Preventing Pet Poisonings | NBC 6 South Florida
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Preventing Pet Poisonings

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dr. Ian Kupkee offers tips on keeping your pets safe from common household medicines. (Published Monday, March 2, 2015)

    by Dr. Ian Kupkee, Sabal Chase Animal Clinic

    March is Poison Awareness Month. In this series, Dr. Kupkee discusses some of the most common causes of toxicity in pets, and what you can do to prevent them.
    Almost every day our clinic receives a call from a concerned pet parent asking which over-the-counter medications they can give to their pets. The short answer is, not many. Sadly, many pet owners assume that if a medication is safe for humans, especially children, then it must be safe for animals. Our pets’ bodies are different. They do not metabolize substances in the same way that we do. Let’s take a look at some of the most common culprits of medication toxicity.
    Tylenol
    The “pain reliever hospitals trust most” is perhaps the number one reason our pets are rushed to the emergency clinic. The active ingredient in Tylenol, acetaminophen, has been linked to liver failure in both dogs and cats. Cats are especially susceptible to acetaminophen poisoning as even a single, child-sized dose can be fatal. Many people assume that if it is safe for babies, it is safe for pets. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    Ibuprofen and Naproxen
    These common over-the-counter pain medicines can cause bleeding ulcers and irreversible kidney damage. If you suspect your pet is in pain, call your veterinarian for a veterinary approved alternative.
    Aspirin
    Back in the old days, veterinarians would prescribe baby aspirin or buffered aspirin for pets. We now know that this seemingly benign drug can cause ulcers, internal bleeding, liver damage, and kidney damage.
    Adderall
    Commonly used to treat ADHD in children, Adderall contains stimulants that cause hyperactivity, high fevers, elevated heart rates, tremors and seizures in our pets. It also contains a binder that many users report as having a sweet, citrus-like taste. It is entirely possible that this is why pets find it irresistible. Make sure children who are taking these medications understand that they can never be given to pets.
    Sleep Aids
    Medications such as Ambien and Clonazapam can lead to extreme agitation and elevated heart rates in pets. Because these pills are often kept on bedside tables, they are easy for pets to find and ingest.
    Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications
    While certain medications can be used for pets in very small doses, most drugs of this type can cause anxiety, tremors, excessive vocalization and seizures. Do not ask “Dr.Google” for advice on dosing your pets, and do not attempt to medicate them for anxiety without a veterinarian’s supervision.
    Decongestants- The Devil in the “D”-tails
    Certain antihistamines, such as Benadryl and Claritin are perfectly safe for pets. However, certain varieties of these drugs contain decongestants such as pseudoephedrine, that can lead to dangerous heart palpitations. Be sure to check with your veterinarian regarding antihistamine doses and never, ever use a product containing decongestants. Helpful hint: an antihistamine that ends with “-D” probably contains a decongestant. A good rule of thumb when shopping for these drugs is “D stands for Don’t”. Never give Psuedophed intentionally, and keep those pretty red tablets out of Fluffy’s reach.
    Cough and Cold Medicines
    There are times when it is appropriate to treat a coughing pet with over-the-counter cough medicine intended for children. That being said, most of these drugs contain acetaminophen and/or pseudoephedrine. If your veterinarian recommends one of these products, have him/her write down exactly what you should purchase, including which active ingredients should be included. If you must ask the pharmacist to get it for you, chances are you are getting the wrong product, as defined by one containing pseudoephedrine. Stop, call your vet, and get clarification before buying anything. Remember, pharmacists are not trained in veterinary medicine, and it is not their job to be familiar with off-label, veterinary uses of human products. If you find yourself getting conflicting opinions, go with your vet’s. Your pets are our patients and our responsibility.
    Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications
    While certain medications can be used for pets in very small doses, most drugs of this type can cause anxiety, tremors, excessive vocalization and seizures. Do not ask “Dr.Google” for advice on dosing your pets, and do not attempt to medicate them for anxiety without a veterinarian’s supervision.
    Marijuana
    While medicinal uses are being studied by veterinary researchers, marijuana remains one of the leading causes of drug-related toxicity. Pets who ingest marijuana usually do so in large doses, causing lethargy, respiratory depression, dangerously low heart rates, low blood pressure, coma, and seizures. They are often guilty of raiding the “special brownies”, and suffer from the toxic effects of chocolate as well.
    If you think your pet has gotten into your stash, the most important thing you can do is to be honest with your veterinarian. Several years ago, I treated a teacup Yorkie who presented several times in the course of a week with dilated pupils, shallow breathing, and neurological symptoms. We tested her for hypoglycemia, liver problems, distemper, as well as a host of rare conditions that would have put Dr. House to shame. Every test came back normal. It wasn’t until I recommended a $3000 MRI with a veterinary neurologist that the teenage son sheepishly admitted to “doping” the dog in an attempt to stop her from barking. Your veterinarian is not there to judge you. Our job is to help your pet, and we cannot do that without knowing the facts. Be honest, and don’t attempt any “herbal remedies” at home.
    Do you have a question for Dr. Kupkee? Click here to send him an emai.
    Click here to check out deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 viewers! http://www.sabalchaseanimalclinic.com/nbc6.html

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