Protect Your Pet from Human Medication

The Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), part of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), compiles statistics on toxins consumed by pets each year. According to the organization, over-the-counter (OTC) medication topped prescription medication for the first time ever in 2015. This includes natural and herbal supplements as well as ibuprofen, Tylenol, and other well-known pain relievers.

Protect Your PetAt the close of that year, the APCC had received 28,500 reports of pets accidentally ingesting OTC medication meant for humans. Approximately 16 percent of its calls involved pets who had gotten into their owner’s prescription drugs. It also keeps statistics on cases of pets ingesting other types of household toxins.

How to Protect Your Pet from a Toxic Drug Reaction
Animals should never take medication meant for people and vice versa. Before you give your pet any medication, please clear it with one of the veterinarians at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo. This includes treatments you can buy for your pet without a prescription. Once you have the medication at home, be sure to follow these tips to keep your pet safe:

Keep your medication in its original container and store it well out of the reach of your pet. Leaving it on the counter or placing it in a plastic bag is just asking for trouble. Your pet doesn’t know it’s something that could hurt him and won’t hesitate to sniff, lick, and chew your pills. If you do prefer to use a plastic pill organizer, make sure it’s on a high shelf or in locked cabinet your pet can’t access.

Be sure to keep OTC and prescription medication for yourself and other human family members separate from veterinary medication. Some pills can look nearly identical and it’s easy to give your pet the wrong medication or take something not meant for you, especially when you’re in a hurry.

If you keep medications in a purse or backpack, be certain to store it in a safe place while you’re at home. Both dogs and cats have a strong sense of smell and their curiosity can get the better of them. In fact, we recommend storing purses and backpacks away from pets even if you don’t normally carry medication. Your pet could easily get into something else she shouldn’t have, such as gum or make-up.

Symptoms Your Pet May Experience
The specific symptoms your pet experiences depend on the type of medication he chews or swallows. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, lack of appetite, tremors, seizures, and lack of coordination. The Pet Poison Helpline reported in 2016 that companion animals consumed these types of human medication most often:

  • Acetaminophen, including Tylenol
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-anxiety medications 
  • Attention deficit disorder drugs
  • Beta-blockers
  • Birth control pills
  • Blood pressure pills
  • Cholesterol lowering agents
  • Ibuprofen
  • Sleep aids
  • Thyroid hormones

If you witness or suspect that your pet consumed human medication, please contact Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo immediately during our regular office hours at 651-770-3250. You may contact any one of the following after hours:

  • After Hours Veterinary Care, St. Paul, 651-487-1941
  • Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN, Oakdale, 651-501-3766
  • Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN, St. Paul, 651-293-1800

Although we hope you never experience an emergency, knowing who to contact on short notice can save your pet.

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)