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Medicines for dogs and cats: how to administer and what to do in case of poisoning?

Medicines for dogs and cats

One of the most common conditions in dogs and cats that a handler seeks help from in his own first aid kit is pain.

It is suffering, the evident discomfort of a beloved pet, that awakens in a person the desire to bring immediate relief to his friend.

Supported by a logical (seemingly) argument: "if it does not hurt a person, it will not hurt the dog / cat ", the concerned guardian gives the suffering poor person a pill with the hope that it will bring him relief.

It is at this point that he commits a mistake that could cost the animal's life

The skillful use of drugs in animals, both for therapeutic and prophylactic purposes, requires a great deal of knowledge and experience.

The veterinarian should know not only the composition of the drug, its effects or side effects, but also must be aware of how a given substance will behave in the body, in which processes it will participate and how it will affect individual tissues and organs.

Correct and effective treatment is therefore the result of knowledge from many fields, ranging from pathophysiology, through biochemistry, pharmacology, diagnostics, immunology and many other branches of clinical sciences, to toxicology.

However, sometimes even such a great knowledge of various processes taking place in a living organism will not protect us from the occurrence of side effects or even poisoning caused by drugs.

A number of agents, both in veterinary and human medicine, can have unpredictable or toxic effects.

So if even an experienced veterinarian has to think deeply about the use of certain substances in a dog or cat, why caretakers of pets so carelessly reach for - often strong - human drugs and give them to their pupils?

In most cases, it is simply ignorance.

pet keepers do not realize that administering a human preparation, taken by them without any consequences, may end tragically for the pet.

This text is devoted to drugs used in animals.

Particular emphasis is placed on human preparations, but you will also find information that will allow you to avoid frequent, but very dangerous mistakes made when trying to self-medicate your dog or cat.

You will also learn about selected methods of administering medications to your pet, learn which preparations you can give at home and which must not be offered to pets under any circumstances, and learn to recognize the most common side effects that appear after consuming certain medications.

I firmly believe that with this knowledge you will avoid the dangers of inappropriate medication use for your pet.

  • Medicines prescribed by a veterinarian
  • How to administer medications at home?
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Predisposition to side effects
  • The most common side effects
  • How to reduce the side effects of drugs?
  • Long-term drugs
  • Administering oral medications
  • How to give your dog a tablet?
  • How to give your cat a pill?
    • Administering liquid medications
  • Types of drugs for animals
    • Antibiotics
    • Antifungal drugs
    • Antiviral drugs
    • Antiparasitic drugs
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Opioid painkillers
    • Glucocorticosteroids
    • Sedatives
    • Hormones
    • Cardiac drugs
    • Drugs used in diseases of the respiratory system
    • Diuretics
    • Antiemetic drugs
    • Medicines that inhibit the secretion of gastric acid
    • Laxatives
    • Antidiarrheal drugs
    • Vascular drugs
    • Antihistamines
    • Immunostimulating drugs
    • Antineoplastic drugs
  • Human drugs administered to animals
  • Cascade
  • Advantages of using human drugs
    • price
    • Wide availability
    • Predictability of operation
  • Disadvantages of using human drugs
  • Over-the-counter medications (OTC)
  • Poisoning with human drugs
  • How to avoid drug poisoning?
  • Human drugs most often causing poisoning
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Acetaminophen (Paracetamol)
    • Cholecalciferol
    • Sedatives, antidepressants, hypnotics and anticonvulsants
    • Benzodiazepines and sleep aids
    • Antidepressants
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
    • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
    • Anticonvulsants
    • Hypnotics
    • Drugs used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
    • Drugs used in gynecology
    • Cardiac drugs
    • Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACEI) inhibitors
    • Beta blockers
    • Calcium channel blockers
    • Diuretics
    • Thyroid hormones
  • Medicines that can be administered to animals
  • Examples of human drugs used in animals
    • Drugs with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties
    • ACEI
    • Antiemetic drugs - domperidone
    • Antifungal agents
    • Antiprotozoal agents
    • Glucocorticosteroids
    • Diuretics
    • Stomach acid inhibitors
    • Hormones
    • Intravenous anesthetics
    • Macrocyclic lactones
    • Drugs for an overactive thyroid gland
    • Phosphodiesterase inhibitors
    • Tyrosine kinase receptor inhibitors
    • Antihistaminic drugs
    • Antibiotics
    • Drugs with antidepressant, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant and sedative effects
    • Cytotoxic drugs
  • Over-the-counter medications given to animals on a temporary basis
    • Antihistamines
  • Factors influencing the action of drugs
    • Drug dependent factors
    • Organism-dependent factors
    • Environmental factors
  • Drug interactions

Medicines prescribed by a veterinarian

Medicines prescribed by a veterinarian

Each type of animal therapy - whether it will be the use of dietary supplements, improving the quality of the coat, or the treatment of serious diseases or the fight against pain - should be initiated by a veterinarian in the clinic.

Depending on the clinical condition of the patient and the specificity of the disease - such hospital treatment may be very short or extend to several days or even weeks.

As a rule, however, the pet quite quickly goes home, where the treatment continues.

And now the entire obligation to administer drugs to a friendly quadruped lies with the pet's guardian, i.e. you.

I know from experience that not everyone copes well with it, not every dog ​​or cat will allow itself such interference.

The situation is different in the clinic, where - a frightened and reconciled with fate, often also a painful or weak animal, takes oral drugs without opposition, and it is completely different at home.

Here the animal is the lord of the estate, in its surroundings, in a safe place where it no longer feels threatened.

So he can show his assertiveness very firmly, and the helpless caregiver does not know how to smuggle a pill from him.

Such an uncompromising position of the furry "freedom fighter " causes a lot of trouble, because most drugs should be administered at fixed times.

So if the fight with the pet is prolonged, nervousness on the part of the dog or cat and panic on the part of the guardian quickly creep in.

In addition, the patient, who is at home, is usually stronger, feels better and giving him the drug is even more difficult.

It is these situations that are the source of frequent questions from caregivers:

Why here, in the office, my dog ​​/ cat was taking medication without any problems, and at home it is an impossible thing?

Well, because he is already stronger, more self-confident, and often also disaffected with (often) unpalatable pharmaceuticals.

How to administer medications at home?

How to administer medications?

Here are some tips on how to - in the least traumatic way - give your pets home medication.

I will also tell you a little about the specificities used in veterinary medicine - both strictly animal and human, which veterinarians often use to treat their patients.

In order for the therapy of the four-legged to be effective, it is necessary to administer the drugs correctly.

This statement may seem like a truism, but only on the surface.

Of course, each of us knows that in order to cure an animal, it must be cured.

However, hundreds of conversations with pet owners about how to administer the drugs made me realize that this sentence is not that trivial.

It very often happens that what a frightened pet handler hears is completely different from what a veterinarian says when prescribing treatment.

For this reason, there are a number of mistakes and errors that can drastically affect the course of treatment, as well as harm the animal.

So what can you do to keep your pet safe while on medication??

  1. While still in the office with your pet, at the time of prescribing the drug:
    • Get a notebook and pen and write down everything you consider important.
      Sure, you'll get a discharge card with recommendations, but taking a note yourself will help you better understand the doctor's words.
    • If your pet has ever had any problems with taking medication or developed any disturbing symptoms, be sure to inform your veterinarian.
      Tell us what the substances were, in what doses, how the animal reacted to the preparation and what the consequences were (Dose reduction? Discontinuation of the drug? Need for supportive treatment?).
    • Be sure to tell your doctor about any other medications or supplements you are giving your pet.
      Tell him what these substances are, for what purpose you use them, in what doses and how long the dog or cat is treated with them.
    • Ask your doctor about the purpose of administering this particular preparation, what are the most common side effects and find out if there are any alternatives to the substance.
    • Ask for the dosage details and the method of administering the drug:
      • What dose?
        It should be precisely presented, e.g. 1 tablet orally every 8 hours.
        Do not accept that you are to give e.g. 15 mg of the substance in question.
        The doctor is to calculate the dose in such a way that the caregiver will be able to measure it without any problems.
        Drug doses should therefore be administered in the number of tablets, drops, ampoules, capsules, measures, etc.
      • With what frequency?
        Don't be afraid to ask!
        If you feel that your doctor has not specified the frequency of administration precisely enough, please refine it.
        It happens that caregivers, seeing the recommendation to administer the drug 3 times a day, give a tablet, e.g. every 4 hours - starting in the morning and ending in the evening.
        It's not quite the point.
        Term "3 times per day "Is most often a replacement for "every 8 hours ".
        It can be seen here that the drug should also be administered at night.
      • How long?
        As a rule, the doctor determines the time of administration of the drug, e.g. "For 10 days " or "until the packaging is finished ".
        It also happens that the drug must be administered until the follow-up visit at the office, during which decisions regarding further treatment are made.
      • What time of the day / night?
        There are drugs that are best given in the morning and others in the evening.
        Ask your doctor about the best time to administer the drug.
      • In what form the drug will be administered?
        Will it be capsules, tablets, oral fluid?
      • Can the drug be crushed / crushed / dissolved in water / added to food?
        This information will be useful to you later at home.
        It may turn out that the medicine recommended by the vet will be forced to smuggle your pet e.g. in eating.
        Make sure you can do this.
      • Should the drug be administered on an empty stomach or with food?
      • What to do if you forget to administer the drug?
      • What to do if the dog or cat spits a pill?
      • What to do when the amount of medication runs out?
      • Do you need gloves for the application??
        Certain classes of drugs should indeed be administered with gloves to avoid contact with the caregiver's skin.
        An example is oral cancer drugs.
        Do not touch such drugs, and in the event of contact with the skin or mucous membranes, rinse immediately with plenty of water.
    • Under what conditions to store the drug?
      Some preparations require lower temperatures and are recommended to be refrigerated, while others can be stored at room temperature.
      The doctor will inform you about the method of transporting and keeping the medications.
    • If your medication administration clashes with your daily schedule, be sure to tell your doctor.
      For example, if a given preparation should be administered every 8 hours, and you work longer, you will not be able to give the medicine regularly (unless someone in your household replaces you).
      In this situation, the veterinarian may change the formulation that may be administered less frequently.
    • What abnormal symptoms to look for when administering the drug?
      Which should worry?
    • How to avoid side effects of the drug?
    • How to help an animal if side effects appear?
    • In the case of filling the prescription in a pharmacy, it happens that pharmacists suggest substitutes for a given drug.
      Please do not agree to this, unless you have consulted your prescriber and they have authorized it.
      Many pharmacists also question the prescribed dose of medicine for an animal, causing unnecessary anxiety in the customer.
      Medicines in animals differ significantly in the dosing regimen from that recommended for humans.
      Such differences even exist between the dosing of drugs for dogs and cats.
  2. When administering medication at home:
    • Always follow your veterinarian's instructions.
      You have them written on the discharge card or you have taken notes yourself.
      If you miss something, don't hesitate to call the clinic and ask for details.
    • Before using the drug, read the leaflet carefully, especially the paragraphs on contraindications and side effects.
      If you have any doubts while reading it, consult your veterinarian immediately.
    • Don't skip medication.
      It's best to set an alarm on your phone to remind you about the medicine at the appointed time.
      Omission of a dose of the drug reduces its therapeutic level in the blood, which in turn reduces the effectiveness of the treatment.
    • Give medications at fixed times.
      Being late a few minutes shouldn't hurt your pet, but try to avoid slippage.
      There are some specific measures, such as. luminal, where even a short delay in administration may provoke a recurrence of symptoms in more sensitive patients.
    • If you accidentally miss a dose, contact your doctor and ask what to do in this situation.
      As a rule, the missed dose is given as soon as possible, but without "making up" for the loss.
      However, it is strictly dependent on the type of drug and the period that has elapsed since the scheduled time of administration.
      Administering appropriate doses of drugs is extremely important because it is one of the most important factors influencing the effectiveness of therapy. If you want your dog or cat to feel better quickly, you need to consistently and meticulously administer all medications recommended by your veterinarian.
    • Under no circumstances should you change the dose yourself, even if it seems too low or too high to you.
      The doctor has adapted it specifically for your dog / cat, and any attempts to change the dosage may lead to a lack of treatment effect, or to symptoms of overdose or even intoxication.
      However, if in doubt, talk to your veterinarian about them.
    • Also, never stop taking medication yourself as soon as your dog or cat is feeling better.
      Unfortunately, this is a very common mistake of many animal keepers.
      When they notice that the symptoms disappear and the pet feels well, they stop administering drugs, considering the therapy finished.
      Never do that!
      The veterinarian determines the appropriate time to take medications in relation to the knowledge of the course of the disease.
      He knows that although the clinical symptoms have begun to recede, the cause is still smoldering in the body.
      Therefore, premature discontinuation of drugs may not only result in a quick relapse of the disease, with a more severe - this time - course, but also may make the drug no longer helpful.
      This happens with antibiotic therapy, when bacteria become resistant to a given antibiotic or there are complications with other, more malignant bacterial strains.
      Then the treatment time can be substantially extended from 2 to 6 even weeks (in extreme cases and longer).
      Another aspect of stopping the drug too quickly is the possibility of serious complications.
      Certain classes of drugs (especially glucocorticoids) should be discontinued slowly with a gradual reduction in the dose.
    • Consult a doctor immediately if an overdose has occurred, even if the fur does not show symptoms of poisoning.
    • Store drugs in conditions recommended by the drug manufacturer or a veterinarian.
      Do not overflow, pour over or transfer the lacquer from their original packaging to other containers.
    • Store drugs in a separate place, away from human drugs, so that they will not be accidentally ingested by humans.
    • Pay attention to the way you administer the drug - some substances are better absorbed when the stomach is empty, while others require a little food.
    • Store drugs in a safe place, out of the reach of children and animals.
    • Do not give your pets any other additional medications without consulting your veterinarian.
    • When administering more drugs, carefully check their names and dosage for each application.
      In a hurry, you can mix up the doses of individual preparations.
    • Do not give your pet medications that are not prescribed for him (unless directed by a doctor).
    • Do not self-administer medications intended for a dog - a cat, and vice versa.
    • Never stop the medication yourself.
      There are certain groups of medications whose doses must be reduced gradually.
      Sudden discontinuation of treatment may have serious consequences.
      This rule is especially important in the case of steroid therapy.
    • Never give drugs that are expired.
    • If you keep medications in your purse or backpack, keep them tightly closed and keep them out of reach of dogs or cats.
      They are just waiting for the hand luggage to be plundered.
      So if they get extra fancy in the form of colorful pills in a cool package, they can take it at face value and swallow it triumphantly (as a well-deserved reward for the effort and effort put into searching the purse).
    • Do not count the doses of the drug yourself.
      Many caregivers tend to estimate the dose according to the principle:
      "I gave the German Shepherd 1 tablet, then I will give the Pekingese a quarter ".
      Only a veterinarian calculates the exact dose of a drug, even a human one.
    • Remember, even if a drug is 100% safe for children, it doesn't have to be for pets.
      Even over-the-counter supplements or herbal remedies can cause serious poisoning in pets.

