Medications that can be beneficial for humans may just cause unpleasant side effects in our dogs and cats. You should avoid allowing your pet any kind of medicine for people, because even a small amount can result in serious illness and in some cases, death.
As a pet parent, it’s important to keep all your medications in a safe and secure place, completely out of your pet’s reach. (May we suggest a secure medicine cabinet?)
In order to help you prepare in pet-proofing your home—here are the five common prescription drugs and what to expect if your pet accidentally ingests one.
1. Lipitor® (atorvastatin)
Lipitor is often used to reduce cholesterol levels. Generally when pets get into Lipitor, only mild side effects are seen, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Therefore, Lipitor is not considered to have high toxicity levels for pets. While some human drugs are utilized in veterinary medicine, Lipitor is not.
2. Nexium® (esomeprazole)
Nexium is an anti-ulcer medication and proton-pump inhibitor that results in decreased gastric acid secretion. While it is utilized in veterinary medicine for some pets, mild side effects can include vomiting and diarrhea. Pet owners of dogs or cats that get into this drug should watch their pet closely, but not be alarmed since symptoms will generally subside on their own.
3. Plavix® (clopidogrel)
In third place is Plavix, which is a drug that affects platelets in humans, inhibiting clot formation and reducing the risk of stroke. When pets get into Plavix, it has a wide margin of safety and generally is not considered to be acutely toxic. Only mild vomiting or diarrhea may be seen.
4. Advair Diskus® (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol)
Often used for treating asthma and administered through an inhaler, Advair Diskus contains beta-agonist drugs that expand the lungs and steroids that decrease inflammation in the lungs. Because inhalers contain many doses, dogs that chew into them are exposed to massive amounts of the drug all at once. This often results in heart arrhythmias, an elevated heart rate, agitation, vomiting and even acute collapse. Severe electrolyte abnormalities such as very low potassium levels are likely and can be life-threatening without immediate veterinary treatment.
5. Abilify® (aripiprazole)
Abilify contains aripiprazole, an atypical antipsychotic agent that is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and clinical depression. It is important to keep this drug out of the reach of pets, as ingestion can result in profound lethargy, vomiting, hyperthermia, significant changes in heart rate and blood pressure, and seizures. If a pet ingests this drug, immediate veterinary attention is needed.
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