Are Over-The-Counter Medications Safe For My Dog?

Done so with care, and only with your veterinarian’s approval, some over-the-counter human medications can be given to dogs. 

For example, topical antibiotic ointments can be used to treat any minor cuts and scrapes. Check the label first to ensure the cream does not contain steroids (as they can slow healing) and cover the wound, so your dog doesn’t lick the ointment off. Anti-fungal treatments such as creams, gels, and sprays can be used as temporary measures until you can take your dog to your veterinarian.

Pepto-Bismol can be administered to your dog to help alleviate diarrhea or vomiting. Contact your veterinarian to check the dosage beforehand and also if your dog vomits up the Pepto-Bismol.

If your dog suffers from travel sickness, Dramamine is safe to give to most dogs half an hour before departure. Please note that there are canine-specific medications that are more effective and last longer than Dramamine.

Some human antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec may also be safe to give your dog on the say-so of your veterinarian.  However, decongestants are not safe for dogs, so check the label carefully to ensure none are present in the medicine. The allergy medicine you give your dog should only contain antihistamines.

Hydrogen peroxide may be used topically to clean any wounds. On the advice of your veterinarian, a small dose of hydrogen peroxide may be given to your dog to induce vomiting. Your veterinarian will advise if this is appropriate and what amount to give.


dog painkiller


Check With Your Veterinarian First!

Before giving your dog any human medications, it is essential to talk to your veterinarian. Most importantly, your veterinarian will advise you if that particular medication is safe to give to your dog. If it is safe, then they can suggest what the appropriate dosage would be. Your veterinarian can also check your dog’s medical records to ensure the medication will not cause any adverse effects.

What Painkillers Can I Give My Dog?

Generally, human pain medications are not safe to give to your dog; they can be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. Many over-the-counter human pain medications, such as Ibuprofen, are classed as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or (NSAIDs). When these medications are given to dogs, they can cause a loss of appetite, intestinal problems, vomiting and diarrhea, bleeding disorders, kidney or liver dysfunction, or failure.

If your dog is in pain, the only course of action is to take him to your veterinarian. The cause of the pain must be found and appropriate veterinarian treatment given.

Can I Give My Dog Human Cough Medicine?

Many human cough medicines are relatively safe to give your dog. Check the label carefully to ensure the drug does not contain any decongestants, as they are not safe for dogs. However, a cough may signify that something more serious is wrong with your dog, like heartworms, respiratory infections, or heart disease. If your dog is coughing, have your dog checked by your veterinarian to rule anything more serious out before administering human cough medicine to your dog.


Is Human Medicine Bad for Dogs?

While small doses of human medication can be safely administered to your dog, some drugs are extremely toxic to your pet.

Top 10 Most Poisonous Human Medications for Pets

Leaving a pill bottle opened on a low countertop, packing your medication in a plastic bag, or accidentally dropping a pill on the floor could harm your dog more than you realize. Dr. Justine Lee, associate director of veterinary services at the Pet Poison Hotline, says 50 percent of the approximately 150,000 annual calls the hotline gets are about pets swallowing human medications. Recently, the hotline came out with a review of the call data, which revealed the top 10 offenders.

  1. NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen are a type of pain medication. Just one or two pills can lead to severe stomach or kidney ulcers or kidney failure. “The only pain pill we ever recommend is aspirin,” says Lee. “People think aspirin is the same as Tylenol or Advil, but it’s not.” Even so, aspirin should only be administered at the direction of a veterinarian as it can lead to internal bleeding.

  1. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

This conventional over-the-counter pain medication can be devastating to pets. And ingestion often isn’t accidental. “Pet owners think because it’s over the counter that it’s safe,” Lee says. Acetaminophen ingestion by dogs can lead to liver failure or, in large doses, red blood cell damage.

  1. Antidepressants

Pets are prescribed antidepressants, but Lee says the veterinary versions have a different makeup. The human version can lead to agitation in dogs.

  1. ADHD Medication

Even minimal ingestion of these drugs can be deadly to dogs. Tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures, and heart problems can result. Dr. Ahna Brutlag of the Pet Poison Hotline says it’s essential to educate children taking these pills: “Make sure your children know how dangerous the pills are for the pets.”

