By Arden Moore
Pro Pet Hero Instructor Director and Master Pet First Aid/CPR Instructor
OTC Pain Medications
If you are dealing with a headache or sore muscles, you may reach for aspirin or ibuprofen for relief. These over-the-counter pain medications are effective, inexpensive and generally, safe for use on people when label directions are followed.
Popular human OTCs fall into two categories: those containing acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) and those containing ibuprofen (such as Advil). Neither group of OTCs, however, are safe to give your dog or cat.
“OTC meds from the human medicine cabinet are just not a good choice!” warns Robin Downing, DVM, who operates the Downing Center for Animal Pain Management at Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Windsor, Colorado. “Ibuprofen is actually very toxic in dogs and cats, and can cause death even with aggressive treatment. These OTCs are definitely not safe for someone to give their pets at home.”
Consider this: just one acetaminophen pill can kill a cat within four to 12 hours of ingestion. And, in dogs, this OTC can cause stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding, severely damage the kidneys, destroy liver cells, and yes, can also be potentially fatal. Brands like Tylenol are acetaminophens that are non-aspirin medications used to treat pain and fever, but they do not relieve inflammation and can cause irreversible liver and kidney damage in pets.
Ibuprofen and aspirins also provide pain relief, but they belong to the category of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories known as NSAIDs. Even baby aspirin can be harmful to give your pet, depending on his age, weight, and overall health condition.
Even with your veterinarian’s green light on acetaminophen, dogs with prescribed safe doses might still experience some side effects, such as gastrointestinal upset, liver and/or kidney issues, and blood-related problems.
If your cat or dog is in pain from an injury, arthritis, or recovering from surgery, play it safe by discussing pain relief options for your pet. Fortunately, pain management in pets is a field of veterinary medicine drawing much attention and research.
Pet-safe Pain Management
Your veterinarian is most likely to prescribe pain-relieving medications specifically made for dogs and cats. Here is a list of these common pain medications:
* Deramaxx (not recommended for cats)
* Rimadyl (not approved for cats)
In addition, here are some types of natural pain-relieving options:
* Therapeutic massage performed by a veterinary professional
* Joint supplements for chronic pain that contain glucosamine. A popular brand is Cosequin.
* Omega-3 fatty acid supplements to reduce arthritic pain and inflammation
The team of veterinary toxicologists at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center fields all types of calls from panicked pet parents. The leading reason for calls is due to pets swallowing OTC medications. Alert everyone in your home about the dangers of OTCs to dogs and cats and make sure they are not within paw’s reach – ever. And, post the APPC’s helpline in a visible place in your home – such as on the refrigerator door. That toll-free number is 88 426-4435.
Learn Pet First Aid
Learn more on ways to keep your cats and dogs safe by visiting http://www.propethero.com. Consider taking our veterinarian-approved online pet first aid/CPR course. Enter this code: CPR – ARDEN MOORE and receive a 10 percent discount! And, if you are interested in becoming a Pro Pet Hero instructor, please click on the BECOME AN INSTRUCTOR button on the home page for more details.