Okay, what if you caught your pet eating drugs that were not intended for him??

Or you gave him the medicine yourself, not knowing that it could harm him?

  1. Call the clinic immediately, inform the staff about the situation and ask what you can do.
    The doctor will surely ask you what kind of medicine the unfortunate man consumed, in what amount, how long has it been since ingestion, how old the dog or cat is, and if there are any disturbing symptoms.
    It will also tell you what you can do before you reach the clinic.
  2. Provoke vomiting if the animal has swallowed the drug in time less than 3 hours.
    You can give your dog or cat hydrogen peroxide in its mouth.
  3. If you have activated charcoal at home, give it to your pet in quantity 2 g / kg m.c.
  4. Take your pet to a veterinarian.
  5. Take your medicine pack with you.

Adverse drug reactions

Adverse drug reactions

All medications come with side effects and side effects.

Their intensity and differentiation depends mainly on the type of substance that is part of a given medication.

And in fact, treatment is based on a skillful balancing of the benefits resulting from the planned and needed actions of a given drug and estimating the risk of side effects in a given patient.

Decisions about the use of certain medications are sometimes really difficult.

What to do in a situation where treatment is possible with the use of a substance that - yes, will fight the cause of the disease or reduce clinical symptoms, but at the same time will cause a number of dangerous side effects??

An example is the agents commonly used to treat pain, swelling and inflammation (e.g. meloxicam).

NSAIDs inhibit the release of prostaglandins and therefore have an anti-inflammatory effect.

However, there are also good prostaglandins in the body, such as those that protect the stomach from developing ulcers (prostaglandin E).

Long-term use of this type of medication can lead to gastric problems.

Not only that - NSAIDs also act on renal prostaglandins, leading to a change in blood flow in the kidneys.

This can quickly damage the kidneys.

That is why it is so important to read the leaflets before using a given medicine, observe the pet during the entire treatment period and consult a veterinarian if any side effects occur.

All undesirable effects of drug administration may result either from their side effects (appearing after therapeutic doses) or from toxic effects (most often associated with drug overdose or long-term use).

Toxic effects may occur even with short-term use of the drug in the correct doses - this happens in hypersensitive individuals and in patients with other concomitant diseases (e.g. renal or hepatic insufficiency).

Predisposition to side effects

The harmful effects of various types of drugs and their severity depend on a multitude of factors, the most important of which are:

  1. The size of the dose.
    Large doses of the drug cause side effects faster and more easily than small doses.
    It happens, however, that even 1 tablet of the preparation, which should not be administered to an animal, may cause serious side effects, and even poisoning.
  2. Impaired kidney function.
    Many drugs are excreted by the kidneys, and their proper functioning allows for the rapid elimination of the drug or its (often active) metabolites from the body.
    If the kidneys do not work properly, the excretion of the drug may be inhibited, its accumulation in the body and, as a result, poisoning.
  3. Diseases of the stomach and intestines.
    They can cause side effects to appear faster, especially in the case of drugs that affect the gastrointestinal mucosa, such as. in the case of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  4. Dehydration, hypovolemia, low blood pressure.
    These are factors that may also determine the severity of drug side effects.
    Dehydrated animals with low blood pressure react more intensively to drugs, and their harmful effects on internal organs may be greater.
  5. Liver disease.
    Liver disease is an extremely important factor that plays a significant role in the occurrence of adverse drug reactions.
    As a result of various types of liver diseases, the rate of transformation of the drug slows down, which results in the prolongation of its action and, as a consequence, the appearance of side effects, and even poisoning.
  6. Heart diseases.
    Certain classes of drugs should not be used for heart disease.
    This is due to the influence of some drugs on blood flow and heart rate.
    Their reckless use can lead to many life-threatening disorders.
  7. Stress, trauma, surgery, anesthesia, and fasting can exacerbate drug side effects.
  8. Age.
    In very young animals (newborns) and in elderly animals, the side effects of medications are usually more severe.
  9. Other drugs (interactions). You can read about it later in the content.

The most common side effects

The side effects of drugs vary depending on the type of drug, the dose taken, and the duration of use.

Among the most important are:

  • lack of appetite,
  • diarrhea or constipation,
  • nausea, vomiting,
  • allergic reactions such as:
    • hives,
    • swelling in the eyelid area,
    • itching,
    • dyspnoea,
    • intense salivation,
    • shaky gait,
  • in the case of pregnant females, embryos may die, as well as damage or death of the fetuses,
  • ataxia, incoordination, tremors, fits, severe agitation or depression and apathy,
  • anxiety, nervousness,
  • heart problems (rapid or slow heart beat).

Always read the leaflet carefully before using the product.

Often, pet owners do not associate the symptoms manifested by the dog or cat directly with a given preparation after taking the medicine.

Becoming familiar with the side effects sensitizes the caregiver to these symptoms and helps to catch the moment when they appear.

Fortunately, not every patient will develop side effects.

However, if you have noticed any unusual symptoms that may result from taking the drug, report this fact to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Provide him / her with all the necessary information about the specificity that made the animal feel bad and ask what can be done in such a situation.

How to reduce the side effects of drugs?

When treatment is accompanied by side effects, try to minimize them or - if possible - completely eliminate them.

The veterinarian may take the following actions:

  1. Giving medications on a full or empty stomach (as appropriate).
    Sometimes such minor changes as giving the preparation in a certain amount of food can reduce the discomfort associated with taking the drug.
    In other cases, quite the opposite - only taking the medication on an empty stomach improves the situation.
    Everything depends on the individual tendencies of a given animal and the type of specificity.
  2. It happens that the doctor recommends a complete change of the time of administration of the drug - e.g. instead of in the morning, the dog or cat will not be given the product until late afternoon.
  3. Setting the dose of the drug at such a level that the therapeutic effect is maintained, but with the least possible burden on the body.
    One of the first steps in the event of side effects is to simply reduce the dose of the drug.
    However, this is not always possible.
    It often happens that the side effects only disappear when the dose of the drug is too low to be effective.
    Also sometimes lowering the dose does not improve the patient's condition at all. Then you need to use other methods to reduce side effects.
  4. Introduction of additional protective drugs, the task of which will be to reduce the severity of side effects.
    This is a very common procedure that usually begins at the beginning of therapy.
    And so: along with antibiotics, the animal gets probiotic preparations.
    In the case of steroid therapy, as a rule, doctors prescribe additional gastric protective drugs (e.g. omeprazole, ranitidine).
  5. "Waiting " and supportive treatment.
    Often the introduction of new drugs is accompanied by the emergence of temporary hypersensitivity reactions, which are relatively mild and subside rather quickly as the body gets used to the new substances.
    The doctor may therefore recommend simply observing the pet for 24-48 hours, administering an easily digestible diet and possibly anti-diarrheal or antiemetic preparations.
    If the symptoms disappear during this time, they are considered temporary and the current doses of drugs are not changed.
  6. It may be necessary to shorten the time of drug administration if the side effects are still present, but "acceptable" enough that the administration of the drug can be continued for the minimum time needed to achieve a therapeutic effect.
  7. Replacing the drug with another preparation.
    If there are alternatives to a specific drug that show a similar therapeutic effect and less severe side effects, doctors often use them.
  8. Replacing the form of drug administration - in case of vomiting, injection of drugs may be necessary after each tablet intake.
  9. Complete drug withdrawal.
    If, in fact, the severity of side effects is so intense that the patient's condition deteriorates significantly, it may be necessary to completely discontinue the drug.
    Such action is usually taken as a last resort, when all other methods have turned out to be ineffective.
    One example is the use of cytotoxic drugs in cancer therapy.
    It happens that animals tolerate chemistry very badly and - despite a fairly good response to treatment - they withdraw from further therapy because of drug intolerance.

Long-term drugs

It happens that an animal needs to receive medication for a long time, often even for the rest of its life.

In such a situation, an extremely important factor influencing both the clinical condition of the patient and the effect of the drug itself are regular and quite frequent health checks.

Therefore, in order to monitor the effectiveness of a given drug, as well as its toxicity, regular, scheduled visits to the clinic are necessary.

Particular emphasis is placed on controlling the functions of internal organs involved in the metabolism and excretion of drugs, as well as the tissues involved in their distribution (blood).

Typically, therefore, a complete blood count, serum chemistry (with particular emphasis on liver and kidney functions) and urine tests are performed.
This is especially important when your pet is receiving medications, the wrong or toxic dose of which can even lead to death, such as:

  • insulin,
  • Thyroid hormones,
  • antiepileptic drugs.

Therefore, the veterinarian already determines the frequency of control visits in advance, the dates of which must be strictly adhered to.

Administering oral medications

Administering oral medications

Oral medications most often take the form of:

  • tablets,
  • capsules,
  • dragees,
  • powder,
  • fluid.

Your veterinarian will be sure to tell you whether the drug should be administered with food or on an empty stomach.

It will also tell you if you can dissolve the drug in a little water.

If there are no contraindications, try to administer the medication with a little food.

The doctor will determine the frequency of administering medications (e.g. 3 times per day, or 1 time a day in the evening e.t.c.) as well as the duration of treatment (e.g. pass through 7 days e.t.c.).

I often hear information from terrified clients in my office:

But doctor, my dog ​​won't take these pills. It is not possible. He just spits everything out.

This is one of the most frequent dilemmas I face when prescribing treatment.

Anyway, no wonder.

Animals can be incredibly stubborn in refusing to take medication, and are incredibly perceptive and know exactly when and what tricks you go to to achieve your goal.

Don't worry, it's not your fault it fails.

In fact, most pet keepers have a hard time administering drugs to their pets.

In order to give a medicine to their pet, they have to resort to various, often very sophisticated, tricks.

And even so, dogs and kittens rarely take tablets without opposition.

Later in the text, let's look at the various ways in which we can administer drugs to our animals.

How to give your dog a tablet?

How to give your dog a tablet?
  • "Meatball " method.
    This is one of the most common ways of giving tablets to dogs, either by wrapping the medicine in a treat or by putting it in a piece of meat.
    If you've never used this method before, give your dog the treat first.
    Observe how it is eaten.
    If the pooch has a tendency to chew and chew bites, it can be troublesome when smuggling in tasteless, large and aromatic capsules or tablets.
    Our delinquent will surely find out that there is something wrong inside and unceremoniously spit out the medicine.
    Such a "blurred" tablet is rarely reusable.
    If it doesn't work out at first, don't be discouraged and try a variety of snacks.
    It can be a piece of sausage, cheese, pate.
    It is important that the pooch eats.
  • Method "in eating ".
    You can try to crush the tablet and put it in a bowl of food (e.g. fragrant favorite patty or canned food).
    Many dogs eat the smuggled medicine without any problems.
    The downside to this method is that the portion of food in which you have hidden the drug must be completely eaten.
    Only then can you be sure that the pet has taken the full dose of the drug.
    The second disadvantage is the fact that the whole mass of preparations, after crushing, has an unpleasant taste that spoils the palatability of the meal.
    As a result, not only will your dog refuse the medication, but he may also become discouraged from his favorite food.
  • Butter method.
    It's an idea borrowed from one of my clients who had really huge problems with her York.
    It consists in crushing the tablet into a fine powder (previously consulted with a doctor), which then is mixed with a little butter.
    From this mixture, he forms a tiny ball and puts it in the refrigerator for several dozen minutes for the ball to solidify.
    Then he gives it to the dog as a treat.
    It is surprising that the former belligerent Yorkie did not think of taking any "foreign bodies ", and now eats the delicacy with appetite.
    However, you should be very careful with butter, so I only mention this method in situations where other methods fail and there are no contraindications for serving fat.
    Another friend of the bulldog's caretaker told me that only maple syrup works for her bitch.
    She wraps the tablet in syrup and gives it to the dog in this form.
    However, be careful with these methods and always consult your veterinarian.
    Other variations of this method are the use of peanut butter, cream cheese, cheese, yoghurt.
    Everything depends on the tastes of your client.
  • Another solution, especially dedicated to animals motivated by food, is to make a fuss about the meal.
    First, offer a small, delicious snack that your pet will swallow almost without chewing.
    Then hide the pill in the second or third portion of the treat, and then - before the dog even realizes what's going on - show him that you have more of these benefits.
    The play can become more intense if you start tossing the delicacies.
    The excited animal will swallow treats on the fly, so if you hide a pill in one of them, the hope is that the dog will not even notice it.
  • Dogs that are taught to take treats during training, walks, etc. may not realize that you just rewarded him with a delicacy with an insert.
  • Method "for competition ".
    Sometimes it works brilliantly in fussy eaters.
    All you need to do is offer food or a delicacy to two pets at the same time, and your pet - most likely on the basis of friendly competition - will eat a delicacy with an insert faster and without unnecessary thinking.
  • One of my clients brilliantly "cheated" her dog.
    She knew that when preparing meals, her pet always accompanied her, waiting for something tasty to fall off the kitchen table.
    Often times, the animal actually caught an extra piece of meat.
    The clever babysitter used her pet's greed and hid the pill in a small piece of veal.
    "Accidentally," she dropped the delicacy on the floor, pretending she hadn't even noticed it.
    The dog immediately found its prey and swallowed without thinking.
    According to the babysitter's account, he hadn't even noticed there was a pill inside.
  • However, in a situation where previous experience has taught you that it is not possible for your pet to take the pill after goodness, ask your veterinarian to demonstrate in the office the best way to apply drugs.
    I will suggest briefly how to use the "force " method:

    • if you are right-handed, hold the medicine in your right hand between your thumb and forefinger; if you have better left hand control, give the tablet with it,
    • grab the muzzle of the dog with your left hand from above in such a way that the dog's jaw is between your thumb and middle finger; the fingers should be approximately just behind the fangs; in the case of short-nosed dogs, use a cat grip (more on that later),
    • tilt the dog's head back while gently pressing its upper lips into the mouth; this is a safety catch - if the dog tries to clench its jaws, it will bite its lips; this will save you from being bitten and at the same time give you a few seconds to deposit the tablet,
    • use the middle finger of the right hand to tilt the lower jaw down to open the mouth; keep your finger over the incisors, absolutely not over the fangs!
    • place the capsule or tablet on the tongue as far as possible and immediately close the dog's mouth while gently tapping it on the nose; this maneuver will encourage him to swallow the medicine,
    • if he doesn't want to do so, keep his mouth closed all the time while gently massaging his neck,
    • There are also special applicators for the administration of tablets, thanks to which you do not have to put your fingers in the dog's mouth, but if you are concerned that your dog may bite you, do not even try to force him medication - talk to your doctor about other forms of treatment.
  • If you have trouble giving tablets or capsules, ask your doctor if you can dissolve them in a little liquid.
    Some drugs can be dissolved without any problems, but there are also those that lose their properties when administered in this way.
    However, remember - the application may actually be easier in this form at first, but often the taste is definitely unbearable and the dog struggles even more.
  • Administering liquid medications.
    They are administered to the space between the lip and teeth.
    Medicines must never be injected directly into the throat as this may cause the dog to choke and have serious consequences such as. aspiration pneumonia.
    Many drugs of this type already have original applicators with which the appropriate amount of the drug is measured and administered directly into the mouth.
    Others can be given with a syringe or dropper.
    Gently tilt one corner of the mouth without opening the mouth.
    The syringe is inserted into the pocket and the medicine is administered.
    Try to insert the tip of the applicator or syringe into the back of the mouth, roughly up to the molars.
    Thanks to this, in the event of a dog jerking off, the loss of the drug will be smaller and it will be more difficult for him to spit the liquid out.
    During administration, the neck should be caressed to encourage swallowing.
    Never tilt your dog's head back when administering liquid medication.
  • Also, never try to forcefully administer drugs to dogs with soreness or injuries to the neck or mouth.
    This will not only cause unnecessary suffering, but also discourage the person from taking medication.
  • Administration of drugs in the form of injection.
    All types of injections should be performed by qualified personnel in the clinic or veterinary office.
    However, exceptions are also found here, for example in the administration of insulin to diabetic patients.
    As a rule, caregivers of sick animals are instructed by veterinarians how and how often to administer the drug.

