Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Are human medications really safe for your cat?

Popoki the cat looking right at the camera
Imagine for a moment that your cat got sick or hurt. It's late at night, your kitty is really not feeling well, and you don't want to head to an emergency veterinary clinic for help. If you can, you'd much rather handle the problem on your own at home, preferably with the tools you already have.

If you're like a lot of people, you probably end up staring at your human medicine cabinet. Are there any medications in there you can use to treat kitty's pain or discomfort?

Recently released data from the ASPCA may cause you to stop long before you do any medication sampling. As part of National Animal Poison Prevention Month, the ASPCA released a list of the top toxins that sickened pets in 2015. And, you guessed it, human medications topped that list.

Lucy the cat sitting on her couch

In 2015 alone, more than 28,500 cases of poisoning due to medications were reported to the ASPCA poison control center. That makes drugs the most deadly risk your pets might face in your home, and chances are, this is an exposure you can totally prevent.

When I worked in the animal emergency room, I dealt with several cases of animals unintentionally poisoned by their people. One poor lady clipped her dog's toenails too close, and she gave him a (toxic) Alleve for pain. Another family rushed their cat to the clinic after providing him with an aspirin for his discomfort. Both of these pets had very serious reactions to these drugs. And both families had to live with the knowledge that they had given something to the pet that made it sick.

Very ill pets should always go to an emergency clinic. No amount of at-home care can match the types of treatments available in an animal hospital. And all of those treatments have been tested and proven effective in animals. If your pet is sick, this is the place to go.

And if your pet is merely uncomfortable but not overtly sick, consider heading to your regular veterinarian for care and advice. Can't afford that visit? Check out this list of low-cost veterinary options from the Humane Society of the United States. You might find a new provider that could work with you on payments, or you could apply for a grant to get funded care for your pet.

But whatever you do, don't reach into that cabinet and start handing out your pills. You could end up making a small health problem a whole lot worse.

1 comment:

  1. We only have given human medication with vet supervision. It is a good reminder to be extra careful.