by Dr. Tracy Dewhirst
Is it ever ok to give human medications to dogs?
The answer is … sometimes, but only under veterinary recommendation and dosing.
I cannot stress enough that over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can be toxic and even lethal to animals.
Just because you or your child use a drug doesn't mean your dog can safely take the drug at any dose.
Drugs are not metabolized the same in humans and dogs, and some dogs can experience immediately life-threatening toxicities from OTC drugs. And to add further insult to injury, some dogs that become sick from an OTC medication might not be able to receive helpful medications because of drug interference, cross-reactions or stress on their organs. Keep in mind that young dogs, aging dogs or those with medical problems can be harmed by even smaller doses of some OTC drugs.
Many of the drugs prescribed to animals are also used in humans, and often the human drug was first used to treat animals or in animal testing. This, however, does not make human drugs safe for animals.
Drugs approved for animal use have been tested in animals so that veterinarians know the proper and safe dose, how the drug is metabolized by the body, what causes an overdose, what an overdose or reaction looks like and how to treat a reaction. Many OTC drugs are approved for animal use, but with very different doses than are sold for human consumption.
Some of the OTC drugs owners mistakenly give to dogs that can cause severe illness include aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Naproxen, Pepto Bismol and decongestants. Aspirin is the most commonly misused OTC drug in dogs. Aspirin can cause gastro-intestinal upset, GI ulcers, GI bleeding and even bowel perforations with just one incorrect dose.
So I ask -- no, I plead -- when you consider giving your dog a little something to help with this ailment or that pain, remember that his system is much more delicate than you think. Even though his iron stomach handles most sidewalk garbage, it might be sunk with just one tiny tablet.
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Pets | Dogs: Human Medications for Dogs?