Remember, all methods of smuggling drugs with food are allowed only after approval by a veterinarian.

While still in the office, ask about the possibility of mixing medicine with food.

How to give your cat a pill?

First, talk to your doctor about the most optimal form of drug administration.

Is it really necessary to use tablets??

Maybe there are some replacements that are easier to apply?

Tell your doctor about your doubts and ask for a demonstration in the office.

Let him show you how he holds the kitten, how he gives the drugs, let him reveal a few tricks to help you smuggle in the tasteless medicine.

Then try to repeat the steps shown by the vet on your own, while still in the office.

Remember, however, that even if the cat at the clinic takes the drug without hesitation, it is possible that you will not be able to repeat this feat.

At home, animals feel more confident and more resolutely refuse to swallow tablets.

Cats are extremely smart and learn very quickly.

It may be that while the medicine is being given, your cat will disappear - it will just hide somewhere in the house and not come out until it is safe.

So be prepared for these types of situations and make a contingency plan ahead of time.

Giving medications to cats can be extremely difficult for several reasons.

Their outstanding assertiveness, individuality and the belief that everything that "forcibly" can be life-threatening, combined with physical features such as speed, agility, equipment with certain types of cutting and pricking elements (claws, fangs) and a small area , useful for holding, make the application of the drug to the cat comparable to obtaining K2 in the winter.

However, the devil is not so scary, because many caregivers manage to successfully administer drugs to their purring charges.

Let's see what stratagems they resort to.

  • Administration of drugs with food (provided that the preparation can be administered in this form).
    It can be more difficult with cats to smuggle a pill into their food, because if they only sense something foreign in the food, they can forgo the meal altogether.
    Although most cat pills are small (so they are easier to hide in food), most cats eat food around the pill, leaving the latter intact.
    Therefore, it is a good idea to bring a bowl of food a few hours before the scheduled administration of the medication.
    Perhaps a hungry kitten will not care about the presence of one tiny pill and will swallow it along with dinner.
    After the meal is over, check the bowl carefully, whether you have fallen victim to the intrigue by trying to deceive the cat.
    Vigilance in this case is very important as failure to do so may result in skipping a dose.
  • Perhaps the "meatball" method will work here, that is, wrapping a pastille in your favorite delicacy.
    But here too we may encounter some problems.
    Most cats chew each bite carefully - there is a high risk that they will spit out the pill.
    However, it's always worth a try.
    Prepare a few balls with your kitten's favorite food and put a lozenge in one of them.
    Start by feeding your cat meatballs without any liner.
    The second or third time, give the one with the contents of the drug, and then immediately put the next one under his nose, this time "clean ".
    This should remove the unpleasant sensation of eating the drug and, in addition, avoid the association of disgust with this delicacy.
  • Try to find in the treats intended for serving tablets.
    The "Pill pockets " series works great with really picky and perceptive cats, but the problem may be with the availability of some of them in Poland.
    However, it is worth the search, perhaps stores will be able to bring this type of delicacy to order.
    They are extremely practical because they have a special pocket or hole in which the pill is placed.
    In addition, their sticky properties make the lozenge stick firmly to the treat, making it more difficult for the cat to separate it from it. Another advantage is the fact that these treats smell very attractive, so there is a good chance that the cat will not pay attention to the small insert in the form of a medicine.
  • Try not to give tablets with food that your cat usually eats.
    If something goes wrong and the pet finds out that you are cheating on him, he will not only lose trust in you, but will also no longer want to eat his food.
    Yes, just in case you ever try to put something in it again.
  • If the medicine has to be administered on an empty stomach, or if you have failed to smuggle the pill in food, you will have to put it in the cat's mouth in such a way that it does not spit it out.
    It is quite a project, but here too, there are a few ways.
    However, before you start this backbreaking activity, prepare yourself a medicine, an applicator and a towel.

    • Wrap the kitten in a towel, paying special attention to covering the paws thoroughly.
      In principle, only the head should protrude from such a roll.
    • Place your left hand on the cat's head in such a way that your fingers embrace its skull from the back.
    • Place the index finger and thumb of your right hand in the corner of the cat's mouth (avoid the teeth!) and gently press downward to open the mouth. If the feline refuses to open it, use the other hand to gently push the cat's lower jaw down.
      It is important to keep the cat's lips between the fingers and teeth.
      The animal will feel it clenching its teeth on its own lips and gently open its mouth to avoid self-biting.
    • When giving a tablet, you need to open the mouth wide, in the case of liquid medications it is enough to open it slightly.
    • Sometimes it is necessary to use measures of direct coercion.
      When the animal defends itself, firmly but gently grasp the fold of skin just behind the head on the back of the neck.
      Most cats kept in this way will freeze for a while, so you will have time to administer the drug.
      However, remember not to lift the cat this way.
      It should stand or sit on a stable surface (table top, floor etc.).
      Another way to tame a escaping delinquent is to use a harness or harness (not a collar!).
      In this way, you hold the cat in place in a safe way, while also allowing the possibility of lifting the torso slightly.
  • Use of a lozenge applicator.
    • Place the tip of the applicator around the back of the tongue (at the base) and quickly dispense the medication.
      Be careful, you won't have time to think.
      The cat will fight and you have to pull out the tablet dispenser as soon as possible. However, this is only half the battle.
    • Now you need to keep the cat's mouth closed long enough to be sure that he has swallowed the pill.
      You can gently massage your throat during this time.
    • It is also a good idea to give a few milliliters of water with a syringe into the cat's cheek (the space between the upper lip and teeth).
      This will make it easier for you to swallow the medicine.
    • Remember, don't inject fluids directly into your throat!
      Otherwise, the animal may choke and may cause more serious complications (e.g. aspiration pneumonia).
    • If you are giving any fluids by mouth, never tilt your cat's head back.
  • Manual placement of the tablet on the tongue.
    • It is quite difficult considering the size of the cat's face.
      The method of inserting the tablet is similar to using the applicator, except that here you must use your fingers.
    • Hold the pill in your dominant hand between the tip of your thumb and the tip of your middle finger (in a pincer-like grip).
    • The tip of the index finger of the same hand put pressure on the cat's lower jaw in the place between the fangs.
      By pressing it gently you will open the mouth.
    • Now drop the pill straight into the cat's mouth.
      Try to bring it to the base of your tongue.
      If you place it far enough, the tongue movements will push it further down the throat, allowing it to be swallowed.
    • If the tablet lands close to the teeth, keep the cat's mouth open all the time and use your middle finger to gently push it further.
    • As soon as the medicine goes where it should be, let the cat close its mouth and swallow the medicine.
    • If you are unsure, keep the cat's mouth closed for a moment.
    • Blow gently into the pet's nostrils or hit the nose with the fingertips - this will trigger the swallowing reflex.
    • If the tablet has been swallowed successfully, you can give a small amount of water to the cheek - this will provoke swallowing, and additionally will "rinse " the esophagus after the drug (it happens that large capsules get stuck on their way to the stomach; then the cat may vomit the drug after a few minutes).
    • Let go of the cat's head and check that he hasn't spat out the medicine.
    • Be prepared to repeat the entire procedure.

Reward your cat for cooperation each time you use the medicine.

Even if it leaves a lot to be desired, make the kitten feel that you are satisfied with him and that he feels safe in your presence.

It is very easy for cats to lose their trust when compulsorily administering medication, so be prepared to compensate for any stresses associated with such activities.

In a situation where none of the above methods works, you can resort to crushing the tablet (if there are no contraindications), dissolving it in a small volume of water (approx. 2-5 ml) and use a syringe directly into the mouth.

Be warned, however, cats in such situations are incredibly "foaming" - such foamy saliva flowing out of a cat's mouth takes a lot of medicine with it, increasing its losses.

Always ask your doctor if a medication can be crushed and dissolved.

Don't do this if you are unsure.

If e.g. you are giving your cat a sustained-release medication, crushing the tablet will lose this property and may lead to an overdose.

Finally, a method that surprised me in its simplicity:

Well, I was giving my picky cat capsules with liquid contents.

First, I squeezed the capsule into food and served the female cat in this form.

She ate tasteless several times, but then refused to eat.

Then came the period of forced pressing the preparation in the form of "dopyszczna ".

I didn't like it, but well

this time a day I sacrificed our friendship and for a moment I became the worst possible monster, applying a nasty preparation to the poor girl.

But also in this case the cat's patience was exhausted.

She made me clear and very firmly that she would no longer tolerate this type of behavior.

On the next try, with great fury, she knocked the capsule out of my hand, ominously watching my reaction.

Well there was to be done

I gave up on hitting the drug.

The cat, in turn, as if nothing had happened, approached the medicine lying on the floor and ostentatiously ate it whole in front of my eyes.


As you can see, some of the simplest and most naive methods may be the most effective.

Maybe it's worth trying to offer some goodness medicine first, before pulling out heavier artillery?

Regardless of the method that was used, always check (even after a few minutes) if there is an abandoned tablet somewhere nearby.

Cats are incredibly bright and can hide the pill in their cheek until you move away and then spit it out cheekily.

Therefore, for a while after application, observe the furry's behavior, give him an extra treat, and only when you are sure that the tablet has been swallowed, allow the animal to move away.

Administering liquid medications

For starters, try just offering your pet a liquid medicine.

Medicines intended for cats are currently (mostly) flavored, so there is a chance that your kitten will adopt the specificity without too much urgency on your part.

Many cats will lick fragrant drugs from their fingers or even their own paws.

Furry keepers often deal with the more demanding by spreading a portion of the drug (fortunately, it is usually small) on the paw of their pet.

The kitten - being born clean - strives to quickly get rid of the sticky substance from its fur by simply licking it.

However, this method is reserved for patients who groom themselves (in some severe illnesses, cats neglect the daily toilet and do not clean themselves).

Otherwise, this method will be useless and will only stick and stain your hair.

  • Make sure the drug can be administered with food and mix the liquid dose with half a serving of your normal food.
    After eating everything, refill the bowl with the rest of the food.
  • In the absence of acceptance and cooperation on the part of the kitten, give him a previously prepared liquid into the cheek pocket, between the upper lip and teeth.
  • Do not tilt the animal's head backwards.
  • While slightly tilting the lip slightly, gently place the syringe in the mouth, with the tip of the syringe near the molars.
  • Now, deposit the drug slowly.
  • Watch if the cat swallows.
  • Try to synchronize the injection of the fluid with your swallowing rhythm.
  • Do not give too much medicine at once, so as not to overfill your cat's mouth with liquid. This may cause choking. Take frequent breaks so that your cat can swallow comfortably and evenly.

And what if, despite various attempts to smuggle the drug, the animal will not accept it for any treasures in the world??

What to do then?

  • Try to arrange help for yourself.
    Sometimes it is enough to hold the pet tighter for a few seconds, and then you can concentrate only on placing the lozenge on the tongue.
  • Never, under any circumstances, neither you nor your helper run the risk of injury.
    If you see a dog or cat becoming aggressive, showing its teeth, scratching and warning, give up the fight.
    In addition to severe injuries that you probably won't avoid, something much worse will happen to you - loss of trust and distance from your pet.
    Even if you get your way today, you will have no chance of success tomorrow.
  • Call your doctor and ask what to do.
    Sometimes you can replace the form of administration with a different one that is less stressful for your pet.
    It can be a liquid medicine in the form of an applicator, powder, or transdermal patches or gels.
  • Also consider calling professionals.
    Some clinics organize daily outpatient assistance in the form of a technician or assistant.

Types of drugs for animals

Types of drugs for animals

Various groups of drugs are used in the treatment of animals.

Now let's take a look at what kinds of medications are used in animal healing.


These are drugs that inhibit the growth of microorganisms (bacteriostatic antibiotics) or destroy sensitive bacteria (bactericidal antibiotics).

They are used in the treatment of all bacterial infections.

Unfortunately, they will not deal with viruses, but are often prescribed for viral diseases to protect against possible secondary bacterial infections that viruses often accompany.

Examples of antibiotics are:

  • amoxicillin,
  • penicillin,
  • cephalosporin,
  • enrofloxacin.

Antifungal drugs

Antifungal drugs are used in infections caused by fungi.

Common drugs in this group include:

  • nystatin,
  • natamycin,
  • clotrimazole,
  • ketoconazole,
  • griseofulvin and others.

Antiviral drugs

In the fight against viruses in veterinary medicine, immunoprophylaxis is the leader, but the use of vaccines is not always possible.

The use of antiviral drugs is still quite limited in animals.

These drugs have a narrow margin of safety, which means that they can be harmful to the body's cells.

Examples of antiviral drugs include:

  • idoxuridine,
  • trifluridine,
  • acyclovir,
  • zidovudine.

Antiparasitic drugs

They are used both to combat and prevent infestations by internal and external parasites.

