Wednesday, January 20, 2010

People drugs that are NOT safe for pets!

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Last time we took a look at people drugs that are safe to use for our pets. Now let's look at people medicines that are NOT safe for pets.

There are many things that are dangerous to our pets, from food to plants, cleaners and household supplies and, of course, people medicines. There are some human medicines that work great for pets, given the proper dosage, but there are others that can cause serious harm or even death.

People have a tendency to leave medicines around, especially if they don't have children to worry about getting into them. Pets, however, are curious and can get into things, too. For their protection and safety, always keep medicines and prescriptions out of their reach. Child proof caps do not deter a dog who is determined to chew his way into a bottle.

Let's take a look at some of the most common people medicines that are dangerous to our pets (based in information from the ASPCA).

  • NSAIDS: NSAIDS are non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofin or naproxen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc.). These medicines are safe for people, but even one or two pills can cause serious harm to a pet. Serious stomach and intestinal ulcers may result, as well as kidney failure.
  • Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is very dangerous to pets. It is very safe for humans, even children, but this is not the case for pets....especially cats. Just one regular strength tablet can damage a cat's red blood cells. In dogs, ingesting acetaminophen leads to liver failure. Larger doses will damage their red blood cells.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants (Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, etc.) can cause vomiting and lethargy. Other reactions include lack of coordination, dangerously elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, increased body temperature, disorientation, tremors, seizures, or agitation. Just one pill can cause serious poisoning. Some antidepressants are used by vets, but only certain ones in controlled dosages.
  • ADD/ADHD medications: These medications (Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta) contain potent stimulants (amphetamines and methylphenodate) which can be deadly for pets. These drugs can dangerously elevate their heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Even minimal ingestion of these drugs can be life-threatening. Other symptoms include tremors and seizures.
  • Anti-Anxiety drugs/sleep aids: These drugs include Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien and Lunesta. In humans these drugs are used to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. In pets, however, they may have the opposite effect. About half the dogs that ingest sleep aids become agitated rather than sedated. Other symptoms may include severe lethargy, loss of coordination (appearing to be drunk), and slowed breathing. In cats, some forms of these drugs can cause liver failure.
  • Fluorouracil: Fluorouacil is an anti-cancer drug used to topically treat minor skin cancers and some other conditions. It has been shown to be rapidly fatal in dogs. Symptoms include severe vomiting, seizures, and cardiac arrest. Even very small amounts, such as traces left on discarded cotton swabs that were used to apply the medication, can cause death when ingested.
  • Pseudophedrine: Pseudophedrine is a popular decongestant found in most sinus and cold medicines. If accidentally ingested by pets it can act like s stimulant. Symptoms include elevated heart rate, raised blood pressure and body temperature, and seizures.
  • Anti-diabetics: Drugs used to treat diabetes (Metformin, insulin, glipizide, glyburide) can cause a major drop in blood sugar levels. Signs of ingestion include disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures.
  • Baclofen: Baclofen is a muscle relaxer that can impair the central nervous system in pets. Symptoms of ingestion can include disorientation, vocalization, severe depression, seizures, coma, or even death.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D derivatives (calcitriol, calcipotriene) can cause life-threatening spikes in blood calcium levels in pets. Symptoms, which include vomiting, loss of apetite, increased urination, and thirst due to kidney failure, may not manifest themselves until more than 24 hours after ingestion.
  • Beta-Blockers: These medicines (Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg) are used to treat high blood pressure. Even small ingestions can cause serious poisoning in pets. Symptoms include a life-threatening drop in blood pressure and very slow heart rate.
Some tips for keeping your pets safe from accidental ingestion of medicines (from Dr. Justine Lee and Dr. Ahna Brutlag at Pet Poison Helpline):

Always keep medications out of reach and never administer medication to a pet without first consulting with your vet.

Never leave loose pills in a plastic Ziploc bag. The bags are too easy to chew into. Make sure visiting house guests do the same, keeping their medications up out of reach as well.

If you use one of the weekly medication containers, make sure to store it in a cabinet or out of reach of pets.

Never store your medications near your pet's medications. It is very easy to accidentally give your medicine to your pet instead of their own, especially if the pills look similar.

Hang your purse up out of reach of your pet. Pets are curious and may explore the contents, including any medications that may be in there.

Realize that while a medication may be safe for children, it may not be safe for animals. Pets metabolize medications very differently from people. Even seemingly benign over-the-counter or herbal medications may cause serious poisoning in pets.

Finally, if your pet has ingested a human drug of any sort, please call your veterinarian or poison helpline immediately.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

People Drugs for Pets?

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Did you know that your pets may benefit from some of the same medicines that you do?

There are some medicines for people that are safe for use with your pets as well. In fact, quite a few drugs that are prescribed by your vet are also used by our own doctors. Roughly 80% of the drugs used in veterinary medicine come from human medicine. More specialized treatments, such as those for cancer, are almost all either the same drugs used for people or are derived from them. Many of the drugs undergoing testing for FDA approval for use in people had initial safety tests performed on laboratory beagles. The so-called "off label" use of human drugs allows veterinarians to treat medical conditions, and species, that might not otherwise be priorities for big drug companies.

