Every year thousands of pets are poisoned by medications that are intended for human consumption. The Cat Channel printed a list of the most common drugs that are poisonous to pets.
The Pet Poison Helpline which is a 24-hour service staffed by veterinary professionals, reported that almost half the calls they receive involve pets that have ingested either over-the-counter or prescription medicines meant for people.
Here is the list of the 10 most common medications reported to the Pet Poison Helpline:
1. NSAIDs (e.g. Advil, Aleve and Motrin) Common household medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) top the list. The names include ibuprofen (e.g., Advil and some types of Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).
2. Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) Even though this drug is safe, this is not true for pets — especially cats. One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells.
3. Antidepressants (e.g. Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro) While occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors and seizures. Pets seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill. One pill can cause serious poisoning.
4. ADD/ADHD medications (e.g. Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin) Minimal ingestions of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems.
5. Benzodiazepines and sleep aids (e.g. Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta) About half of the dogs who ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedate. In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination and slowed breathing in pets.
6. Birth control (e.g. estrogen, estradiol, progesterone) Large ingestions of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone marrow suppression, particularly in birds. Additionally, female pets that are intact are at an increased risk of side effects from estrogen poisoning.
7. ACE Inhibitors (e.g. Zestril, Altace) Pets ingesting small amounts of this medication can potentially be monitored at home, unless they have kidney failure or heart disease.
8. Beta-blockers (e.g. Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg) Small ingestions of these drugs may cause serious poisoning in pets. Overdoses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a slow heart rate.
9. Thyroid hormones (e.g. Armour desiccated thyroid, Synthroid) Large acute overdoses in cats and dogs can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, a rapid heart rate and aggression.
10. Cholesterol-lowering agents (e.g. Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor) Most “statin” ingestions only cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. Serious side effects from these drugs come with long-term use.
The Pet Poison Helpline is staffed with veterinary professionals, including board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialists, board-certified veterinary emergency critical care specialists and veterinary technicians specializing in toxicology. You can reach the helpline at: 800-213-6680.