Since the problem of parasitosis affects virtually every animal (at different stages of its life), these drugs are one of the most commonly used in veterinary medicine.

Anthelmintics work against different types of internal and / or external parasites, such as:

  • intestinal parasites,
  • fleas,
  • ticks, etc.

These include, among others:

  • albendazole,
  • fenbendazole,
  • febantel,
  • pyrantel,
  • levamisole,
  • ivermectin,
  • abamectin,
  • doramectin,
  • milbemycin oxime,
  • praziquantel,
  • permethrin,
  • fipronil and many others.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

This is a group of drugs that are often used in veterinary medicine (and sometimes even overused).

They have an effect:

  • lowering the fever,
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • painkillers.

Examples of drugs from this group are:

  • meloxicam,
  • carprofen,
  • deracoxib,
  • firocoxib.

Opioid painkillers

They are morphine-like agents with a strong analgesic effect.

They do not have anti-inflammatory effects.

The most common agents used in this group are:

  • butorphanol,
  • oxycodone,
  • hydromorphone,
  • fentanyl,
  • meperidine.

As they are addictive substances, the trade in these drugs is strictly controlled.


They are widely used.

These are drugs with a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

They are often used in allergic and anaphylactic conditions.

Examples of drugs include:

  • prednisone,
  • prednisolone,
  • dexamethasone.


Used in situations where there is a need to calm the animal.

They are sometimes administered in connection with a behavioral disturbance.

Examples of sedative drugs:

  • diazepam,
  • acepromazine,
  • xylazine,
  • midazolam.


They are used to treat endocrine disorders.

Examples are:

  • insulin,
  • left-thyroxine.

Cardiac drugs

Cardiac drugs are used in cardiac disorders

These include, among others:

  • pimobendan,
  • atenolol,
  • digoxin,
  • diltiazem.

Drugs used in diseases of the respiratory system

These include measures such as:

  • bronchodilators, e.g.:
    • aminophylline,
    • theophylline,
  • antitussive preparations, e.g.:
    • codeine,
    • dextromethorphan,
  • expectorants like herbal syrups,
  • mucolytic drugs, e.g. ambroxol.

Diuretic drugs

Diuretics are most often used to treat hypertension in animals, but also to reduce edema associated with heart failure, kidney or liver disease.

The most common are:

  • furosemide,
  • spironolactone,
  • hydrochlorothiazide.

Antiemetic drugs

Antiemetics are used mainly in the treatment of long-term vomiting (e.g. with uremia or the use of oncological drugs).

These include, among others:

  • diphenhydramine,
  • dimenhydrinate,
  • metoclopramide,
  • maropitant and others.

Medicines that inhibit the secretion of gastric acid

They are used in the prevention and treatment of inflammation and stomach ulcers.

Often used are:

  • ranitidine,
  • cimetidine,
  • omeprazole,
  • pantoprazole.


Laxatives are used mainly in situations of constipation and problems with defecation, but also as an aid in poisoning.

Mild remedies from this group include e.g.:

  • lactulose,
  • paraffin oil.

Antidiarrheal drugs

They are used as an auxiliary in the treatment of inflammation of the gastrointestinal mucosa.

Often used are:

  • activated charcoal,
  • kaolin clay,
  • diosmectin,
  • loperamide.

Vascular drugs

Vascular drugs, i.e. drugs that affect blood pressure (including diuretics) or cause changes in blood flow to specific tissues or organs.

A large group of vascular drugs are angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, e.g.:

  • enalapril,
  • benazepril,
  • captopril.


Antihistamines to suppress symptoms associated with an allergy, such as:

  • hives,
  • itching,
  • swelling or inflammation of the nasal mucosa and conjunctiva of allergic background.

Some are used to combat the symptoms of motion sickness.

These include, among others:

  • diphenhydramine,
  • clemastine,
  • promethazine,
  • dimenhydrinate and others.

Immunostimulating drugs

They are used:

  • in all states of weakened immunity,
  • in the course of viral infections,
  • auxiliary in the treatment of certain diseases (eg. feline leukemia (FIP),
  • prophylactically - before anticipated stress or exposure to infection (e.g. before exhibitions, staying in a hotel, etc.).

These include, among others:

  • omega interferon,
  • levamisole,
  • isoprosine and others.

Antineoplastic drugs

In veterinary medicine, oncology is a rapidly developing field.

Animals are also treated with the so-called. chemistry.

The drugs that are often present in chemotherapeutic protocols include:

  • vincristine,
  • cisplatin,
  • doxorubicin,
  • dacarbazine,
  • bleomycin,
  • asparaginase,
  • cyclophosphamide.

In addition to the above-mentioned large groups of medicaments, the following are also used:

  • various types of dietary supplements:
    • vitamins,
    • minerals,
    • unsaturated fatty acids,
  • drugs that support the functioning of various organs, e.g.:
    • liver,
    • kidney,
    • joints,
  • drugs that improve the functioning of the skin and much more.

The list of drugs used in veterinary medicine is very long, and I have only mentioned the most commonly used ones here.

The principle used in veterinary treatment is to use preparations registered for a specific species of animals in the first place.

But what if there is no such drug or it is unavailable?

Then we often use drugs intended for people.

Human drugs administered to animals

Human drugs administered to animals

Veterinarians who want to treat animals with drugs registered only for a given species often face a huge problem related to the lack of availability of a specific specimen.

Fortunately, legislators give us a privilege that allows the use of a drug that is not approved for this animal.

So we can use human medications for dogs and cats, but we also have the option of using preparations for livestock in pets.

However, this possibility is subject to certain limitations.


In animal medicine, veterinarians first reach for drugs that are registered for a specific species.

For example, if your dog has bronchitis, your veterinarian is required to use an antibiotic that is intended for dogs.

Why so?

There is a reasonable justification for this.

Well, every drug that is marketed is subject to certain strict rules that must be followed in order for such a product to be effective and have the lowest possible toxicity (each drug can be harmful, the dose determines whether the drug will be a panacea or a poison).

Therefore, the manufacturer of a given preparation determines:

  • how the medicine should be used,
  • for which species (or species) of animals it is intended and registered,
  • what dose and route of administration should be used,
  • in the case of animals intended for food, what is the withdrawal period of the given drug (i.e. the minimum period during which animals must not be slaughtered for human consumption or eat eggs from laying hens because there are still drug residues in the tissues).

The manufacturer defined these indications on the basis of research on the drug, even before it was introduced to the market, and only in this area (included in the product registration) does it ensure its effectiveness.

In other words, it is not known how a drug that is approved for dogs will affect cats, for example.

The manufacturer in the registration specification clearly defines who the drug is for and is responsible only in this regard.

But what if the disease requires the administration of a drug that is used in other species of animals and is not on the "canine" list??

Or what if there are no veterinary preparations at all that could help, and they are available in human medicine?

In such cases, veterinarians must follow the guidelines contained in the Regulation of the Minister of Health of November 27, 2008. "On the procedure for the use of medicinal products when there is no appropriate veterinary medicinal product authorized for a given animal species ".

The rules contained in this regulation clearly define how the veterinarian should select drugs, and due to some gradation of possibilities, they have been briefly called "cascade ".

The use of drugs should be strictly selected according to the scoring, you cannot skip from point 1 to 3 if previous options are available.

The veterinarian introduces drugs outside registration only at his own risk, after a thorough examination of the animal and - as the legislator says - only in a situation where it is impossible to avoid suffering without this drug.

He must also inform the animal carer of this course of treatment and possible side effects.

  1. In the first instance, a veterinary medicine, authorized and registered for this species, should be used to treat a given animal species.
  2. If there is no veterinary medicine intended for a given animal species (e.g. dogs), but a drug is available that is licensed for other species (e.g. cattle or pigs) or of the same species but with different indications, the veterinarian may use it.
  3. If there is still no such product, the veterinarian has two options:
    • or it can use a human drug,
    • or uses a drug that is intended for this or other animal species, but is not registered in Poland, but in other European Union countries or in a member state of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
  4. If the drug is still not found, the veterinarian may issue a prescription, on the basis of which a prescription product will be prepared in the pharmacy.

It is clear from this that a veterinarian cannot, on a whim, use human medicines until he has exhausted other options.

Not only that, even if he reaches for a given preparation, registered for humans, he must maintain a safe dosage for animals (it is not included in the human leaflet), and he is also obliged to inform the animal's guardian about the use of human drugs, their side effects, effects and any other aspects of using this type of medication.

The handler must know that his or her dog or cat is not receiving veterinary medicine.

Human medicines, however, have made their way into veterinary medicine for good and it is really difficult to imagine the development of veterinary medicine without their participation.

So what influences the widespread use of human drugs in animals?

Advantages of using human drugs


This issue cannot be ignored.

Indeed, the price of human drugs is often much lower than typically veterinary drugs.

It is understandable - the costs of research at the stage of production and marketing authorization, special amenities such as flavoring drugs or adding flavors must increase the cost of the final product.

And human drugs, available at the pharmacy, even often without reimbursement they are cheaper.

However, this is only one side of the coin.

When buying a veterinary medicine, we are aware that it is intended for a specific animal species and that the manufacturer bears full responsibility for the product.

We do not have this peace of mind with the use of human drugs.

Wide availability

Often in the treatment of animals, we encounter certain blockages related to the availability of a given preparation.

We know that this particular drug will best help a sick animal, but:

  • or it is not available in Poland,
  • or its price (as a veterinary product) is cosmically high.

Then, doctors often use human substitutes, which can be purchased at any pharmacy.

Predictability of operation

Most human drugs interact with the animal body in much the same way as they do with humans.

Often, human drugs are tested in animals for a long time before they are allowed to be marketed, and these tests are even more stringent in terms of safety and efficacy than can be the case when testing strictly veterinary drugs.

Often the side effects and drug interactions that are found in humans overlap with those in animals.

As a result, veterinarians can to some extent anticipate the occurrence of undesirable effects and avoid combinations of interacting active substances.

Disadvantages of using human drugs

Despite the great knowledge of a given drug, there are still areas that make it difficult or impossible to administer these products to animals.

Unfortunately, it is not always correct to assume that the drug will work in a similar way in humans and in dogs or cats.

Well, there are huge differences in the distribution, metabolism, and excretion of many substances, which - not fully understood - may contribute not only to a drastic reduction in the effectiveness of a given drug, but also to increase its toxicity.

The dosage of certain groups of drugs, their route of administration, interactions with other drugs, and indications for use are often divergent.

These differences are present not only between humans and animals, but also between animals of different species (e.g. dogs and cats).

For example - one of the common opioid drugs used in medicine - tramadol, is a strong pain reliever drug that is quite effective.

In dogs, in turn, its effectiveness it is not entirely predictable.

Metabolism tramadol in this species it is still not fully studied, and liver enzymes - colloquially speaking - cope with this drug in different ways.

So you can meet a whole range of effectiveness - from a satisfactory analgesic effect, through weak action, and finally no effect in the form of pain relief.

Cats respond better to this drug in this regard.

Over-the-counter medications (OTC)

There is a whole pool of drugs and supplements that are available in pharmacies and grocery stores, cosmetics and even household goods that can be bought over the counter.

These are the so-called. OTC drugs (from the English Over The Counter).

This is probably one of the most dangerous traps that are unknowingly set for animal keepers.

Because can such a medicine, which is available at the checkout in a cosmetic store, harm a pet??

Well maybe.

And in many cases it will hurt.

It is extremely important to be aware of the risks associated with administering these drugs to pets.

Most of them are not registered for animals, and the safety of a large part of them has never been tested on dogs or cats.

The threat posed by the exposure of our patients (whether consciously or unconsciously) to this type of medication is enormous.

You must not, under any circumstances, administer such drugs to a dog or cat without first consulting a veterinarian.

Read on to learn about the catastrophic consequences of administering drugs not intended for them to animals.

Poisoning with human drugs

Poisoning with human drugs

Despite the growing awareness of animal keepers, drug poisoning is still used in humans they happen often.

Unfortunately, in many cases these medications have been administered by a caregiver to relieve the observed symptoms.

There is still a lingering view that if aspirin if paracetamol they bring me relief from pain or colds, they will also help my cat or dog.

Nothing could be more wrong.

Giving an innocent apap can be fatal for your pet.

However, not always poisoning with human preparations occurs with the direct action of the caregiver.

Lots of dogs and cats have access to drug storage (or organize such access, especially in the absence of a caregiver), and the more rustling the packaging, the more attractive it seems.

In such situations, the animal usually does not stop at one lozenge and it often happens that the terrified caregiver finds an empty box of his medicines.

It is very, very dangerous for animals.

How to avoid drug poisoning?

  • Keep the drugs out of the reach of the quadrupeds.
    Easy in theory, worse with practice.
    Well, many cats (and dogs as well) have mastered opening all closed cabinets, drawers or boxes.
    They will not rest until they have completed their venture.
    Take this into account and try to prevent your pets from doing this.
    Maybe a key lock will solve the problem?
  • It happens that in a hurry we leave the drugs somewhere on the table top or on the cupboard.
    And the bored animal is just waiting to see what it tastes like.
    Never, ever leave any medications on top.
    Make a habit of putting them back, and treat your ward as a three-year-old child who is curious about the world.
  • Do not give any human medications on your own until you have consulted your veterinarian.
    It is very important.
    Even medical doctors make this common mistake and administer human drugs to their pets.
    I warn you:
    not every substance that is well tolerated by humans and even by children will work for your pet.
    Before giving him something from your own medicine cabinet, check with your veterinarian beforehand.
  • For animals at higher risk, e.g. with kidney failure, liver disease, diabetes, and older people, before you decide to administer human drugs, do blood tests (morphological and biochemical tests) on your pet.
    This will give you important information whether there is really any concern in the use of human drugs.

Human drugs most often causing poisoning

The most commonly used medications in humans that are unsafe for animals to consume include:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

It is not without reason that they are at the top of the list of drugs dangerous to animals.

Drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, ketoprofen, piroxicam are commonly used drugs, most of them available over the counter, and mainly used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and reduce fever.

They are included in the standard equipment of almost every home first aid kit.

They are safe for humans, but in animals even one or two doses can lead to severe poisoning, and in more sensitive animals, even to death.

For example, the symptoms of poisoning in a dog weighing approx. 25 kg may appear after ingestion 1 aspirin tablet 3 times a day, and at the cat already ingestion of 1/2 tablet may lead to poisoning.

Ibuprofen and indomethacin are extremely toxic and under no circumstances should they be given to pets.

Most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are absorbed fairly quickly from the gastrointestinal tract after ingestion, with maximum blood concentration reached within 3 hours.

