Giving "people medicine" to pets may do more harm than good
Updated: February 20, 2017
While it may be tempting to use people medicine on your pets, resources from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly advice against it.
It's hard to watch our beloved animals in pain and trips to the vet are often expensive for you and nerve wracking for our pets. Giving over-the-counter medication meant for humans seems like a good solution, but it could be dangerous.
Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen are all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly called NSAIDs. Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is not an NSAID and doesn't have much anti-inflammatory effects.
While there are FDA-approved NSAIDs for pets, the above-mentioned human versions may not be safe or effective in dogs or cats.
In dogs, NSAIDs may last longer, have a higher absorption rate in the stomach and small intestine and reach higher blood levels. The result could be lead to an upset stomach or, more seriously, ulcers or liver and kidney damage.
The following NSAIDS are approved specifically for dogs:
Cats are even more susceptible to toxic side effects from all NSAIDs. Cats have a reduced ability to break down these types of drugs. In fact, only two NSAIDs are approved for cats, none of which are OK for long-term use.
Cats also lack the enzymes that the liver needs to safely break down acetaminophen, so it should never be given to them.
NSAIDs approved for pets also have a risk of side effects, including the following:
- Decreased or no appetite
- Decreased activity level
More serious side effects include:
- Stomach and intestinal ulcers
- Stomach and intestinal perforations
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
If your pet is experiencing pain, call your vet. Don't try to fix the problem on your own.
More FDA resources for pet owners: