Over 78% of vets in a recent survey had treated animals that had ingested human medication in the past year. In addition, 25% of these vets had dealt with cases where owners had deliberately given human medicine to their pet.
The most common medicines ingested were paracetamol and ibuprofen, but diabetic and heart medication, contraceptive pills and anti-depressants were also frequently given.
Whilst I am sure the vast majority of these pet owners were well meaning, there are numerous risks associated with human medicines. For example, paracetamol given to cats is invariably fatal because a cats metabolism is unable to break down the drug. In one case, an owner gave her cat one quarter of paracetamol tablet every day in an attempt to stop pain, which instead resulted in the cat dying.
In another case, a Husky accidentally consumed a packet of 40 ibuprofen and did not receive veterinary attention for 16 hours with the result that the dog died from liver and kidney damage.
It is certainly the case that many people turn to the internet now for all kinds of information including when they have a sick animal. So the temptation to self-diagnose and medicate your animal’s condition can be very real for some people.
So, although the intention of giving pets human medication may be well meaning, many human drugs are strong poisons and can cause severe illness and even death. Of course, you must also make sure that human medications are stored safely well out of reach of your pets.
The bottom line is always seek proper veterinary attention when your pet is unwell – after all, we are just a phone call away!