The hidden pet killers in your medicine cabinet
PDSA warns common household drugs can kill pets
Everyday drugs used in millions of homes across the UK could be a death sentence to pets if swallowed, PDSA warned today.
The vet charity issued the warning after continuing to see poisoning cases involving pets that have ingested common household drugs such as ibuprofen and paracetamol.
It comes as figures* from the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) show that ‘non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)’ – those common in over-the-counter painkillers and cold and flu products – are among the top five enquiries they receive.
VPIS also reported that these drugs accounted for several pet deaths last year – with three fatal cases involving dogs, two of which were related to naproxen and one involving exposure to ibuprofen. One cat also had to be euthanized after eating paracetamol. But PDSA believes this could be the tip of the iceberg with many cases going unreported.
PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said it was vital for pet owners to realise the dangers common household drugs can pose to their animals.
She said: “Drugs like ibuprofen and paracetamol are a staple of the household medicine cabinet, but you should store them in the same way you would if you had young children in the family, as they can be just as dangerous to our pets.”
“With funding assistance from players of People’s Postcode Lottery we’re warning pet owners about the dangers and what they can do to keep their pets safe.”
It can be surprisingly easy for a pet to get their paws on these drugs and if they do the consequences can be devastating. There are also instances where pet owners attempt to medicate their pets using human drugs, but this is extremely dangerous – paracetamol, for example, is particularly toxic to cats – and any medications used on pets should always be prescribed by a vet.
According to the latest data from VPIS – a 24 hour telephone emergency service used by vets for animal poisoning cases – enquiries about NSAIDs were the most common across all pet species, with 861 total enquiries over 12 months. Paracetamol was the fourth most common, accounting for 401 enquiries.
Olivia added: “These drugs are among the most common in the UK and can be bought over-the-counter for pain management and in cold and flu products.”
“People often carry blister packs in pockets or bags, which can be very tempting for a pet to explore or it’s not uncommon to hear of people giving their pet some paracetamol or other common human painkillers when their pet seems unwell. It’s really important to remember to store medicines away in a locked cabinet or box and never to attempt medication using drugs intended for people, unless advised by your vet.”
Olivia said it was vital for owners to seek emergency veterinary treatment straight away if they suspect their pet has come into contact with anything toxic.
She said: “It’s important to contact your vet for advice urgently. In an emergency situation it’s useful to let the vet know as much as possible about the offending substance, so they can give the appropriate treatment. So always keep the packaging and take it with you if you need to go to the surgery.”