Veterinary students almost need to know more about pharmacology than their physician counterparts. This is because in human medicine all drugs are FDA approved and have undergone significant testing - but only for people. Vets must use limited information to treat other species with the differences in drug metabolism and action, and proper dosage. Today, vets have more options and better access to medications. Online retailers and specialty pharmacists have realized that pet medicines are a growing market which opens the door to more research and progress on the drugs themselves, more accessibility for these drugs and generic equivalents, and competitive pricing as well.

What medicines are safe for use in our pets? We will list some of the more commonly used human drugs that are safe for use in pets as well. I will also list some regular household items that have medicinal uses in pets and people, too.

PLEASE NOTE: This list is not intended to diagnose any problems or be a substitute for proper veterinary care. Please contact your vet before giving your pet any medication.

  • Aspirin: Aspirin can be given to your dog for pain and inflammation (NOT Tylenol or ibuprofin). Use no more than 80 mg for ten pounds of body weight and only once a day. Aspirin can irritate the stomach, so watch for any discomfort or dark stools. It's a good idea to give it with food to help prevent stomach irritation.
  • Benadryl: Benadryl is commonly used for dogs with allergy issues, both inhaled and contact allergies. Use no more than 1 mg per pound of body weight every 6 to 8 hours.
  • Pepcid AC: Pepcid is used to treat stomach upsets and dogs with acid reflux (yes, they get it, too). Check with your vet for proper dosage.
  • Kaopectate: Kaopectate is used to treat vomiting and diarrhea. Again, check with your vet for dosage information.
  • Dramamine: Dramamine is used for motion sickness. There is nothing worse than a dog that gets carsick every time you take him somewhere. Give 2 mg per pound of body weight no more than 3 times per day.
  • Metamucil: Metamucil is used to treat constipation. Use one teaspoon for every 20 pounds of body weight. Mix the powder in with their food.
  • Pedialyte or Gatorade: Pedialyte or Gatorade is used to treat dehydration. Dilute with equal amounts of water.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: Peroxide can be used to induce vomiting if your pet has ingested something he shouldn't have. Make sure to use the 3% solution (indicated on the label). Use one teaspoon for every 5 pounds of body weight. ALWAYS contact your vet, if at all possible, before using this treatment. There are some substances that can be ingested that should not be vomited up.
  • Robotussin: Robotussin can be used to treat kennel cough. If your dog is smaller than 20 pounds, use 1/2 teaspoon. For 21-40 pounds, use 1 teaspoon. For over 40 pounds, use 2 teaspoons.
  • Neosporin/antibiotic ointment: Neosporin can be used up to 4 times per day to help prevent infection on wounds or incisions.
  • Calamine Lotion: Calamine lotion can be used to treat itchy or sore areas and rashes.
  • Vicks VapoRub: Vicks Vaporub can be rubbed on your dog's chest to help ease breathing.
  • Anbesol: Anbesol is used up to twice a day to treat mouth or tooth pain. Do not use for more than two days without contacting your vet.
  • Contact Lens Saline Solution: Saline solution is used to flush out wounds. Simple saline is what emergency rooms use to clean out wounds.
  • Betadine: Betadine is a safe iodine used as an antiseptic for cuts to clean and prevent infection.
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda is great for treating bee stings in pets and people. Mix baking soda and water into a paste and apply to the sting. Allow it to dry, then use a credit card or something similar to scrape out the stinger.
  • Corn starch/flour: Corn starch or flour are great at stopping minor bleeding, such as from a nail trimmed too short. Pack it on and it will stop the bleeding and absorb the blood.
  • Hydrocortisone: Hydrocortisone is helpful with rashes, insect bites, scratches or hot spots. Spread in a light layer over the irritated area to relieve itching or pain.

There are many other prescriptions for people that vets can prescribe for pets. When my sharpei came down with lymphoma, he underwent chemotherapy, took prednisone and another cancer drug that I had to get from a regular human pharmacy. The treatment protocol was exactly what would be used on a person. It worked beautifully. Without people drugs, he would not have survived for long.

Next time....we will take a look at drugs and substances that are toxic to pets.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Dog's Top Ten Peeves with Humans

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Our pet peeves with our humans.....

  • Blaming your farts on me. Not funny.....not funny at all!!!
  • Yelling at me for barking. I'M A FRIGGIN' DOG!
  • Taking me for a walk, then not letting me check stuff out. Exactly whose walk is this anyway?
  • Any trick that involves balancing food on my nose. Stop it!
  • Any haircut that involves bows or ribbons. Now you know why we chew your stuff up when you're not home!
  • The slight of hand, fake fetch and throw. You fooled a dog. Woooohooo. What a proud moment for the top of the food chain.
  • Taking me to the vet for the "big snip", then acting surprised when I freak out every time we go back there.
  • Getting upset when I sniff the crotches of your guests. Sorry, but I haven't quite mastered that handshake thing yet.
  • Dog sweaters. Hellooooo.....haven't you noticed the fur?
  • How you act disgusted when I lick myself. Look, we both know the truth. You're just jealous.
Now lay off me on some of this stuff. We both know who's boss here. You don't see me picking up your poop, do you?

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