Human Medications and Our Pets

By Dr. Kathy Enright

Any medication given to any person or animal can cause an allergic reaction. Unfortunately we often don’t know until we have taken something if we are allergic or not. Think of penicillin in people. So some human medications can cause adverse reactions, and some perfectly ‘safe to humans’ medicines act like poisons because our pets don’t have the same “receptors or enzymes’’ as we do and it is in these cases human medicine can become ‘poisons’ to our pets. Accidental ingestion and accidental overdose can also have serious consequences. 

 A dog having an allergic reaction

Paracetamol is fatal to cats, Ibuprofen, naproxen can be in dogs and cats. Our pets metabolise them differently and liver and kidney failure can result, and if severe enough the damage may not be reversible. Human heart medications, can have serious side effects on our pets’ heart rates and rhythms, even lead to devastating arrhythmias in our pets.


Chocolate coated vitamins, mint flavoured tablets and cough syrups are all very tasty to dogs but as discussed in human food and poisons, in our pets they can have very severe consequences.

Keep your medications out of reach, because child proof containers are not ‘teeth-proof’. Also properly dispose of out of date medications.

Don’t presume that cat medications & spot-ons are ok to give to dogs and vice versa, cats are not small dogs and we frequently see cats coming in with tremors, head tilts, and even seizures after being administered the wrong spot-on treatment. Read the instructions and don’t double or split dosages. Your vet will have prescribed the medications for a reason and best to follow their advice. And veterinary spot-ons have been subject to higher safety checks and cover more ‘creepy crawlies’ than shop bought products.

Household products:

Cleaning products, fragrance sprays, can also be deadly, they need to be stored correctly and kept out of reach & sight at all times. Take antifreeze for example, cats love the taste of it, and drink it readily like lemonade. But it is fatal. So be sure when dealing with any chemicals, do so in a well ventilated area, thoroughly wipe up spills as they occur and store them away in safety cabinets. So what to watch out for:                                                      


Acids                          Enzymatic Cleaner                Teflon coated frying pans (fatal to some bird Sp.)

Alkalis                        Antifreeze                               Pot Pourri                                       Bleach

Batteries                    Glow sticks                             Solvents                                         Lacquers