Since the COVID-19 pandemic started we have seen an uptick in pet adoptions, and I have to admit I am guilty of being one of those statistics. I recently adopted a little black and white Pitbull Mix puppy named Keke. A big shout out to Stealing Hearts Rescue in Arizona for providing me with such a wonderful and well behaved pup. The new puppy has been fun, but also a lot of work. As many of you may know, puppies like to get into anything and everything. One of the first things I did when I adopted Keke was I took her to the veterinarian for a wellness visit. As I was sitting in the waiting room an older couple rushed in with their dog panicking and begging for help because their dog ate some of their medication. The wife started listing all of their medications, Tramadol, Lisinopril, Metformin, and more. She was not exactly sure what all their dog did or did not ingest or how much. In cases of dog poisoning, the most common cause is unintentional overdose from medication. Yikes! So what do you do when your dog or puppy eats your medication?

Firstly, you should determine how much your dog ate, and how strong the dose is in each pill to assess the severity of the situation. If risk of danger seems very low, observing your pet will usually be fine. If there is doubt regarding the risk of danger, you should go to your veterinarian immediately. Provide them with as much information as possible; whether your dog ate pills or drank liquid medicine and the suspected amount consumed. It’s always better to be safe than sorry in these situations. The vet will most likely induce vomiting, then give your pup charcoal to prevent further absorption of any drug that might still remain.

This leads to how do I determine the risk and severity of the situation? And what medications are extremely dangerous to dogs? Different signs can be present depending on the medication. These are some of the most common signs of drug poisoning in dogs.

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling or excessive salivation
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Disorientation
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Agitation
  • Irregular heartbeat (very rapid or too slow)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Lethargy
  • Depressed breathing
  • Seizures
  • Stupor and coma

Even as little as one dose of an acetaminophen pain reliever can cause severe organ damage in a medium-size dog. Because animals do not have the natural enzymes necessary for processing drugs made for humans, medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are a major cause of dog poisoning.

The most common dangerous medications are:

  • Antihistamines
  • Sleeping tablets
  • Diet pills
  • Heart pills
  • Blood pressure pills

Ingestion of these medications by dogs can lead to life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature, and even cardiac and respiratory arrest. In addition to human medications, ingesting too much pet medication can also be very harmful to their health. Pet meds are often flavored to appeal to your dog, so this is something they actually want to eat. The best way to prevent your dog from ingesting dangerous materials is to make them inaccessible by storing them beyond your dog’s reach. Lids and bottle caps should also always be tightly screwed on.

As mentioned earlier, if you’re unsure how bad the situation is it’s always best to visit the vet. Never try to induce vomiting yourself at home. These attempts usually don’t work and can cause significant stress to your pet. Additionally, time is of the essence since the toxic substance is absorbed every minute you wait. Instead, call your nearest veterinary emergency center for advice and directions. There is also the Pet Poison Helpline that you can call at 1-800-213-6680 with any concerns.

I hope this blog helps all the new pet owners out there or even ones who have had theirs for a long time. Knowing what to do could be life saving to your furry friend!