Most of the harmful effects that are observed in animals after ingestion of NSAIDs are due to their inhibitory effect on the production of prostaglandins.

A typical symptom of an aspirin overdose is irritation of the stomach lining, which may lead to ulceration, resulting in bleeding and bloody vomiting.

A rarer, but equally dangerous effect of NSAIDs is a decrease in blood flow through the kidneys, which (especially in the presence of low blood pressure) can quickly damage the kidneys.

Drugs of this group also interfere with the function of platelets, can cause bone marrow suppression, leading to anemia (especially in cats), and also have a damaging effect on the liver, leading to its toxic inflammation.

As a result, in our "poisoned" quadrupeds, we observe, among others:

  • gastrointestinal complaints, such as:
    • lack of appetite,
    • vomiting (sometimes with blood),
    • abdominal soreness,
    • diarrhea,
    • bloody stools;
  • it is possible to increase body temperature, apathy;
  • acid-base imbalance; respiratory alkalosis develops initially, followed by metabolic acidosis;
  • dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, fluid and sodium retention, hyperkalemia, azotaemia;
  • the above disorders can lead to the development of acute renal failure;
  • if there is a perforation of the gastrointestinal wall (most often the stomach), peritonitis appears;
  • impaired bone marrow function and the resulting:
    • anemia,
    • prolongation of the clotting time,
    • decrease in the number of blood platelets,
    • decrease in the number of leukocytes,
    • possible methemoglobinemia;
  • toxic background hepatitis, possible jaundice;
  • neurological disorders such as:
    • behavioral changes,
    • apathy,
    • seizures,
    • coma;
  • it happens that the administration of the drug causes a severe generalized allergic reaction;
  • if untreated, symptoms worsen and may lead to coma and death.

Impressive truth?

And this is what gives an innocent pill

Is it possible to save the animal?

Yes, but the action should be very quick.

Management of poisoning with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs consists in:

  1. Induction of vomiting and / or gastric lavage.
    In the case of aspirin, these activities - according to the literature data - may be effective up to several hours after ingestion, because this drug remains undissolved in the stomach for a long time and remains in it in the form of deposits.
  2. After induction of vomiting and gastric lavage, activated charcoal is administered at a dose of 2 g / kg m.c., as well as laxatives every 4-6 hours.
  3. Fluids and electrolytes are administered intravenously in dehydrated animals, with disturbances of water-electrolyte and acid-base balance.
  4. To alkalinize the urine, bicarbonates are used at a dose of 1 mEq / kg (thus increasing the excretion of salicylates with the urine).
  5. In critical situations, a blood transfusion may be required.
  6. In gastric ulceration, the following are most often used:
    • sucralfate (0.5 -1 g / 30 kg m.c. orally 4 times a day),
    • ranitidine (0.5-2.0 mg / kg m.c. 3 times per day),
    • cimetidine (5 mg / kg m.c. subcutaneously, intravenously or orally 4 times a day),
    • misoprostol (2-5 μg / kg m.c. orally) 3 times a day,
    • famotidine (0.5-1 mg / kg m.c. intravenously 2 times a day),
    • omeprazole (0.7 mg / kg m.c. orally once a day).

In case of poisoning with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, further monitoring is required after the patient's condition has stabilized:

  • morphology,
  • electrolyte concentration,
  • liver enzyme levels,
  • urea and creatinine.

If anemia persists, it may indicate bone marrow suppression, which significantly worsens the prognosis.

So if your dog or cat has ingested NSAIDs, take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Acetaminophen (Paracetamol)

One of the most common over-the-counter painkillers and very safe for humans (including young children).

The same cannot be said for animals, especially cats.

One standard tablet, eaten by a kitten, can lead to severe damage to red blood cells.

In dogs, acetaminophen causes severe liver damage, and in higher doses, too damage to erythrocytes.

Poisoning in animals most often results from the fact that an uninformed handler who wants to help the animal gives him a drug, hoping that it will reduce the fever or relieve pain.

It also happens that the animal itself swallows the medicine within its reach.

In such situations, severe overdosage usually occurs, as animals (especially dogs) rarely finish on one tablet.

Unfortunately, poisoning can occur both after a single consumption paracetamol, as well as with repeated exposures to lower doses.

Acetaminophen is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, reaching high blood levels already in less than one hour.

Cats are the most susceptible to poisoning, as the consumption of just one tablet may lead to serious poisoning.

It is believed that clinical signs of intoxication in this species (even with fatal outcome) may appear after ingestion of a dose of paracetamol 10 mg / kg.

Most often, however, clinically manifest poisoning occurs at higher doses (> 50 mg / kg).

In dogs, symptoms usually appear as soon as the dose is exceeded 600 mg / kg, although there were situations where poisoning took place even after admission 200 mg / kg, and even 100 mg / kg.

The most common dose in human preparations containing acetaminophen this 500 mg.

It is not difficult to calculate that a pooch weighing 5 kg will receive a dose of a substance that can already cause symptoms of poisoning when eating 1 tablet.

Paracetamol initially it is metabolized in the liver to its active form.

It is toxic, but quickly transformed into another, already relatively inert form of the drug.

However, some drug may not "neutralize" this (especially in overdose and in species that are deficient in the converting enzyme) and bind to proteins in liver cells, causing damage and death.

In red blood cells, in turn, iron is oxidized in the hemoglobin molecule, and as a result, it is formed methemoglobin.

Fortunately, this process is reversible, but methaemoglobin is unable to carry oxygen (which is the role of hemoglobin) and tissue hypoxia occurs rapidly.

The clinical signs of paracetamol poisoning in dogs are primarily due to liver damage, in cats, the symptoms associated with methemoglobinemia and severe hemolysis.

Symptoms of poisoning in cats

One of the very serious effects of acetaminophen (especially in cats) is the so-called methemoglobinemia and it is the symptoms associated with it that come to the fore.

  • As this condition causes hypoxia, increased respiratory rate and blue or dark brown mucous membranes are seen.
  • The urine becomes brownish.
  • Sometimes there is swelling of the peripheral parts of the body (face and limbs).
  • The animals are apathetic, they can vomit, they react strongly when palpating the abdomen.
    Sometimes diarrhea also appears.
  • Liver changes are also present in cats, but these are masked by methaemoglobinaemia.
  • Cats are more susceptible to acetaminophen poisoning, so symptoms appear rapidly (within hours of ingestion), are more severe and the clinical condition deteriorates rapidly.

Signs of poisoning in dogs

In dogs, it usually appears jaundice, resulting from toxic hepatitis or her necrosis.

The most common symptoms noticed by the caregiver are

  • vomiting,
  • lack of appetite,
  • soreness when touching the abdomen.
  • Additionally, tachycardia, increased respiratory rate, edema of the peripheral parts of the limbs and the head are present.

Depends on the amount of medication swallowed and its severity methemoglobinemia, dogs can also experience:

  • bruising of the mucous membranes,
  • breathlessness,
  • hematuria.

Dogs develop symptoms later than cats - usually overnight 24-48 hours after taking the drug.

In both species, when blood is collected for laboratory tests, it can be observed that it is dark, lacny, which is characteristic of methaemoglobinaemia.

Treatment management

Treatment management is based on:

  • Provoking vomiting in a situation where the drug was swallowed in time less than 3 hours.
    Only conscious patients should be induced vomiting.
    Failure to do so may result in aspiration of gastric contents into the respiratory tract.
  • Gastric lavage and administration of activated charcoal per dose 2 mg / kg m.c. and laxatives (e.g. Sorbitol).
  • Fortunately, there are specific antidotes for acetaminophen poisoning: S-adenosylmethionine, sodium sulfate and N-acetylcysteine.
    • N-acetylcysteine ​​is a component of known syrups and expectorants that liquefy airway secretions, such as e.g. ACC, Fluimucil, Tussicom and many others.
      The initial dose of N-acetylcysteine ​​is 140 mg / kg m.c., then 70 mg / kg m.c. - the drug is then administered 5-7 times every 6 hours.
      It is usually administered orally in a 5% solution (as long as the animal is not vomiting and has not received activated charcoal beforehand), but it can also be administered intravenously.
    • S-adenosylmethionine (at a dose of 18 mg / kg m.c. by mouth for 1-3 months in dogs and cats) supports the treatment of acute or chronic liver injury.
  • Ascorbic acid at a dose of 30 mg / kg m.c. subcutaneously or orally, helps convert methaemoglobin back into oxyhaemoglobin, so it is often given as an adjunct (especially in cats) 4 times a day for 7 days.
  • Methylene blue in a single dose of 1.5 mg / kg m.c. (intravenously) quickly and effectively eliminates methaemoglobinaemia in cats.
    It is not recommended to repeat this dose as it may worsen methaemoglobinaemia.
  • Cimetidine at a dose of 5 mg / kg m.c. administered intravenously 4 times a day may inhibit the formation of toxic metabolites of paracetamol.
    It should not be used in cats (in vitro studies have shown that administration of cimetidine to cats may increase the production of more toxic metabolites of acetaminophen).
  • Intravenous fluids are required to ensure adequate hydration of the patient and supply the necessary electrolytes.
  • In severe conditions, with advanced haemolysis, blood transfusion should be considered, and in the presence of respiratory failure, oxygen therapy is used.

Subsequently, the degree of methaemoglobinaemia and the levels of liver enzymes should be monitored.

For cats, if a patient survives the first 48 hours, they are usually saved.


Even certain forms of vitamin D can harm your pet.

Active forms vitamin D this ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).

Cholecalciferol is found in very strong rodenticides, but often poisoning is caused by the consumption of drugs used in therapy:

  • osteoporosis,
  • osteomalacia,
  • kidney failure.

When ingested, cholecalciferol is finally converted to vitamin D3, which is expected to raise calcium levels.

Vitamin D3 is 10 times more toxic than vitamin D2, and a single lethal dose for an adult dog 13 mg / kg m.c. (520,000 IU./ kg).

The toxic dose that may cause poisoning symptoms is 2 mg / kg m.c. (80,000 IU / kg m.c.).

Vitamin D is considered to be the so-called. cumulative poison: in the case of an excess or overdose, its effect on the mineral balance is visible only after about 1-2 weeks.

Then it comes to an increase in ionized calcium in the blood, which strongly affects systems:

  • nervous,
  • alimentary,
  • excretory,
  • cardiovascular.

And it is this high level of calcium and its deposition in the tissues that manifests itself in the form of disease symptoms.

And they are very nonspecific and can do the following:

  1. Initially apathy, weakness, drowsiness, lack of appetite.
  2. Then there is vomiting, bloody diarrhea.
    If bloody vomiting or diarrhea occurs, the prognosis is poor.
  3. The caregiver most often reports a disturbingly high amount of water drunk, as well as an increased frequency of urination.
  4. Haemorrhage into the lungs is possible, which is manifested by severe dyspnea in the patient.
  5. There are also constipation, dark feces.
  6. Dehydration is evident on clinical examination.
  7. Nervous system symptoms:
    • muscle tremors,
    • seizures.
  8. Cardiac arrhythmias, bradycardia.
  9. Ultimately, there is shock, dullness, and even death.

As a result of overdose cholecalciferol it comes to acute kidney failure, and often also calcifications within the kidney tubules, bronchi and other soft tissues.

Cats are more susceptible to poisoning than dogs, and in both species it is young animals are at increased risk

Treatment is based on the same principles that apply to the consumption of other toxic substances:

  1. Getting rid of the rest of the toxic substance from the gastrointestinal tract.
    If you have consumed cholecalciferol in the past 3 hours, vomiting is provoked and activated charcoal is administered.
    As a rule, however, it is too late for it, unless the guardian "caught " his ward red-handed.
    Even if you have managed to react successfully early, you should still monitor the level of ionized calcium in the blood every 24-48 hours for the first 6-7 days after consuming cholecalciferol.
  2. Reducing hypercalcemia (because excess calcium is responsible for the clinical condition of the patient).
    In order to lower the level of calcium in the blood serum, the following are used:

    • Calcitonin at a dose of 4-6 units.m./ kg m.c. subcutaneously every 2-3 hours until the blood calcium level is stabilized.
      Its task is to reduce the release of calcium from the bones.
    • Drip infusions of NaCl at a dose of 4-6 ml / kg / hour. - such drips are designed to maintain proper diuresis.
    • Furosemide (dogs: 2-6 mg / kg m.c., cats: 1-4 mg / kg m.c. intravenously every 8-12 hours).
    • Prednisolone (0.5 mg / kg m.c. subcutaneously, intramuscularly or orally every 12 hours).
      It reduces the absorption of calcium from the intestines.
    • Antiemetic drugs (metoclopramide or cerenia).
  3. Providing a proper diet.
    It should contain as little calcium as possible (no milk or dairy products).
  4. Supportive care.
    After stabilizing the patient's condition and normalizing calcium levels, treatment should continue for an even longer time.
    Since cholecalciferol is fat-soluble, it can take a long time to remove residual cholecalciferol - up to several weeks.
    During this time, the following are given:

    • Furosemide at a dose of 2-4 mg / kg m.c. orally every 8-12 hours;
    • Prednisolone at a dose of 0.25 mg / kg m.c. every 12 hours;
    • Calcitonin - its administration is sometimes helpful, but it is often abandoned, especially since side effects may develop in the form of: skin reactions, itching, urticaria, pollakiuria, lack of appetite or vomiting.
    • Blood calcium levels are monitored throughout the treatment period.

The prognosis of cholecalciferol poisoning is good provided that treatment is started promptly.

If high-grade hypercalcemia is present, the prognosis is poor.

Sedatives, antidepressants, hypnotics and anticonvulsants

Sedative medications (e.g. Xanax), antidepressants (e.g. Prozac) or drugs used to combat epileptic seizures (phenobarbital, ingredient Luminal or diazepam, which is a known drug Relanium) are also used in animal medicine, but overdosing may lead to serious poisoning.

Fortunately, poisoning with sedative drugs is less common than with NSAIDs.

Symptoms of overdose with this group of drugs include neurological disorders such as:

  • stupor,
  • trembling,
  • seizures,
  • motor coordination disorders,
  • confusion.

Some drugs, in turn, can paradoxically lead to a significant excitement, which is manifested by:

  • anxiety,
  • nervous,
  • excessive motor activity,
  • often by vocalizing,
  • increased heart rate,
  • rapid breathing,
  • increase in temperature and blood pressure.

Other possible symptoms include:

  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • hypothermia,
  • hypotension.

It also happens that severe poisoning occurs as a result of a curious dog or cat eating more tablets.

This is an extremely dangerous condition that can even lead to the death of the animal.

An immediate visit to the veterinary clinic is imperative.

