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Human medications can harm pets

Although this article from Yahoo! news is about children, it reminds me of a topic that is important to pets. Cold meds send 7,000 kids...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Feb 4th 2008


Although this article from Yahoo! news is about children, it reminds me of a topic that is important to pets.

Cold meds send 7,000 kids to hospitals
By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

ATLANTA – Cough and cold medicines send about 7,000 children to hospital emergency rooms each year, the U.S. government said Monday in its first national estimate of the problem.

About two-thirds of the cases were children who took the medicines unsupervised. However, about one-quarter involved cases in which parents gave the proper dosage and an allergic reaction or some other problem developed, the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The study included both over-the-counter and prescription medicines. It comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned parents that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are too dangerous for children younger than 2.

Adults and children sometimes metabolize medicines differently. This is part of the reason why young children may have adverse reactions to medications that are generally safe for adults.

The metabolisms of cats and dogs are unique as well. Although many human drugs are used in veterinary medicine, others are very dangerous for pets. For example, acetaminophen (found in Tylenol and Vicodin) is very toxic to cats.

The take-home message is that, no matter how tempting it may be, you should never give medicine to your pet without first talking to your veterinarian.