Medication Safety: Prescriptions and Your Pet
Do you know the most common cause for poisoning in America’s pets is? No, it isn’t chocolate, anti-freeze, or even cleaning products. Prescription medications, both human and animal, are the top offender accidental ingestions by pets.
Depending on the prescription, this can have serious, even deadly, consequences when medication safety is ignored or forgotten.
How do I prevent accidental medication ingestion?
It is important to take care around prescription drugs.
- Never give your pet any kind of medication, human or animal, without asking your veterinarian. Some pet medications may be contraindicated in specific scenarios, and many human medications including acetaminophen and ibuprofen are toxic to pets.
- Keep all medications out of reach, ideally in a secure cabinet above countertop level. Never leave medications out on the counter, table, or nightstand. If you must keep medications in your purse be sure that the purse is closed and shut securely in a closet. Keep purses and bags of visitors locked up as well. Curious animals may chew on bottles that they have access to. Childproof caps are not applicable to pets!
- Don’t keep your medications and your pet’s medications in the same place. Accidents happen, but having them in different areas makes them less likely.
- Take care to immediately pick up any dropped pills. Stray pills can be a tempting “treat” for inquisitive animals.
What do I do if I think my pet has ingested a medication?
- If you think that your pet has ingested something that it shouldn’t have, take a deep breath. Even if your pet does not appear sick, it is important to call your veterinarian or a pet poison helpline such as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
- It is important to be able to identify as much information as possible, including when you think the ingestion happened, what it was, and the amount ingested. Have the packaging available. Put any chewed up or vomited medication in a sealed bag.
- Be prepared to describe the pet’s symptoms, if any, and know your pet’s age, breed, sex, and approximate weight, especially if calling a poison hotlin.
- Do not delay in seeking assistance for accidental medication ingestion. Time is often crucial to prevent serious effects.
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