Giving human medication to animals can be dangerous

Some pet owners attempt to help their pet themselves hoping to avoid the trip to the vet. I was very surprised to find out the extent of the phenomenon of people treating their pets with human medication they have at home without veterinary instructions or supervision. Using human medication in pets can be very dangerous. One of the drug group most commonly used by owners is the Non Steriodal Antinflammatories (SNAIDS). This group includes Acetaminophen (Tylanol), Ibuprofen (Advil) Aspirin, and more. Human NSAIDS are usually sold “over the counter” and are used as pain and inflammation relievers. People tend to administer those medications to their pets in cases of fever and pain. Using human NSAIDS can be very dangerous to pets. Cats are especially sensitive to the adverse effects of these drugs.   NSAIDS readily cause stomach ulcers. They damage the kidneys to the extent of kidney failure. They may also damage the liver and adversely affect the blood’s clotting ability.
The severity of the damage is determined by the amount substance given in correlation to the pet’s size. A typical human pill is designed to be used by a grown adult which may weigh 10 or even 20 times more than a pet.
Signs of NSAIDS toxicity are depend on the tissue affected. Stomach ulcers may manifest by vomiting and or diarrhea, both may contain blood. The pet is usually weak and has no interest in food, and may show pain reaction around its abdomen.
On top of the signs mentioned, kidney failure is also manifested by either lack of urine production or excessive urination and drinking. If the liver is involved the pet may show signs of Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and tissues)
As a rule of thumb, I recommend you not to give your pet human NSAIDS, or any other human drug for that matter, without consulting a vet. In some cases the animal helps itself to the drug, those cases are usually even more dangerous because the overdose tends to be greater. In order to prevent these intoxications, keep your medication in a high, non accessible place for your pet. If your pet consumed the medication take it to the vet ASAP. If treated immediately, the vet may be able to eliminate the drug absorption by inducing vomiting, or feeding the pet with active charcoal. If the drug got absorbed by the time the pet is presented to the vet, a supportive treatment such as intravenous fluids may help the animal’s body cope with the drug.
Veterinary NSAIDS are available and commonly prescribed by vets for pain relief. These medications are designed to be used by pets. Their concentration is lower, and only the types that are less dangerous to pets are used. Long term treatment by NSAIDS in case of Arthritis management for example, requires the veterinarian supervision. I recommend my clients to perform a periodic partial blood test, while their pet is treated by the medication, in order to make sure that no harm is done to the animal’s internal organs.
Always contact your veterinarian before giving any medication to your pet. If needed, using the appropriate NSAID product may benefit many suffering animals, if done carefully, sensibly and with the right professional veterinary supervision.