Curious dogs and cats often get into things that aren't good for them, which can have tragic results. Many everyday household items are toxic to pets, and here's what pet parents need to know about keeping their pets safe.
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication used to treat various conditions, including headaches, dental pain, arthritis, cramps, and muscle aches. Common names for ibuprofen include Advil and Motrin.
Although ibuprofen is harmless to humans when used as directed, it is toxic to domestic pets. Affected animals experience damage to their livers, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. Signs of toxicity include:
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive drooling
- Extreme stomach sensitivity
Seizures, shock, and coma characterize severe toxicity.
Although toxic doses depend on individual animals' weight and overall condition, dogs can experience symptoms after doses as small as 25 mg/kg. At doses of 175 mg/kg, most dogs enter acute renal failure, and those that ingest 400 mg/kg typically have seizures, go into shock, and slip into comas. Death occurs from doses of 600 mg/kg or above.
Cats are approximately twice as sensitive to ibuprofen effects as dogs.
Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in a wide range of over-the-counter pain and fever relievers for human use. Brand names include Tylenol and Midol, and Midol may also contain caffeine, which can be life-threatening to cats and dogs.
Acetaminophen is sometimes prescribed under the supervision of a veterinarian for dogs suffering from analgesia. Still, it can cause liver damage in pets and interfere with red blood cells' ability to carry oxygen. Symptoms of acetaminophen toxicity include:
- Digestive distress
- Yellowing of the eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Excessive panting
Younger and smaller dogs have a higher risk than older and larger dogs. Acetaminophen toxicity generally begins at 40 mg/kg, and 1000 mg/kg or more causes rapid death.
There is no such thing as a safe dose of acetaminophen for cats because it causes a blood disorder known as methemoglobinemia. This condition severely limits oxidation in red blood cells, resulting in acute anemia. In severe cases, the animal's blood will turn brown.
Derived from an alpine herb and commonly used in topical creams and gels for reducing inflammation and relieving muscle pain, arnica is highly toxic to domestic pets. Ingesting arnica can cause:
- Rapid breathing
- Accelerated heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
Because arnica can also cause bleeding disorders in dogs and cats, pet parents should call Pet Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 immediately if their pet ingests arnica.
Other Medications Harmful to Pets
A range of other medications can harm domestic pets. Here is a partial list of medicine cabinet contents containing pet toxins:
- Birth control pills
- Sleeping aids
- Blood pressure prescriptions
- Cholesterol-lowering medications
Overdoses of prescription pet medications may also have harmful effects. For instance, vets often prescribe thyroid hormones for pets, but the animal may experience nervousness, aggression, accelerated heart rate, and tremors when prescribed doses are exceeded.
Toxic Household Items and Chemicals
Cleaning products contain bleach and other ingredients that are harmful to pets if ingested. Cosmetic and personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, and essential oils are also unsafe. Both traditional and e-cigarettes and other tobacco products are also poisonous to pets. Auto fluids such as windshield wiper formula, brake fluid, and transmission fluid are dangerous to pets, but the biggest culprit of all is liquid antifreeze. This is because antifreeze has a sweet taste that some pets find appealing.
The most lethal form of antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, but any form is often fatal if ingested. Immediate treatment is essential. Symptoms include:
- Shakiness and unsteadiness
- Acute renal failure within 18 to 36 hours
Pet parents need to ensure all potentially harmful products are always secured in medicine chests and locking cabinets. Garage floors should be kept free of toxic substances, and pets should be crated or in another safe area when pet parents perform household cleaning tasks.
If the pet has to visit the local emergency veterinary clinic for suspected poisoning, pet parents should take the product container.
Contact Fuzzy for More Information
Pet parents with questions and concerns about providing a safe household for their pets can contact a Fuzzy Vet with dog and cat health questions 24 hours per day, seven days per week.