6110 Creston Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50321
Phone(515) 280-3100

ISU Student Experience

Accidental Ingestion of Human Medications

In the Emergency Department at IVS we see many cases of poisoning caused by ingestion of human prescription and over-the-counter medications and ointments.  These can be very serious and even life-threatening.  Imagine the dosage differences for our veterinary patients compared to the size of the people the medications are intended.  In many cases, even the ingestion of a single pill could be lethal for our four-legged friends. 

Precautions which should be taken to prevent accidental ingestion of medications:

1.  Store medications in a high, closed cabinet.  Never leave medications out on a counter, table or nightstand.     Child-proof does not mean pet proof!

2.  Do not store human and animal medications in the same place.

3.  Do not take human medication out of a pill bottle when your pet is nearby.  (How is it that they think you are giving them a treat when you drop one of your pills and slam it down before you even realize you dropped one but, if you need them to take their medication, they hide or fight you off?!) 

4.  Do not keep medications in your purse.  If you need to have medications with you, make sure to zip your purse closed and/or shut securely in a closet.  Be careful when friends or relatives stop in to put their purse in a closet or high up off the floor. 

5.  Never leave shopping bags with your prescriptions within the reach of a pet.  They seem to believe we are out shopping for THEM and have the perfect treat stashed inside our bags.

6.  Never give human medication to a pet, unless specifically told to do so by a veterinarian.  There are over-the-counter medications safe to use (in specific sizes and dosages) but also be aware some can be toxic with just one small pill. 

Our ER staff has witnessed the results of all the above errors in human judgement.  Please note that sometimes it's not the medication that becomes the problem . . . it's the pill vial or container the pet chewed up and swallowed to get to the medication.  Toothpaste tubes, plastic containers and lids do not travel well through a pet's digestive tract. 

If your pet has found a way to ingest a medication, please bring them to the ER immediately.  It would be very helpful to bring the medication along with you.  Our ER staff is available 24 hours a day to review the medication, evaluate the risks involved and do whatever is necessary to ensure the health of your pet. 

Published on October 4, 2016

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