Friday, September 6, 2013

Your medicine cabinet is not your pet's medicine cabinet!

by: Erin Bergen, LVT

Your medicine cabinet is not your pet's medicine cabinet!  

One of the most common questions that I am asked by clients is what can they give their pet for pain at home. We have all been there...Fido comes home from the dog park after a good romp a little sore and we don't like to see our friend hurting.  The most common NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) that we would take for the same ailment would be Tylenol (acetaminophen), Aleve (naproxen), Motrin (ibuprofen) or aspirin.   What is ok to give?  It is important to understand that dogs and cats do not metabolize medications the same, do not metabolize all medications like humans do and require different dosages.  NSAIDs are no exception.  acetaminophen, naproxen and ibuprofen can be dangerous.  They cant "take two and call us in the morning"!  The most common effects of these medications in our companion animals are adverse reactions in the kidney, liver and digestive tract.  Clinical signs consist of cyanosis (turning blue), respiratory distress, swelling of the face and paws, vomiting, hyperthermia and depression. In worst case scenarios, the kidneys and liver can go into failure resulting in death if not treated or not treated quickly.  In dogs, clinical signs can occur within 4-12 hours and death can occur within 2-6 days as a result of kidney and liver failure.  Cats can be more sensitive to these medications than dogs.  In the clinic we would treat these cases with aggressive supportive care consisting mainly of fluid therapy and a healthy dose of activated charcoal as soon as possible to minimize absorption of these medications into the animal's system.  Time is very important in successful treatment!  So, what can you give at home for those occasional soreness issues?  The best recommendation would be to give us a call and if we have given your pet a recent physical exam we may be able to dispense medication that is formulated for cats or dogs that will be safe for them.  Sometimes, you may also be able to give your dog ( not your cat!) aspirin.  Aspirin should be given with a meal to decrease the risk of stomach upset and should be given sparingly but at the dose of 1mg per pound it can be used occasionally.  For more consistent problems call us and we can help get your pet on a long term pain management plan.  As our regular clients know, you can always call us and ask questions but listed below are also some helpful resources for you.

Poison Hotline. 1-800-213-6680. 
    (for annual members of Homeagain the poison control hotline is free, please visit for more information)

Remember, what is good for the human is not always good for the companion animal!  At Central Kentucky Veterinary Center we want your furry friends to be happy and healthy!  So if they are having trouble give us a call and let us help!  

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