Benzodiazepines and sleep aids

Benzodiazepines they are used to control seizures and as anti-anxiety drugs in humans and animals.

Perhaps the most common is diazepam, but drugs such as:

  • alprazolam,
  • chlordiazepoxide,
  • lorazepam,
  • clonazepam,
  • oxazepam,
  • thiazolam.

Medicines that humans take to calm down, calm down, reduce anxiety and in insomnia in animals can have the opposite effect.

These include preparations such as:

  • Clonazepamum,
  • Xanax,
  • Apo-Zolpin,
  • Nasen and many more.

About 50% of dogs, those who have consumed this group of drugs show agitation, not sedation.

Symptoms of overdose are:

  • significant drowsiness,
  • motor coordination disorders,
  • respiratory failure.

In cats, after several days of oral consumption diazepam acute (potentially fatal) liver failure may develop.

Cats are generally more susceptible to the adverse effects of this class of drugs.

Treatment of benzodiazepine poisoning is similar to treatment of poisoning with other drugs.

  • If ingestion is fresh and there are no clinical symptoms, vomiting may be induced.
  • In the event of consuming a significant amount of medication, gastric lavage followed by administration of activated charcoal is recommended.
  • The patient should be monitored for the presence of respiratory disorders, the ability to respond to stimuli and the proper blood pressure.
  • In severe conditions, a drug that reverses the effects of benzodiazepines can be administered:
    • flumazenil at a dose of 0.01 mg / kg m.c. by slow infusion in both dogs and cats.


There are several different classes of antidepressants, but overdosing on nearly all of them can lead to development serotonin syndrome.

This term describes the entire set of clinical symptoms that develops as a result of an overdose or repeated consumption of substances that increase the level of free serotonin (such as antidepressants if amphetamines).

The symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • altered mental state of the animal:
    • entanglement,
    • depression or agitation,
    • nervousness,
  • involuntary movements, jerks of the limbs (myoclonus),
  • tremors,
  • diarrhea,
  • vomiting,
  • lack of motor coordination,
  • sudden changes in blood pressure and heart rate,
  • rapid breathing,
  • fever.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

They are one of the most common medications used to treat severe depression in humans.

In veterinary medicine, the following are used, inter alia:

  • sertraline,
  • fluoxetine,
  • paroxetine,
  • fluvoxamine.

They are used to control:

  • aggression,
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder,
  • separation anxiety,
  • itching,
  • misinterpretation of urine in dogs and cats.

Symptoms of overdose with this group of drugs include:

  • pupil dilation,
  • vomiting,
  • lethargy,
  • incoherence of movements,
  • trembling,
  • seizures,
  • hyperactivity,
  • Heart arythmia,
  • vocalization.

Tricyclic antidepressants

In humans, it is used in the treatment of many depressive, neurotic and obsessive states, as well as in the treatment of smoking and other mental and neurological disorders (e.g. helpful in neuropathic pain).

Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, clomipramine if nortriptyline are commonly used psychoactive substances.

In an animal poisoned with them (a slight overdose is enough), they cause excessive stimulation of the central nervous system, manifested by strong excitation and disorientation.

They can also lead to:

  • arrhythmia,
  • hypertension,
  • fever,
  • nystagmus,
  • seizures,
  • metabolic acidosis,
  • urinary retention,
  • dry mouth,
  • dilation of the pupils,
  • constipation.

These symptoms can lead to depression of the central nervous system and the following appear:

  • apathy,
  • lethargy,
  • incoherence of movements,
  • respiratory depression,
  • cyanosis,
  • hypothermia,
  • hypotension,
  • coma.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors

They are mainly used to treat atypical depression in humans, but also, for example, in. Parkinson's disease.

In dogs selegiline it is used in the treatment of Cushing's disease as well as in dementia.

In the case of an overdose of antidepressants, sedatives or hypnotics, animals receive a similar therapy as in the case of poisoning with other drugs.

  1. In the event of recent consumption of drugs, vomiting should be induced (provided that the animal does not show clinical signs of poisoning).
  2. Then, activated charcoal is administered (up to several hours after consumption), followed by the use of laxatives.
  3. Administration may be helpful in epileptic seizures diazepam.
  4. It is necessary to monitor the heart rate and breathing and - if necessary - correct the disturbance.
  5. If serotonin syndrome occurs, it is necessary to treat it:
    • cyproheptadine (as a serotonin antagonist) rectal enema is often used at a dose of 1.1 mg / kg in dogs and 2 mg in cats,
    • acepromazine or chlorpromazine (which also have an anti-serotonin effect) can also be used to control agitation,
    • diazepam is used to control symptoms from the central nervous system (tremors, convulsions),
    • beta-blockers are used in tachycardia (e.g. propranolol 0.02-0.04 mg / kg m.c. Intravenously).


Also often used in veterinary medicine, especially in the treatment of epilepsy.

The group of anticonvulsants includes long-acting barbiturates such as phenobarbital if primidone.

Short acting barbiturates (such as pentobarbital, or very short-lived thiopental) are mainly used for the induction of anesthesia and seizure control.

Phenobarbital side effects are the most common:

  • motor incoherence,
  • stupor,
  • increased thirst,
  • increased appetite, gluttony,
  • increased urine output,
  • restlessness, nervousness, agitation and excessive motor activity,
  • nystagmus,
  • haemorrhagic diathesis, coagulopathies in cats,
  • osteomalacia.

With phenobarbital overdose, the following are observed:

  • dedication, severe dementia and even coma,
  • motor incoherence,
  • paresis,
  • respiratory depression,
  • the death of the animal.

Symptoms of overdose are primarily due to severe liver damage.

Treatment is mainly aimed at:

  1. Supporting respiratory functions.
  2. Supporting liver function, supportive and symptomatic treatment,
  3. drug withdrawal.
  4. If ingestion is recent and the animal is clinical and conscious, vomiting and / or gastric lavage should be performed.
  5. Administering activated charcoal even every 4-6 hours can significantly support the therapy (even if the overdose was by injection).
  6. Intravenous fluids help maintain blood pressure at the proper level.
  7. If necessary, the animal undergoes oxygen therapy to support breathing.


Hypnotics (eg. zolpidem, zaleplon) have a similar effect as benzodiazepines.

Animals experience sedation rapidly after ingestion, but may experience paradoxical agitation.

Treatment is similar to poisoning with other sedative drugs.

Drugs used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Medicines, such as. Concerta, Adderall, used in treatment Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children and adolescents (ADHD) contain strong agents (such as amphetamines, methylphenidate), which in high doses produce strong arousal.

Even small amounts of these drugs can cause life-threatening side effects, including:

  • Heart arythmia,
  • stimulation,
  • trembling,
  • seizures and an increase in body temperature.

Drugs used in gynecology

The contraceptive pills come in fancy packaging that animals simply can't resist.

Hormones, often taken by women either for contraceptive or therapeutic purposes (such as estrogen, estradiol if progesterone) fortunately, they do not cause such catastrophic effects as e.g. paracetamol, however, their consumption in excess may inhibit the bone marrow and cause symptoms of estrogen poisoning.

If you notice that your dog or cat ingested these types of preparations, take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Cardiac drugs

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACEI) inhibitors

Commonly used preparations (e.g. Benazepril, Enalapril, Enap, Lotensin, Prestarium and others), are recommended for both humans and animals suffering from high blood pressure.

Taken in low doses, this group of drugs is not very dangerous for animals, but symptoms such as:

  • drop in blood pressure,
  • weakness,
  • pallor of the mucous membranes,
  • motor coordination disorders.

If there is a significant drop in blood pressure as a result of drug overdose, this may result in a secondary drop kidney damage.

In such a situation, you can give activated charcoal (it is most effective in the first few hours after consumption) and go to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Beta blockers

Propranolol, metoprolol, atenolol, timolol, esmolol are also drugs, used in people mainly with heart problems, such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease or arrhythmias.

They also have other uses - in the run glaucoma, disorders of intraocular pressure, as well as in hyperthyroidism and the treatment of migraine.

There are many preparations available on the market, and quite often used are:

  • Propranolol,
  • Vivacor,
  • Biosotal,
  • Betaloc,
  • Bisocard,
  • Concor,
  • Metoprolol,
  • Carvedilol and many others.

Despite the fact that they are used for similar disorders as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, even a small consumption of drugs from this group can cause serious poisoning in domestic animals.

Overdosing with beta-blockers results in a drop in blood pressure, which is life-threatening and significantly reduces the heart rate.

It may also occur:

  • respiratory depression,
  • coma,
  • seizures,
  • hyperkalemia,
  • hypoglycemia.

These drugs are absorbed fairly quickly from the gastrointestinal tract, and therefore vomiting is only induced in animals that have consumed drugs from this group during the less than 2 hours and they show no clinical signs of intoxication.

Activated carbon it is indicated when eating more tablets or when consuming extended-release drugs.

Treatment of poisoning consists of:

  • normalization of blood pressure,
  • arrhythmia correction
  • correction of electrolyte disturbances.

Calcium channel blockers

They are often recommended for people with coronary artery disease, high blood pressure or arrhythmias.

Verapamil, diltiazem, amlodipine are drugs that are also used in animals with cardiac problems.

The poisoning of the animal can therefore occur either as a result of accidental ingestion of a drug, e.g. to the caregiver, or as a result of deliberate administration by the caregiver during the treatment of heart diseases.

The most common symptoms seen with overdose of calcium antagonists are:

  • a significant drop in blood pressure (drowsiness, pale mucous membranes),
  • slow heart rate (bradycardia),
  • digestive tract disorders (vomiting, diarrhea),
  • pulmonary edema and heart blocks, and sometimes an increase in heart rate (in response to a marked drop in blood pressure).

Procedure in case of poisoning calcium channel blockers it should be careful and focused primarily on the equalization of blood pressure and the correction of cardiac arrhythmias.

The poisoned pet should be at the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

Induction of vomiting is carried out only if there are no clinical signs of intoxication, otherwise induction of vomiting may worsen bradycardia.

Administration of activated charcoal (which binds unabsorbed drug in the gastrointestinal tract) is most helpful if it occurs within the first few hours of taking the drug.

If, on the other hand, the drug has been poisoned with a prolonged-release drug, the administration of co-administration may be of considerable benefit 4-6 g hours in 2-4 doses.

Further actions are specific therapy aimed at:

  • normalization of blood pressure,
  • correction of cardiac arrhythmias,
  • monitoring the concentration of electrolytes and the activity of basic biochemical parameters.

Diuretic drugs

Various classes of drugs used in human medicine are also used in veterinary medicine.

Thiazide diuretics (chlorothiazide, hydrochlorothiazide), loop (furosemide) and potassium-sparing diuretics (spironolactone, triamterene) can be consumed in excess and cause overdose symptoms.

They include:

  • vomiting,
  • apathy,
  • depression,
  • polyuria,
  • increased thirst.

Take your pet to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

Treatment is mainly based on balancing the water and electrolyte balance and correcting blood pressure.

Thyroid hormones

One of the most commonly used human preparations is Euthyrox N.

Although animals (mainly dogs) also suffer from hypothyroidism, and the doses of hormones are much higher than in humans, overdose symptoms may also appear in them.

They include, but are not limited to:

  • stimulation,
  • muscle tremors,
  • nervousness,
  • accelerated heart rate,
  • aggression,
  • anxiety,
  • inability to find a place for yourself,
  • accelerated breathing,
  • wheezing and much more.

The use of human drugs, their dosage, route and frequency of administration in animals is not only a problem with converting the dose from "human" to animal.

It is a whole range of other criteria that must be followed by a veterinarian in choosing the right medicine..

They mainly rely on interspecies differences, e.g. different medications may be allowed in dogs and cats, and dosages vary.

Morphine, the dose used in dogs (even small ones) will not harm them, but in cats the effect of administering morphine at this dose may be unpredictable - it can trigger:

  • confusion,
  • bow,
  • drooling,
  • hyperactivity,
  • seizures,
  • death.

Cats are deficient in the enzyme that metabolizes morphine, resulting in a greater risk of side effects.

Another important criterion is certain specific sensitivities within a given breed.

Collies, for example, are very sensitive to certain medications, especially the ivermectin.

This breed has a recessive mutation in the MDR-1 gene.

This is a genetic defect that allows certain drugs to cross the blood-brain barrier, thereby affecting the nervous system.

This type of mutation has also been found in breeds such as:

  • Australian Shepherds,
  • miniature australian shepherds,
  • Border Collie,
  • long-haired scottish shepherd dog,
  • english shepherd dog,
  • German Shepherd,
  • Old English Sheepdog,
  • Shetland sheepdog,
  • Silken Windhound,
  • McNab,
  • longhair whippets.

Below is a list of commonly used medications that may have neurotoxic effects in dogs with the MDR-1 mutation.

Drugs completely prohibited in dogs with the MDR-1 gene mutation:

  • Antiparasitic drugs:
    • ivermectin (e.g. Ivermectin, Biomectin),
    • doramectin (e.g. Dectomax),
    • abamectin,
    • emodepside (e.g. Profender),
  • Antidiarrheal drugs:
    • loperamide,
  • Antimimetic drugs:
    • metoclopramide.

Drugs that are highly or moderately likely to be harmful:

  • Antiparasitic drugs (high risk of use):
    • milbemycin (e.g. Milbemax),
    • moxidectin (e.g. Advocate),
    • selamectin (e.g. Stronghold),
  • Sedatives and pain relievers:
    • acepromazine,
    • butorphanol - recommended dose reduction in dogs MDR1 mutant / mutant and MDR1 mutant / normal),
    • morphine,
    • buprenorphine,
    • fentanyl - no documented poisoning, but use with caution,
  • Cardiac drugs (need to monitor therapeutic blood levels):
    • digoxin (Digoxin),
    • digitoxin,
    • diltiazem,
    • quinidine,
    • verapamil,
  • Immunosuppressants:
    • ciclosporin - dose adjustment of ciclosporin is not recommended, but therapeutic dose monitoring is necessary,
    • tacrolismus,
    • dexamethasone,
  • Antibiotics:
    • erythromycin,
    • spiramycin,
    • enrofloxacin,
    • doxycycline (use with caution, but dose changes are not recommended),
    • grepafloxacin,
    • sparfloxacin,
    • rifampicin (use very carefully),
  • Hormonal drugs:
    • estradiol (high risk of toxicity),
  • Antineoplastic drugs (use very carefully):
    • Vincristine,
    • Vinblastin,
    • doxorubicin,
    • mitoxantrone,
    • dactinomycin,
    • etoposide,
    • paclitaxel - dose reduction is required in dogs MDR1 - mutant / mutant and MDR1 mutant / normal to avoid severe toxicity,
  • Antiulcer drugs:
    • domperidone (use very carefully, neurotoxic problems may occur),
    • cimetidine,
    • ranitidine,
    • ondansetron (use very carefully),
  • Antifungal drugs:
    • ketoconazole,
    • itraconazole,
  • Anticonvulsants:
    • phenytoin,
  • Immunomodulating drugs:
    • levamisole.

