Which top human medications are poisonous to pets?

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It was recently revealed that the prescription drugs Americans spend the most money on are (in this order): Lipitor, Nexium, Plavix, Advair Diskus and Abilify. 

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And this week, Pet Poison Helpline released a look at how those medications affect cats and dogs — because pets have a tendency to get into their humans’ meds.

“Nearly half of the calls we receive are for pets that have accidentally ingested human medications,” Pet Poison Helpline’s Justine Lee, DVM, says in the press release.

Here’s a summary of the report (see a PDF of the full press release here). Note: Even if a substance is considered not highly toxic, call your vet
immediately if you think your pet has ingested it. Better safe than sorry.

5. Abilify: Abilify, used to treat depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can cause severe lethargy, vomiting, hyperthermia (overheating) and seizures in your pet, and have a major impact on her heart rate and blood pressure — if she ingests this drug, take her to the vet ASAP.

4. Advair Diskus: If your dog chews into one of these asthma inhalers, he’ll be exposed to high doses of medication and can experience heart arrhythmia, an elevated heart rate, agitation, vomiting and even acute collapse. Another side effect is severe electrolyte abnormalities, which can be deadly. If you think your pet has gotten into this medication, take him to the vet immediately.

3. Plavix: In humans, Plavix inhibits blood clotting and reduces the risk of stroke. It’s generally not considered acutely toxic to dogs and cats, and will probably cause only mild vomiting or diarrhea.

2. Nexium: An anti-ulcer medication, Nexium is sometimes given to pets by veterinarians, with mild side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog or cat gets into your Nexium, keep a close eye on her, but her symptoms will most likely go away on their own.

1. Lipitor: This cholesterol drug is not considered highly toxic for pets — your dog or cat will probably have only some vomiting or diarrhea if he ingests it.

I asked Dr. Lee if Pet Poison Helpline’s advice on the five medications applies to pets other than cats and dogs, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and birds.


“For the most part, if it’s harmful to a dog or cat, it’s likely more
dangerous to other pets,” she says. “They have a faster metabolism and
unique anatomy, making it potentially deadly for them most of the time.”

No matter what kind of pet you have, if you think she has eaten
something poisonous, call your vet or one of the pet-poison hotlines
listed below (charges may apply).
“The sooner you identify the poisoning and get it treated,” says Dr.
Lee, “the less
harmful to your pet, the easier to treat, and the less expensive [it may
be].”

Pet Poison Helpline – $35 a call
800-213-6680

ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center – $65 a call, or free unlimited calls with a $16.99-a-year HomeAgain membership.

888-426-4435

Tell us: Have you ever had a pet-poisoning scare? What happened?


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