Drug poisoning is one of the main causes of poisoning in dogs and it may occur in a variety of ways. Simply, an overdose of medication can cause poisoning. This can happen due to the caregiver’s neglect or when each member of the family medicates the pet not knowing that it has received the medication already.
The most common causes of drug poisoning are misuse or off-label use or unintentional usage by the owner (e.g. giving the pet an OTC pain medication used by humans), accidental ingestion from a bottle left open, or a lid chewed off by your dog.
Exposure to medication designed for humans, whether over-the-counter or prescription medications can have adverse effects on a dog due to differences in metabolism and lower body weight.
Most of the pills taste sweet and dogs may see them as a treat. Medicine poisoning can have serious side effects and your pet will need immediate medical attention. Side effects from mild cases are reversible, but serious medications or overdoses can cause long-term consequences or death.
Symptoms Of Medicine Poisoning
Treatment Options For Medicine Poisoning
Early treatment and cleansing reduce the risk of serious toxicity. If drug ingestion occurred within a few hours of treatment, the veterinarian may induce vomiting or perform cleaning out the contents of the stomach (gastric lavage).
Treatment may include:
- Accidental ingestion of human OTC or prescription drugs: simple hydrogen peroxide solution of 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight is used to induce vomiting. This will be used only if the drug ingestion is within an hour.
- After clearing out the contents, sometimes vets provide a special preparation such as liquid activated charcoal to slow down the absorption of drug/poison from the stomach.
- Activated charcoal should only be administered by a licensed toxicologist/veterinarian. Otherwise, aspiration into the lungs and life-threatening changes in sodium levels may occur.
- The specific antidotes will be used – for example, N-acetylcysteine (Mucomyst) for acetaminophen toxicity. This controls the formation of the poisonous substances that damages the red blood cells and liver.
- More intensive therapy is needed for pets with liver damage or high methemoglobin levels in the blood.
- Blood transfusions and intravenous fluid therapy for pets that develop, flush out toxins, maintain blood pressure, and for anemia.
- They may also need dextrose in their fluids, liver protectants, and Vitamin C.
Home Remedies For Medicine Poisoning
Whenever toxic exposure is suspected, immediate action is recommended. Early consultation and treatment can help prevent serious health effects.
Prevention Of Medicine Poisoning
Check with your vet on the proper medication and the appropriate dosage for your dog.
Always act sensibly and make sure to keep all medications (for people and pets) in a safe place that is inaccessible to pets, if possible in a locked cabinet.
When you're taking medications and you drop any of the pills, don’t leave them on the floor.
Top 10 Human Medications That Are Poison Pills For Pets:
Data from ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Tramadol (Ultram)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Zolpidem (Ambien)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Affected Breeds Of Medicine Poisoning
Mischievous Breeds who are also notorious chewers are at higher risk.
Puppies, Small Dog Breeds, Collie, Beagle, Chihuahua, Bulldog, Labrador Retriever, Dachshund, Golden Retriever
Additional Facts For Medicine Poisoning
These are some of the common Medicine poisonings.
- Aleve/Motrin/ Naproxen
Antidepressants, Seizure, and Anxiety Medication:
- Benzodiazepines (lorazepam and diazepam among others)
- Serotonin reuptake inhibitors(Citalopram - Celexa)
- Barbiturates (Seconal - secobarbital)
- Tricyclic antidepressants (Amitriptyline, Amoxapine)
ADD/ADHD Medication: Methylphenidate - Ritalin, Dextroamphetamine, Dextroamphetamine, and Amphetamine.
Adderall Birth control pills - Adderall XR and Ethinyl estradiol/norethindrone.
Heart and Blood Pressure Medication:
- ACE inhibitors - Benazepril, Captopril
- Calcium channel blocker - Amlodipine, Diltiazem
- BETA blockers - Acebutolol, Atenolol
Medications to Lower Cholesterol:
- Statins - Atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol)
- Bile binding resins - Cholestyramine, colesevelam
- Fibrates - Clofibrate, gemfibrozil
- Niacin - Niacor, niaspan
- PCSK9 inhibitors
- Lasix (Furosemide)
- Aldactone (Spironolactone)
- Demadex (Torsemide)
- Methocarbamol (Robaxin)
- Carisoprodol (Soma)
- Dantrolene (Dantrium)
Some Topical Agents:
- Calcipotriene - Psoriasis medicine
- 5 Fluorouracil - A chemotherapy drug
Types Of Medicine Poisoning:
There are four scenarios that can lead to medicine poisoning in dogs.
- Any dose of human medication.
- Overdose of prescribed medication.
- Misuse of prescribed medication.
- Off-label use.
Sometimes, you may follow the prescription recommendations but can result in an overdose. The pet may no longer require an already prescribed dosage dose of medication for some diseases such as diabetes. Prediction is not possible in this case.
A specific dose of insulin that was good for a while may not be needed after a few months. All of a sudden, the usual dose may become an overdose as the dog may not need that at that point and this overdose makes the dog hypoglycemic.
- Blood pressure, heart function tests
- Urine tests
- Additional tests for kidney or liver
Medicine poisoning in dogs is fatal and the mortality rate is actually higher. Worldwide data is not available; however, country-wise data itself suggest medicine poisoning causes high fatality in dogs.
Prognosis will depend on the ingested drug, ingested quantity, proper diagnosis, and the timing of treatment. Earlier the diagnosis, recovery is good.
Very severe overdoses in dogs can be treated successfully if they get to the veterinarian right away. Mild cases may cause deaths if the poisoning was not found out until the dog succumbs or the cause is unknown.
When To See A Vet
Right away transport your pet to the closest vet clinic, if you suspect drug poisoning or when your dog is showing any signs of distress.
Don’t forget to take the remaining pills or pill bottle with you.
It is important to provide as much information as possible regarding the symptoms, the amount ingested, the timing of ingestion, and the pet’s medical history including what other medication they are taking.
Food Suggestions For Medicine Poisoning
As with any poisoning, proper and immediate diagnosis, as well as aggressive treatments, gives more successful outcomes.
Always err on the side of caution and prevention is the best form of management of medicine poisoning. Always act sensibly with your medications and dog’s medications.