Pet Poison Prevention Awareness–Household Medications

Pet Poison Prevention Awareness–Household Medications

It is week 3 of Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month here at the Ark!  Dr. Listrani sat down with us to talk about some common household medications that are toxic to your pets.  Check out his vlog on our Facebook and Youtube page to learn more!


The first and potentially largest group is NSAIDs.  These are drugs like Advil and Motrin (Ibuprofen), Aleve (Naproxen)  and Tylenol (Acetaminophen). Generally, Ibuprofen is more toxic. It has a candy coating that makes it very appetizing for dogs especially and can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure.  Acetaminophen is much more toxic to cats and can damage their red blood cells which inhibit their ability to carry oxygen.

meds6Antidepressants (SSRIs) can cause a large range of symptoms based on the amount of medication the pet gets into.  Moderate toxicity can include sedation or nervous system stimulation (based on the drug), anorexia and lethargy. Severe symptoms can include vomiting, tremors, seizures, hyperthermia and abdominal pain.

meds7ADHD/ADD medications are stimulants and the symptoms that they cause pacing and circling as well as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.  These medications include drugs like adderall and ritalin. 

meds5Our next category is benzodiazepines.  These are anticonvulsants, anti-anxiety and muscle relaxants like clonazepam and diazepam.  These medications can cause GI upset but can also cause much more severe symptoms like aggression, agitation and cardiac and respiratory depression.

meds4Small doses of birth control are normally not overly toxic to your pets and do not cause any trouble.  However, larger doses of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone marrow depression in birds. As with any medications, always call your veterinarian to check and see if they ingested a toxic dose.

meds3Ace Inhibitors like Benazepril are actually used in your pets but can be toxic in higher doses.  These are used to treat high blood pressure and overdoses can cause extreme drops in blood pressure as well as dizziness and weakness.

meds2Our last group of medication is Beta-Blockers.  Beta-Blockers work by blocking the effects of epinephrine to help lower blood pressure.  These medications have similar symptoms as Ace Inhibitors but are toxic in smaller doses and can have even more serious effects.

meds1As with any ingestion of an inappropriate food item, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately for further instructions.  If you believe that your pet may have ingested a toxic substance, contact Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 or the ASPCA Poison Control at 888-426-4435 followed by your veterinary hospital or an emergency veterinarian.