Regardless of how the poisoning occurred in the dog or cat and with what substance, always - if you notice any disturbing symptoms that may suggest toxic effects of the drug - withhold its administration.

Take your pet to the clinic immediately, and if the symptoms are not very severe - at least call a doctor and ask what to do.

It can save the life of your mentee.

Medicines that can be administered to animals

The list of human drugs that can harm our pets is really long, and I haven't described them all.

Is it then not allowed to give any medicaments from your own first aid kit to your pets??

Are there any safe ones that you should have, so that you can give your dog or cat, if necessary, without fear of poisoning your pet??

Yes of course.

As I mentioned in the opening section, there is a whole range of human medicines without which veterinary medicine would be in dire straits.  They are used in the treatment of dogs and cats, they are proven and their effects are predictable. However, these drugs should also be used with caution and only after consulting a veterinarian.

However, before we delve into the characteristics of each useful preparation, you need to know something. It is extremely important and absolutely irrefutable. Namely:
always, but always when it comes to administering any medication on your own, do it wisely:

  1. The drugs listed below may be administered to animals, but only with the consent of a veterinarian. If there is a need to relieve your pet and for some reason you cannot contact a specialist, you can conditionally administer the drug as soon as possible, but consult a doctor as soon as possible. Give the name of the drug and the dose, inform about the reaction of the animal.
  2. Never try to figure out the dose yourself, especially in terms of human dosing.
  3. If your pet has any medical conditions, do not try to self-induce any medications
  4. If your pet has other systemic diseases and is taking any other medications for them, do not introduce new medications without the knowledge and approval of your veterinarian.

Examples of human drugs used in animals

There is a whole range of drugs that have been successfully used in animals. These include, among others:

Drugs with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties

A typical representative of anti-inflammatory drugs that can be used in animals is meloxicam.

However, due to the fact that this group includes drugs that can poison or even kill the animal, they should be used only with the consent and under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Detailed information on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is provided below.


ACE inhibitors:

  • Enalapril,
  • benazepril,
  • ramipril.

These are drugs mainly used in cardiology, but they can also be used, for example, in. in kidney problems.

Antiemetic drugs - domperidone

Used in the case of chronic or acute vomiting accompanying other diseases (e.g. gastritis, renal failure) or chronic drug therapy.

Antifungal agents

  • Nystatin,
  • clotrimazole,
  • miconazole,
  • posaconazole.

Generally or topically used to combat fungal infections.

Antiprotozoal agents



  • Betamethasone,
  • hydrocortisone,
  • mometasone,
  • dexamethasone.

Medicines with multidirectional action, probably the most commonly used in veterinary medicine. Their main, used action is a strong anti-inflammatory effect.


  • Furosemide,
  • spironolactone.

They are mainly used to lower blood pressure and reduce swelling.

Stomach acid inhibitors

  • Omeprazole,
  • cimetidine.

By their action, they reduce the pH of gastric acid, which is used in the treatment of inflammation of the gastric mucosa and the prevention and treatment of ulcers.


  • Estriol,
  • thyroxine.

The use of hormonal drugs in animals is recommended in the case of various types of endocrine disorders, e.g. in hypothyroidism.

Intravenous anesthetics


Macrocyclic lactones

Ivermectin, used to fight ectoparasites.

Drugs for an overactive thyroid gland


Phosphodiesterase inhibitors

Pimobendan (used in cardiology).

Tyrosine kinase receptor inhibitors

Mastinib (used in oncology).

Antihistaminic drugs

Very often used to combat the symptoms of allergy, but also to reduce the symptoms of motion sickness.

The most common are:

  • claritina,
  • ranitidine,
  • aviomarin.


A huge group of drugs that are used to fight diseases caused by microorganisms. These include widely used in human and veterinary medicine:

  • penicillins,
  • cephalosporins,
  • aminoglycosides,
  • tetracyclines,
  • sulfonamides,
  • fluoroquinolones and many others.

Drugs with antidepressant, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant and sedative effects

Medicines from this group are commonly used in people to relieve any depressive, obsessive-compulsive or other mental disorders. In veterinary medicine, we also encounter behavioral disorders, the most common of which are:

  • separation anxiety,
  • abnormal urination (psychogenic background),
  • aggression,
  • over-grooming, leading to self-harm (a disorder more common in cats).

Of course, in animals - as is the case in humans - appropriate behavioral therapy is a key factor considered in this type of disorder, but the use of behavior-modifying drugs allows (mainly at the beginning of treatment) to silence the animal, manage numerous secondary diseases (such as. skin infections) and to optimize the further handling of the animal.

Keepers want to help their pets survive one of the loudest times of the year - the Christmas and New Year's Eve periods, when a large number of dogs and cats are subjected to enormous stress, panic and hysteria to the sound of loud fireworks.

In aggressive animals, these drugs reduce anxiety, stabilize mood and reduce impulsiveness. Of course, psychotropic drugs are not free from side effects, therefore therapy with their use should always be a last resort, and only in extreme cases. These preparations should not be administered long-term because they lead to long-term sedation and may be addictive. As a rule, they are used temporarily, simultaneously with the conducted behavioral therapy.

Among human psychotropic drugs, the following have been used:

  • Preparations containing fluoxetine - quite often prescribed to aggressive dogs and cats to calm down, and also to the latter to reduce peeing.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants, including amitriptyline and clomipramine. Currently, veterinary products of this group of drugs are available.

Cytotoxic drugs

Perhaps the greatest successes and benefits associated with the use of human drugs are seen in oncological therapy. It is estimated that approximately 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will develop some form of cancer.
Currently - thanks to the use of human cytotoxic drugs - veterinarians have the opportunity to treat many neoplastic diseases and improve the quality of life of sick animals. Of course, the selection of drugs, the frequency of administration and the response to treatment depend on various factors, including the type of cancer, the dog's age, the condition and clinical condition of the patient, the body's tolerance to cytostatics, as well as the therapeutic protocol itself, but many times it is possible to optimize and individualize treatment in with respect to a specific case. The most common malignant neoplasms in animals are:

  • lymphoma,
  • mammary gland cancer,
  • skin cancer.

There are various treatments for cancer, some of which are a combination of all possible. So we can deal with:

  • chemotherapy,
  • surgery,
  • radiotherapy,
  • electrochemotherapy.

Various chemotherapy protocols include drugs such as:


  • cyclophosphamide,
  • prednisone,
  • doxorubicin,
  • L-asparaginase,
  • vinblastine.

In the case of lymphoma, the use of multi-drug chemotherapy may result in a remission lasting 1-2 years! Without drugs, animals do not survive even a month.

Unfortunately, the costs of drugs, visits to the clinic and check-ups are extremely high, which, combined with the need to travel frequently to reference clinics, often prevents the use of chemotherapy. Another difficulty is the fact that most cancers in animals are incurable, and additionally they are detected very late, when tumor metastases are already present or the animal's organism does not tolerate chemotherapy.

This makes the use of chemotherapy in many animals palliative and does not lead to a cure, but only alleviates symptoms and prolongs life in comfort. If you are ever put in a situation where you need to give your pet a human drug, check first that it is not on the prohibited or dangerous drug list. And always, always consult your veterinarian for dosing.

To make the decision even easier and help in the possible selection of some preparations, below I present a brief description of the drugs that you can give your pet ad hoc in a situation where such a need arises. Remember, however, that the possibility of using the following preparations, their dosage and frequency of administration, apply to animals in which no co-morbid disorders such as renal failure, liver disease, pancreatitis or other serious conditions that substantially affect the metabolism of drugs have been found.

Over-the-counter medications given to animals on a temporary basis


These are drugs that have found widespread use in veterinary medicine, especially in the treatment of allergy symptoms caused by the action of histamine (especially itching and anaphylactic reactions). They are also successfully used to calm down gently, as well as anti-emetic and anti-ulcer drugs (they inhibit the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach).

Antihistaminics are divided into 1st or 2nd generation drugs.

Antihistamines have cholinergic activity and have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, hence their use may cause side effects.
Second-generation drugs do not show these effects (in therapeutic doses), therefore their use is considered safer. However, before we reach for drugs from this group, the composition should be carefully analyzed - they are often combined with other drugs, such as. swelling-reducing substances or painkillers, such as paracetamol or NSAIDs.

  1. Chlorpheniramine - 1st generation antihistaminic.
    In dogs, after oral administration, it is absorbed quickly and completely, and after 30-60 minutes it already reaches the maximum concentration in the blood.
    The recommended dose for cats is 1-2 mg, for dogs 2-8 mg 2-3 times a day (orally).
    Attention. At doses At higher doses, tremors, ataxia, depression, hyperactivity, hyperthermia and seizures may occur.
  2. Clemastine. Rather not recommended for use in animals due to its low effectiveness.
    Its bioavailability in dogs after oral administration (recommended dose 0.05-0.1 mg / kg m.c. Twice a day) is very weak (unlike humans).
    Common side effects of clemastine include:

    • calm,
    • somnolence,
    • lethargy,
    • sometimes dry mouth,
    • increased heart rate,
    • stimulation,
    • anxiety,
    • slowing down of intestinal peristalsis.
  3. Dimenhydrynat (prep. Aviomarin) I Diphenhydraine - 1st generation antihistamines, used to combat gag reflexes in motion sickness.
    Diphenhydramine is additionally used for allergic symptoms and also has a calming effect.
    The recommended dose for cats is 4-8 mg / kg, and for dogs 2-4 mg / kg.
    The most common side effects are hyperactivity or vice versa - depression and apathy, hypersalivation, increased breathing, increased heart rate.
  4. Promethazine (prep. Diphergan, Polfergan) - 1st generation antihistamine drug, used in the treatment of motion sickness.
    Overdose can lead to depression of the central nervous system and excessive excitement.
  5. Meclizine - an old first-generation drug that has been attracted again due to scientists' reports that meclizine could heal human strokes, heart attacks and even cancer.
    Its primary use, however, is to combat gag reflexes in the course of motion sickness.
    The recommended dose for dogs is 25 mg / day / dog.
    At higher doses, mild side effects (depression or mild hyperactivity) may occur.
  6. Loratidine (e.g. Claritine, Flonidan, Loratan) - a long-acting second-generation antihistamine.
    It is relatively safe and has a wide safety margin in animals.
    Recommended dose for a dog 5-10 mg 1-2 times a day (by mouth).
    One of the most effective antihistaminics in animals.
  7. Cetirizine (Zyrtec) - 2nd generation antihistaminic, recommended in the case of allergic symptoms (pruritus, urticaria).
    The recommended dose in dogs is 1 mg / kg m.c. 1-2 times a day orally, for cats 5 mg twice a day orally.
    Side effects include vomiting, hypersalivation, somnolence, sedation, occasional hyperactivity.
  8. Medicines used to relieve cough.
    • Dextromethorphan (e.g. Acodin, Robitussin, Tussi Drill and other preparations).
      It is an opioid cough suppressant available in many cold and cough preparations.
      It is well absorbed after oral administration and after about 30 minutes of consumption it suppresses cough.
      The recommended doses for dogs and cats are 0.5 - 2 mg / kg m.c., 1- 3 times a day.
      After oral ingestion it is quickly absorbed and transformed into its active form in the liver.
      Overdosing can cause symptoms such as:

      • anxiety,
      • nervousness,
      • over agitation,
      • hallucinations,
      • pupil dilation,
      • trembling,
      • vomiting,
      • diarrhea,
      • drowsiness and sedation.
    • Syrups, for human use, containing mucilages of plants (e.g. mallow flowers and leaves, coltsfoot leaves, mullein flower, marshmallow root) have a weak antitussive effect, protecting the respiratory mucosa against irritation.
      The recommended dose of the popular marshmallow syrup for dogs and cats is 1-5 ml per animal 3 times a day.
  9. Painkillers.
    • Meloxicam.
      It is a registered non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for dogs and cats that is commonly used to control pain, inflammation and fever.
      Human medications that contain this ingredient include: Opokan,
      Aglan, Lormed, Meloxam and many more.
      The recommended starting dose is: in dogs 0.2 mg / kg m.c., in cats 0.1 mg / kg m.c.
      Subsequent doses should be lower: dogs 0.1 mg / kg, cats 0.05 mg / kg m.c.
      Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should not be used for a long time without consulting a veterinarian.
      Overdose resulting from too high doses or chronic administration may lead to the appearance of typical symptoms of poisoning.
      It is worth noting that the use of NSAIDs can make pancreatitis worse.
    • Pyralgina.
      Metamizole, which is part of it, has an analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effect, and partially spasmolytic.
      It is mainly recommended for the relief of painful conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract or other organs of the abdominal cavity.
      Also used in inflammation of muscles and joints.
      The dose of metamizole in dogs is 20-50 mg / kg m.c. (for a 10-kilogram pooch from half to 1 tablet of pyralgin, depending on
      pain worsening).
    • No-spa.
      It has a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles of the digestive tract, urogenital tract and bile ducts.
      Usually administered in the treatment of flatulence, gastrointestinal spastic conditions, as well as in the treatment of bladder stones in cats (especially in cats).
      The recommended dose is 0.04-1.5 mg / kg m.c. (usually 1 tablet per 10 kg m.c. 3 times per day).
  10. Antiulcer drugs.
    • H2 receptor antagonists (antihistamines).
      Commonly used in the treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers, gastritis, esophagitis and acid reflux.
      Through their action, they reduce the secretion of gastric acid.
      Examples of drugs are: cimetidine, famotidine, ranitidine (referred to as H2 blockers).
      Drugs in this group have a fairly wide margin of safety, and even if an oral overdose occurs, symptoms (usually mild) include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and dry mouth.
      Serious side effects can occur after intravenous drug overdose.
      Oral doses of individual drugs:

