Daisy isn’t much bigger than the bunnies who eat dinner in the backyard every night, but her size doesn’t stop her from trying to chase them. One evening when Dad opened the back door to let her outside, she flew across the yard toward the tiny fuzzy athlete who could’ve heard her coming from a mile away. The bunny paused in the middle of his grass meal and lazily trotted toward the other side of the yard. Daisy lagged behind him despite her desperation to keep up, her little legs almost spinning in circles like a cartoon character. During the struggle, she stepped into a hole and hurt her leg.
Daisy embarrassedly limped back inside and we hoped that after some rest and a good night’s sleep she would feel much better in the morning. But despite our hope she continued to limp throughout the next day and we figured she needed medication to give her some relief. But even though a Tylenol or Motrin would have been fine for us to take for a sore ankle, we figured it might not be the same for Daisy, so we called her veterinarian first to check what medication would be safe.
Daisy’s vet confirmed our suspicion— over the counter pain medications for humans are not safe for dogs. She explained that medications containing Acetaminophen such as Tylenol can cause liver failure, and NSAID drugs such as Motrin which are not made specifically for dogs can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure. If a pet ingests these medications, urgent veterinary attention is crucial to avoid organ damage. Even though few human medications are able to be given to dogs (for example, many dogs take Benadryl to help with their allergies), it is still necessary to check with a vet before giving any medication to ensure correct dosing and safety.
Daisy’s veterinarian prescribed an anti-inflammatory specifically for dogs which helped reduced her pain until her leg healed. Even though there is always a risk of side effects with any medication, giving veterinarian prescribed medication ensured Daisy received the correct dose for her weight, ensured the medication was given correctly, and ensured it was as safe as possible for her to take.
Even though a medication might be safe humans does not automatically guarantee it is safe for pet use. Giving an over the counter human medication without veterinary direction is not recommended. While some human medications are able to be given to dogs (such as Benadryl), first check with a vet for proper dosing and to confirm the medication is safe for your pet’s specific needs. Some commonly used human medications are wrongly assumed to be safe for pets but are actually toxic.