Tigger’s owner felt horrible as she watched her little kitty struggling for breath inside the thick plexiglass oxygen incubator, attached to several IV lines and monitors. She had never imagined that giving her cat a Tylenol to help her feel better after a minor injury could kill her.

It is tempting to medicate your pets. After all, many medications that your veterinarian prescribes are human medications. You might have the same antibiotic prescription that your dog does, or your cat might be prescribed Prozac for an anxiety disorder. 

The truth is that humans and pets are different species, and what is safe for you is not always safe for them. Even further, what is safe for a dog is not necessarily safe for a cat and vice versa. Here are a few of the more common dangerous human medications:

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen)

Even at low doses these types of medications are dangerous.

They can cause stomach or intestinal ulcers and even kidney damage, particularly in cats.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

This commonly used human medication can cause liver damage in dogs. Cats are even more sensitive and experience damage to their red blood cells that make their bodies unable to transport oxygen even at low doses.

  • Anti-depressants

At inappropriate doses anti-depressants can lead to something called serotonin-syndrome. Symptoms include agitation, increased body temperature, high blood pressure, increase heart rate, disorientation, and even seizures.

  • Pseudoephedrine

This popular decongestant can cause a high heart rate, increased blood pressure, elevated body temperature, and seizures in animals.

Moral of the story? Drugs are metabolized very differently from species to species. Before you ever administer a medication to your pet, touch base with us at Suburban Animal Hospital or with your veterinarian to be sure that the medication and dosage is a safe and appropriate one.