By: Amanda Marcum, CVT
Drugs! We all have cabinets chock full of them. Prescription medications, allergy medications, pain relievers, vitamins; they’re all there at our fingertips, whenever we need them. While these pills, capsules, and elixirs do great things for us humans, they do pose a serious health risk if accidentally ingested by our animal companions. Because of this risk, it is important not to leave any medications out where animals may encounter them. This applies not only to stray tablets, but to sealed containers as well. A plastic pill vial could become Rover’s new chew toy, and it doesn’t take long for those powerful jaws to gain access to the medication inside. Cats, birds, and rodents are just as capable of destroying a medicinal container, so don’t think you can slack off on safety just because you don’t own a dog.
If you do have a situation occur where an animal gains access to a medication, it is imperative to call your veterinary clinic, or after hours clinic, immediately. Have the medication with you when you call; you will be asked to provide the name and milligram amount of the drug over the phone. If possible, you should get an idea of how much of the medication the animal may have consumed, and give a time frame as to when the pet came in contact with the medication; did it just happen, or did you just get home from an eight hour work day to find a chewed up bottle on the floor? If you are instructed to take the animal to the hospital, be sure to take the medication along with you. Many adverse reactions and overdoses can be corrected with fast action by the pet owner. The longer a harmful medication is in the animal’s body, the more time it has to be absorbed, and potentially the harder it is to overcome.
The easiest way to prevent accidental medicine exposure in animals is to keep those medications in a cabinet, away from curious pets. If you take a tablet out of a bottle, consume the tablet; don’t leave it on the table for later. If an accidental ingestion does occur, act fast, and listen to the instructions of you veterinary staff.
When Rover puts a hole in your brand new shoe, and you feel that splitting headache coming on, go ahead and take that aspirin; just make sure you put the bottle away when you are done.