When a pet falls ill, it’s easy to want to head to the local pharmacy and pick up something to make him feel better. While this can be a helpful tactic for treating human illnesses, it may not be the best idea for your pet. In fact, some over-the-counter medications can be incredibly harmful for pets and can easily result in severe and life-threatening reactions.
Why OTC Medications Are Not Ideal
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as antihistamines are designed for people and may not work as well in a pet's system. A human body is vastly different from that of an animal, therefore it can be difficult to estimate a dose. Pet parents who give their pets OTC medications may inadvertently give extremely high doses, causing their much loved companion to become ill.
Additionally, certain OTC medications, such as pain relievers, can actually be deadly. Tylenol can easily kill a cat and aspirin and other types of non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause kidney failure or gastrointestinal bleeding in dogs.
Finally, if an animal is suffering from a condition that seems to warrant the administration of any medication at all, it is advisable for pet parents to take them to the veterinarian immediately rather than attempting to treat the condition with OTC medication. Even if OTC medication were administered and seemed to treat the symptoms, it is very possible that the pet parent is missing an underlying problem that requires professional treatment.
OTC Mistakes can be Costly
One of the main reasons pet parents choose to skip the vet and treat their pets with OTC medications is a concern over the vet bill. While veterinary care is certainly expensive, preventative arrangements like pet insurance can help mitigate the cost. Additionally, administering OTC medications to pets can easily cause medical conditions to develop, which can result in even greater expense and a longer recovery.
For example, many pet parents give their dogs pain medication only to discover that they accidentally overdosed the pet and as a result the dog has developed internal bleeding. In addition to being harmful for pets, these OTC-medication-induced disasters are also expensive for pet parents and require immediate medical attention.
The Verdict: No OTC Meds for Pets
It may be tempting to play vet at home, but take your pet to a trained veterinarian if you feel he needs treatment for a medical condition.
As well as helping pet parents avoid dangerous and harmful overdoses or adverse reactions, taking Fido to the vet instead of providing OTC treatment also means that he is getting all the care he needs, and that if a dangerous condition is present, it won’t be inadvertently missed or masked by OTC medications.
Pet parents want to do everything possible for their pets, and while OTC medications may be a good idea for human patients, they can harm and kill your beloved pets. For that reason, keep the OTC meds for your human family members and take your sick or injured pet to the vet instead.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.