9 Human Medications That Can Poison Your Dog

9 Human Medications That Can Poison Your Dog

Author WDF Staff


Pet owners who want to pet-proof their home should start with their own medicine cabinet. Human medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, account for nearly half of all calls received by poison helplines. Pet poisonings due to human medications are common. They can be very serious, whether your dog accidentally chewed into a pill bottle or a well-intentioned pet owner switched medication (giving their pet a human medication).

The following is a list of the human medications most commonly ingested by dogs and some veterinary advice on how to avoid pet poisoning from human medications.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used and widely available, with many of them available over the counter. These medications treat people's pain, inflammation, and fever. Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and indomethacin are examples of NSAIDs. Orally administered NSAIDs are rapidly absorbed in dogs. Most reach peak blood concentrations within three hours. These medications' most common side effects are gastrointestinal irritation and GI tract damage.

german shepherd puppy

NSAIDs have little effect on the kidneys at recommended dosages. Still, renal damage has occurred in overdose cases (and also with chronic use). The use of two NSAIDs simultaneously can result in kidney dysfunction. Furthermore, NSAID overdose has resulted in clotting issues and liver disease. These drugs can also interact with other medications.

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2. Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is another widely available human medication frequently used to treat pain and inflammation in dogs. This medication, marketed under the brand names Tylenol and others, is available both over the counter and in some prescription formulations. Dogs are typically exposed through administering acetaminophen by uninformed but well-intentioned owners seeking to treat their animal's fever, pain, or inflammation.

Poisoning can occur as a result of a single high-dose exposure or chronic low-dose exposure.

Acetaminophen poisoning in dogs causes liver damage and, in high enough doses, liver failure. Lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and jaundice are some of the clinical symptoms. Swelling of the face and paws is another common symptom. Cats are even more sensitive to acetaminophen than dogs, and a single tablet can cause clinical signs.

3. Medications for ADHD

Amphetamine, a powerful stimulant, is found in medications used to treat attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. Dogs who consume these medications may experience life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature, and even cardiac and respiratory arrest.

sad beagle

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4. Medications for high blood pressure

ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, two types of blood pressure medications, can cause weakness, stumbling, and dangerously low blood pressure.

5. Medications for sleep

Sleep-aid medications such as Xanax, Ambien, and Valium can cause dogs to become lethargic, appear intoxicated, and, in some cases, have dangerously slowed breathing rates. After ingesting these drugs, some dogs become incredibly agitated.

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6. Antidepressants

While antidepressant medications are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can result in severe neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors, and seizures. Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect, causing dangerously high heart rates, blood pressure, and body temperature. Pets, particularly cats, appear to enjoy the taste of Effexor and frequently consume the entire pill. Unfortunately, just one pill can result in severe poisoning.

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7. Contraception

Birth control pills are frequently packaged in irresistible packages for dogs. Fortunately, small amounts of these medications rarely cause problems. Large doses of estrogen and estradiol, on the other hand, can cause bone marrow suppression, especially in birds. Furthermore, female dogs that are not spayed are at a higher risk of estrogen poisoning side effects.

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8. Thyroid hormones

Pets, particularly dogs, can suffer from underactive thyroids. Surprisingly, the dose of thyroid hormone required to treat dogs is much higher than the dose needed to treat humans. As a result, if dogs inadvertently consume thyroid hormones at home, it rarely causes problems. Large acute overdoses in cats and dogs, on the other hand, can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, a rapid heart rate, and aggression.

9. Cholesterol-lowering medications

These well-known medications, also known as "statins," are widely used in the United States. Even though pets do not typically have high cholesterol, they may get into the pill bottle. Fortunately, most "statin" ingestions result in only mild vomiting or diarrhea. Serious side effects from these drugs occur only after long-term use, not after a single ingestion.

Tips for avoiding toxications

  • Never store loose pills in a Ziploc bag because those bags are too easy to chew through. Make sure that any visitors to your home do the same, keeping their medications high up or out of reach.
  • If you store your medication in a weekly pill container, keep it in a cabinet out of reach of your pets. Unfortunately, if they get their hands on it, some pets may mistake the pill container for a plastic chew toy.
  • Never keep your medications in the same room as your pet's medications – The Pet Poison Helpline frequently receives calls from concerned pet owners who have inadvertently given their pets their medication.
  • Hang up your purse. Inquisitive pets will investigate the contents of your bag, and simply putting your purse up and out of reach can help prevent exposure to potentially dangerous medications.

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It's also worth noting that while a medication may be safe for children, it might not be safe for animals. In fact, human drugs are involved in nearly half of all pet poisonings. Medication is metabolized very differently in pets than in humans. Even seemingly innocuous over-the-counter or herbal pills can be fatal to pets. If your pet has ingested a human over-the-counter or prescription medication, contact your veterinarian immediately or Pet Poison Helpline's 24-hour animal poison control center at 855-764-7661.

World Dog Finder team

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