  1. Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, etc.) and Sleep Aids

These drugs reduce anxiety or improve sleep, but many dogs instead become agitated rather than sedated. Lee says such medications are commonly left on a bedside table. “Putting them there helps people remember to take them,” says Lee. “But curious animals often get to them first.”

  1. Birth Control Pills

“The containers are colorful, plastic, and may make a rattling noise,” says Lee. “Dogs seem to find them irresistible.” Thankfully, most canines aren’t affected by accidental ingestions, but non-spayed female dogs are at risk of side effects. High doses can also lead to serious bone marrow problems.

  1. ACE Inhibitors (Angiotensin-Converting-Enzyme Inhibitors)

ACE inhibitors are used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure in people. ACE inhibitors can cause problems in dogs similar to beta-blockers but with less severe effects. Still, heart medications should never be within a dog’s reach, says Lee.

  1. Beta-Blockers

Another group of blood pressure medications,beta-blockers, can severely affect dogs, lowering their blood pressure and heart rate to dangerous levels. “It has a very narrow margin of safety,” says Brutlag. “It may not take very many to cause lethal side effects.”

  1. Thyroid Drugs

Hypothyroidism can be common in dogs, and the dose required tends to be ten times stronger than for a person, says Lee. For this reason, accidental ingestions are usually not a problem unless a dog eats a considerable amount.

  1. Cholesterol Drugs

Called “statins,” these popular drugs treat a problem that dogs typically don’t have. The good news is that severe effects in dogs only occur from chronic ingestion.


Preventing Accidental Poisoning in Your Dog

Lee and Brutlag offer tips to help prevent accidental ingestions, based on the most common stories they get from hotline callers:

  • Keep human and dog drugs in different locations. It’s easy to grab the wrong bottle if they’re next to each other on the shelf.
  • If you carry drugs in your bag or purse, place them someplace high when you’re home. If you use a seven-day pill container, store it out of reach. Dogs often think it’s a toy.
  • Don’t assume children’s medicine is safe. Species’ differences are significant enough that medications safe for children can still harm dogs.  
  • When you travel, be vigilant about safely packing your pills.

Can You Give a Dog Human Arthritis Medicine?

Glucosamine is used long-term to treat joint pain associated with arthritis in humans and is considered safe for most dogs. 

If you decide to administer Glucosamine to your dog, it is essential to follow the dosage recommendations. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that Glucosamine use for up to 12 months is relatively safe for your dog.

What is a Natural Anti Inflammatory for Dogs?

Inflammation in dogs can be caused by arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, dermatitis, and conjunctivitis. If your dog is suffering from inflammation and you would like to take a natural path for treatment, there are some things you can try.  

  • Diet

Be aware of what your dog is eating. Ensure your dog’s diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Avoid giving them human scraps and opt for good quality dog food.

  • Weight

Inflammation is one of the conditions obesity can cause in your dog. Suppose your dog is already obese; it’s time to make some changes. Increase the amount of exercise your dog gets. If your dog is suffering from inflammation, take them on more frequent shorter walks rather than one long walk. Gradually reduce the portion size you feed your dog and their treats. It may even be appropriate to change to low-calorie dog food.

  • Exercise

Regular short bouts of exercise will help maintain your dog’s fitness. Reduce the length of walks but increase their frequency to help with pain management. Find games that your dog will enjoy.


Natural Anti-Inflammatories

There are several natural remedy options available for both humans and dogs. Licorice root, turmericginger, and even CBD oil have been widely used to reduce inflammation.

Even though there is a range of natural remedies to try for your dog, it is still essential to seek professional advice before starting any treatment. 

What Herbal Anti-Inflammatory Remedies Can I Give My Dog?

Certain herbs are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, so if you would like to try a herbal remedy for your dog’s inflammation or arthritis, there are several you can try:

  • Arnica can be applied topically to relieve the pain of sprains, inflammation, and arthritis.
  • Boswellia is usually administered orally in capsule form and may help slow the rate of cartilage damage.
  • Turmeric can be administered orally to your dog as bite-sized chew tablets. Turmeric may decrease inflammation and reduce the pain and stiffness that accompany arthritis.
  • Yucca is usually administered orally in liquid form and can reduce pain, stiffness, and swelling. 

Even though herbs are a natural remedy for your dog, it is still essential to seek professional advice before administering anything to your dog. 

Article written by Author: Elijah Merrill and The Dog Daily Expert

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