Keep pet medications separate from human ones
Many accidental poisonings happen when a medication is given to a person (or pet) that it wasn’t intended for. You can prevent this by having separate lockboxes for human and pet medications.
It’s important to note that time is of the essence for many of these poisonings, and most treatments are best done at a veterinary hospital.
Medications designed to aid with sleep, like Xanax, Ambien, and Valium, can cause dogs to become lethargic, seem intoxicated and, in some cases, have dangerously slowed breathing rates. Some dogs become severely agitated after ingesting these drugs.
The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used and readily available — many of these can be purchased over the counter. These drugs are used to treat pain, inflammation, and fever in people. Examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and indomethacin. In dogs, orally ingested NSAIDs are rapidly absorbed. Most achieve peak concentrations in the blood within three hours. The most commonly seen side effects of these medications are gastrointestinal irritation and damage to the GI tract.
One of the most dangerous rooms of the house with regard to accidental poisonings is the bedroom, on account of the nightstand next to the bed. Many adult dogs and teething puppies sleep in the bed with their humans, and thus have easy access to the drugs on that nightstand. Medications left on counters in kitchens and bathrooms find their way into the stomachs of bored dogs, too.
Another readily available human medication often used to treat pain and inflammation in dogs is acetaminophen. This drug, sold as Tylenol and other brand names, can be obtained both over the counter and in some prescription preparations. Exposure to dogs usually occurs through administration of acetaminophen by uninformed but well-meaning owners intending to treat fever, pain, or inflammation in their animal. Poisoning can occur from a single exposure to a large dose or from chronic exposure to a low dose.
Why it’s important to keep pills away from pets
Most pets know to stay away from things like fire, deep water, and predators. It’s in their nature. But many pets don’t know that pills can be potentially dangerous.
Pets are curious. They may use a plastic medication bottle as a toy, then accidentally ingest the liquid or pills within. To pets, pills look like they might be food. The sugary coating on some pills can attract dogs or cats. And there are some pills that, for unknown reasons, may be particularly attractive to some dogs or cats.