FDA Issues Warning About Self-Medicating Pets

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Washington, DC  – When your’ Veterinarian treats your pet with medication it is not the same as pet owners giving their animal some of their own medicine. “Administration of human medications should only occur with the recommendation and supervision of a veterinarian,” Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, an Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension veterinarian, said in a university news release.

Accidental pet poisoning is a common problem when pet owners intentionally give medication in an attempt to make their pet feel better. Pet poisoning also happens inadvertently when an animal has access to medications that are in their environment. If you have pets you should pet-proof your home just as you would if there were small children in the home,” she advised.

“One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, which limits their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen can lead to liver problems, and if consumed in large doses, red blood cell damage,” she said. “Even seemingly benign over-the-counter or herbal medications may cause serious poisoning in pets,” she added.

“Just as you would talk to your doctor about a medicine prescribed for you or your children, you should talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s medications,” says Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “And if you have any questions after you leave the animal clinic, don’t be afraid to contact and follow-up with your veterinarian.”

It is very important that pet owners understand the important information about their pet’s medication and how to use the medication to treat their pet. The Food and Drug Administration has listed ten questions you should ask your veterinarian when medication is prescribed for your pet:

  1. Why has my pet been prescribed this medication and how long do I need to give it?
  2. How do I give the medication to my pet? Should it be given with food?
  3. How often should the medication be given and how much should I give each time? If it is a liquid, should I shake it first?
  4. How do I store the medication?
  5. What should I do if my pet vomits or spits out the medication?
  6. If I forget to give the medication, should I give it as soon as I remember or wait until the next scheduled dose? What if I accidentally give too much?
  7. Should I finish giving all of the medication, even if my pet seems to be back to normal?
  8. Could this medication interact with other medications my pet is taking?
  9. What reactions should I watch for, and what should I do if I see any side effects?
  10. When should I bring my pet back for a recheck? Will you be calling me to check on my pet’s progress, or should I call you?

It is always a good idea to tell your veterinarian about any medications, human or animal, your pet is taking, including herbal, prescription, over-the-counter or dietary. Just to be safe, you may want to take a medications list with you on your next visit to the vet.