Over-The-Counter Medications and Your Pet

May 12, 2014

By Dr. Comstock

Dr. Comstock


We are fortunate today to have ready access to over-the-counter (OTC) medications to use when we are ill. However, when a pet is ill, can we use those same medications?

As with many things in medicine, the answer is complicated. Many medications used in veterinary medicine are also human medications, and quite a few are available over the counter. However, our wonderful furry family members are not, in fact, small people (even if they think they are). Many medications that are safe for people are extremely dangerous to pets (the classic example is Tylenol toxicity in cats), and often safe medications have doses for animals that are vastly different than human dosing.

Aspirin is an example of a medication that is often given to dogs by their owners at home for pain. Unfortunately aspirin can have serious side effects such as GI ulceration and decreased platelet function. A single dose of aspirin can be in the dog’s system for a week, and it can take weeks to clear the effects of chronic aspirin. For these reasons, veterinarians tend to choose safer and more effective prescription medications. However, for dogs that have received aspirin already, we may have to use alternate therapies and wait until the aspirin has cleared the system to begin appropriate medication to treat the problem.

The bottom line is that it is always safest to consult with a veterinarian prior to giving any over the counter medication. Please feel free to contact our hospital should you have any questions about your pet. We are always happy to help!

Posted in General, Medication

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