      • Famotidine 0.5 mg / kg m.c. every 12-14 hours.
      • Cimetidine 10 mg / kg m.c. every 6-8 hours (in animals with renal failure, the dose should be reduced to 2.5-5 mg / kg m.c. every 12 hours).
        As cimetidine inhibits liver enzymes, it may increase the concentration of other drugs used concomitantly, e.g. theophylline.
      • Ranitidine. Dose in dogs 2 mg / kg m.c. Every 6-8 hours, 2.5 mg / kg every 12 hours in cats.
        Ranitidine is 4-10 times more potent and longer-acting than cimetidine, and has fewer side effects associated with endocrine system function and drug interactions. ○ Proton pump inhibitors:
      • Omeprazole - inhibits the secretion of gastric juice more strongly and for longer than most available antisecretory drugs.
        It is used in the treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal ulcers.
        The dose in the dog is 0.7 mg / kg m.c. Once a day orally on an empty stomach (30 - 60 minutes before a meal).
        In cats, it is not recommended.
  11. Antidiarrheal drugs.
    • Smecta.
      In addition to its anti-diarrheal activity, it also has the ability to bind toxins.
      The recommended dosage is 1 smecty sachet per 20 kg m.c. 3 times per day.
      The sachet is dissolved in about 50 ml of water (or meat broth) and administered in this form to the mouth.
    • Activated carbon.
      It is primarily an absorbing substance, mainly used in poisoning to absorb drugs and toxins in the intestines to prevent their further absorption.
      It is very safe to use, it is not absorbed by itself in the intestines and is excreted.
      The dose is 2-8 g / kg m.c.
    • Kaopectate.
      Kaolin absorbs toxins and pectins protect the intestinal mucosa.
      It is administered orally at a dose of 1-2 ml / kg m.c. every 2-6 hours 12. Supportive drugs for constipation.
    • Lactulosum syrup.
      It supports the treatment of chronic constipation in cats, as well as temporarily in case of constipation in animals.
      The dose for dogs is 5-15 ml orally 3 times a day, for cats 2-3 ml orally 3 times a day.
      When administering lactulose, provide fresh, clean water and make sure your pet drinks a lot.
    • Liquid paraffin.
      Mainly administered to cats as a lubricant to facilitate defecation at a dose of 5-7 ml / cat twice a day orally.
    • Mineral oil.
      It is a moisturizing and laxative.
      By its action, it increases the water content in the stool, thanks to which the passage of fecal masses through the back sections of the digestive tract is accelerated
      The dose for dogs is 20-50 ml / dog every 12 hours orally, for cats 10-20 ml / cat every 12 hours orally.
  12. Anti-flatulence medications.
    • The most commonly used human preparation is Espumisan.
      Vets often recommend it in order to prepare a patient for an ultrasound examination.
      It is used in a dose of 1-2 capsules 3-4 times a day.
  13. Means for washing the skin, eyes or mucous membranes:
  14. Physiological fluid for rinsing the eyes and nose.
    • Artificial tears or soothing eye drops, such as. skylight, can be used in ophthalmic emergencies.
  15. Supplements.
    Vitamin kits, fatty acids or substances that protect the articular cartilage are not drugs that must be used in emergency situations.
    Always consult a veterinarian about administering these types of preparations.
    Remember that human drugs in this situation may not be suitable, and not because they will harm, but because of their inappropriate composition.
    All kinds of probiotics, e.g. they differ from ours in terms of the type and number of colony-forming bacteria.
    Veterinary preparations in many cases are richer in composition, intended for a specific species of animal and taking into account its specific metabolism.
    Certain vitamins, such as. vitamin C is not necessary for supplementation as both dogs and cats synthesize this vitamin on their own (unlike humans and guinea pigs).
    Another thing is the palatability of the tablets.
    Currently, manufacturers of veterinary drugs and supplements make sure that all forms of oral medications are tasty and attractive for dogs or cats.
    Human medications cannot always find the pet's approval (even if it is strawberry syrup for children).
    The same applies to the use of chondroprosthetics, such as. glucosamine, chondroitin and omega 3 and omega 6 unsaturated fatty acids.
    They will not harm the animal even after repeated administration, but the therapeutic effect may be disappointing compared to typical veterinary preparations.
  16. Preparations or drugs administered to induce vomiting:
    • 7% vomiting root syrup.
      The dose for a dog is 1-2 ml / kg m.c., cats 3.3 ml / kg m.c.
    • 3% hydrogen peroxide: 1-5 ml / kg m.c. (for dogs maximum 50 ml, for cats maximum 10 ml)
  17. Preparations for disinfecting wounds:
    • rivanol,
    • octenisept,
    • betadine.

Factors influencing the action of drugs

Just because these drugs can be bought over the counter does not mean they are safe. I will repeat again after Paracelsus: everything is poison and nothing is poison; only the dose decides. And indeed - the dose of the drug is a key factor in determining how the drug will affect your pet. But not only.

There are other very important variables that play a significant role in drug efficacy and / or toxicity. They are divided into 3 main groups:

  • drug dependent,
  • organism dependent,
  • dependent on the environment.

Drug dependent factors

  • Organoleptic properties.
    This feature plays an important role in accidental drug poisoning in dogs and cats.
    It happens that attractive-looking and tasty drugs are taken by the animal in greater amounts than those that are bitter and smell unpleasant.
  • The state of fragmentation of a given drug.
    The more fragmented the drug, the faster it is absorbed, and thus poisoning can occur faster.
  • The solubility of the substance.
    It also determines the speed of absorption and the possible toxic effects of a given drug.
    The better it dissolves in water, fluids, body juices or fats, the greater the risk of poisoning.
    Substances that do not dissolve cannot be absorbed into the body, and thus can only have a mechanical effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa.
  • Chemical structure of a given drug.
    Types of chemical bonds present in a given substance, substituents, chain length, as well as the type of isomerism - these are all features that determine whether and to what extent a given drug will be toxic to the body.
  • The route of administration of the drug.
    How the drug is administered may play a key role in its therapeutic effect and toxic potential.
    It is obvious that drugs are most effective when given intravenously, but some of them must not be given this way.
    Many medications used by animal keepers are administered orally, thanks to which, in situations of accidental ingestion of medications, it is possible to quickly act to inhibit or prevent absorption of the drug.

Organism-dependent factors

  • Species, race and individual factors.
    Certain drugs that are used in a given species (e.g. your dog), can be toxic to your cat (and vice versa).
    The same is true for human medications.
    The fact that a given drug is safe and can be given even to children does not mean that it will not harm your dog or cat.
    This is why you should never resort to human medications without consulting your vet.
    An example is paracetamol, which can even lead to death in a cat.
    Sometimes certain breeds of animals are very sensitive to certain groups of drugs.
    It is already known that we will not give loperamide to a collie, as this may result in serious poisoning or even death of the animal.
    Also, the individual tendencies of a given individual may affect the greater sensitivity to intoxication with a given drug.
    Even within the same species, a drug that can be safely administered can lead to severe intoxication in an animal with some enzymatic deficiency, often fatal.
    This is known as idiosyncrasy - a condition where the body reacts too strongly or inappropriately to certain chemicals.
    Unfortunately, this feature is unpredictable, and usually it is caused by abnormal biochemical changes in the body.
    Such a disorder may be congenital (genetically determined) or acquired, most often due to other systemic diseases.
  • Age of the animals.
    Newborns and older animals are more sensitive to the toxic effects of drugs than adults.
    In very young animals, the liver enzymes involved in drug metabolism are not yet properly developed, which is associated with a higher risk of poisoning.
    In addition, in newborns, the absorption of substances from the gastrointestinal tract is much faster than in older animals.
    In turn, in seniors, due to age, the activity of numerous enzymes is reduced, and hormonal functions are also weakened.
    As a result of reduced blood flow to vital organs, such as the liver or kidneys, excretion of drugs is reduced, making drugs more susceptible to toxic effects.
  • The sex of the animals plays a smaller role than those mentioned above, although studies have shown some differences in the tolerance of certain drugs.
    For example, male dogs may be more sensitive to digitoxin than female dogs.
    The most noticeable differences are in the use of drugs that affect the levels of certain sex hormones.
  • The state of the organism.
    This is an extremely important factor that should be taken into account when administering any medications to your pet.
    It is obvious that a weak or diseased animal is more susceptible to poisoning or the occurrence of side effects than a healthy animal (without accompanying systemic diseases).
    Prolonged fasting, low-protein or protein-free diets are factors that inhibit drug metabolism (by reducing the activity of liver enzymes).
    On the other hand, fatty individuals may accumulate some fat-soluble substances that are released into the body - they can lead to poisoning.
    If a dog or cat has digestive disorders, it may lead to faster absorption of certain medications, and hence it is only a step away from poisoning.
    Of great importance in the case of drug poisoning are all liver diseases, which is the main organ involved in the transformation of drugs.
    With liver damage, the activity of enzymes involved in the metabolism of drugs is reduced, which is associated with a weakening of the detoxification function and intoxication.
    Conversely, many veterinary agents (anticonvulsants, glucocorticoids) can damage the liver.
    Kidney disease leads to increased drug toxicity - malfunctioning kidneys do not excrete drugs and their metabolites quickly enough, which leads to accumulation in the body.
    Additionally, the use of certain medications (e.g. aminoglycosides, polymyxins, amphotericin) may be toxic to the kidneys.
    In females, pregnancy or lactation are completely physiological conditions, but many drugs have the possibility of passing into the fetus or mother's milk, which may result in irreversible changes in the fetuses, and even their death.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors do not play such a significant role in the course of drug poisoning, although they may affect the course of poisoning. Belong to them:

  • ambient temperature,
  • atmospheric pressure,
  • light,
  • humidity or ionizing radiation.

Drug interactions

Medicines can interact with each other in a variety of ways. Some enhance the effects of another, administered simultaneously, preparation, while others weaken it. Interactions affect virtually every aspect of drug pharmacokinetics. They can hinder or accelerate absorption, slow down the metabolism of a given substance or even prevent its action.
Always ask your doctor about the method of administering and combining medications, and inform him about all medications that you give your pet at
home. Always remember about drug interactions when giving any medications to your client. It is an interaction of two (or more) different drugs, which produces effects other than those expected in the situation of a single administration of individual drugs. In other words, taking different medications may lead to a situation where either they do not work as expected (e.g. canceling or weakening its effect), or the effect of one of them will be much stronger (which may lead to serious complications and side effects), or it may reveal or intensify the toxic effects of any drug, which will lead to poisoning.

Medicines can interact at different times in the body.

  • If two different preparations are consumed, their chemical or physical effects may occur in the initial phase.
    Maybe it, for example. result in the formation of a new substance with unpredictable effects on the body, it can also lead to the inactivation of one of the drugs.
    An example may be the simultaneous administration of an antibiotic and a probiotic, as a result of which the probiotic bacteria will be inactivated and their effects will be absent.
  • Drug interactions in the absorption stage, where the absorption of one drug may be inhibited by another drug.
    We use this property of activated carbon when we do not want a given poison or drug to be absorbed into the body.
    But there are also other substances that can hinder the absorption of drugs and thus reduce their therapeutic effects.
    Many vitamins or minerals can make it difficult for others to absorb.
    Always tell your vet about any medications you are giving your dog or cat.
  • Interactions at the stage of drug distribution in the body.
    Multiple drugs administered at the same time can compete with each other when transported around the body.
    In order for the substances to reach the target tissues, they must be transported there.
    Most often it happens thanks to carriers (most often they are plasma proteins).
    And so, e.g. acetylsalicylic acid may displace other drugs (e.g. penicillins or sulfonamides) from such combinations or compete with them for binding to proteins, which increases the concentration of the free fraction of these drugs in the blood.
  • Interactions in metabolic processes.
    For example, phenobarbital can accelerate the metabolism of certain anticoagulants, and cimetidine, in turn, can inhibit enzymes from the cytochrome P450 group (important in drug metabolism).
  • Interactions during the excretion stage.
    Drugs can alter urine pH and thus excret other substances, or simply compete for binding sites in transport systems.
    Compounds that lower the pH of the urine (acidic) accelerate the excretion of weak alkalis (e.g. morphine, amphetamines, quinidines).
    In turn, urine alkalinization accelerates the excretion of salicylates, barbiturates and sulfonamides.
  • Medicines can also interact with each other, either by enhancing each other's effect (synergistic effect) or by acting in opposition (antagonistic effect).
    This interaction of drugs can be manifested as: ○ Additive effect - when the combined effect of the drugs is equal to the sum of their effects (if they were to be used separately).

    • Potential - Occurs when the effect of two compounds is greater than expected.
      Such an effect occurs e.g. when a drug that is normally harmless increases the effects of the toxic substance.
    • Synergism, i.e. the concerted action of two drugs, which leads to an effect greater than expected when the two drugs are administered separately).
      In the case of administration, e.g. of two painkillers, we are dealing with additive synergism - i.e. the effect of such a mixture is equal to the sum of the actions of individual substances.
      There is also the so-called hyperadditional synergism, when the effect is much greater than the sum of the individual drug effects (e.g. calcium ions and cardiac glycosides increase the force of contraction of the heart muscle).
  • If two drugs inhibit each other or even suppress each other's effects, it is called antagonistic.
    There are many classes of drugs that are antagonistic to others.
    For example: tetracyclines with divalent and trivalent metal ions, such as calcium, iron or aluminum, form non-absorbable complexes, thus inactivating.
    That is why antibiotics from the tetracycline group should not be administered with milk or milk products.

As you can see, the number of dependencies and processes that drugs undergo in the body is enormous. In many cases, we are not able to fully predict how a given organism will react to a specific preparation. It is enough to unfold the first and best leaflet of any specific product and see how much space is taken to describe the side effects. Of course, not every patient will react negatively to the drug taken, but it is not worth tempting fate. After all, we want to help the animal, not harm it, right?


Over the past 30 years, the field of veterinary medicine has made tremendous progress and has now substantially brought the quality of the veterinary services provided closer to the level observed in human medicine. This is possible mainly due to the significant improvement in diagnostic techniques, the continuous expansion of knowledge about animal diseases, as well as the ever-growing education of their keepers.

One factor that plays a large role in the treatment of animals is the possible use of drugs intended for human treatment (with some exceptions for livestock therapy).

Since both dogs and cats (and other domestic furries) develop the same diseases that humans suffer from, the possibility of using human medications that have no veterinary equivalents has greatly contributed to improving the treatment outcomes of many diseases and disorders that were previously were considered incurable.

This content was not intended to demonize drugs used in medicine, but only to present the consequences that may arise in situations of their inappropriate use.

It's not that human drugs are bad.

However, you need to use them wisely, and for this you need, as you can see, specific knowledge about the pharmacotherapy of pets.

In concluding this extensive study, I would like to draw your attention to a very important aspect: there are no completely safe drugs.

In animal therapy (I am tempted to say that also humans), safety is determined by a decision that can either be right and result in a good therapeutic effect, or it may end up in a malpractice and cause additional suffering to the animal.

Don't take this responsibility and ask your vet for the green light before taking any medicine.

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