Drug Poisoning in Dogs

Many dogs die of drug poisoning.  Surprisingly, most of the dogs that die this way did not get into their owner’s medications, but were given medications meant for humans by their owners.  Most human medications, even over the counter medications, are toxic to dogs.  Never give a dog a human medication without the express permission of your veterinarian.

Ibuprofen is a common over the counter remedy for inflammation and pain.  It is sold as Advil, Motrin, Midol, and as a generic.  It should never be given to a dog.  Ibuprofen destroys the kidneys by inhibiting COX enzymes, which ensure blood flow to the kidneys.  This same inhibition of COX enzymes keeps them from protecting the mucosal barrier of the gastrointestinal tract and regulate platelet function.  The mucosal barrier of the gastrointestinal tract becomes damaged causing vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, intestinal upset and even gastric ulcers.  Reduced platelet function allows these ulcers to bleed, leaving the dog to die from internal bleeding. In cases of ibuprofen indigestion, forced vomiting or stomach pumping may help.  If a gastric ulcer occurs, surgery is necessary. Treatment for damaged kidneys is fluid and a transfusion may be required if the platelets are damaged.  Immediate treatment is necessary.

Tylenol (acetaminophen) is a common pain reliever.  A veterinarian may prescribe Tylenol, but too much can kill your dog.  The symptoms of acetaminophen toxicity are brownish-gray colored gums, labored breathing, yellow color of skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice), swollen face, neck, or limbs, coma, (reduced body temperature, vomiting, and diarrhea.  A veterinarian may cause the dog to vomit or pump his stomach to rid him of the medicine.  In addition, the dog will be given supplemental oxygen, fluids, and vitamin C, cimetidine, and N-acetylcysteine.  An amino acid called cystiene is also used as one of the most effective treatments because it helps the liver repair any damage to it.  Immediate treatment is necessary if the dog is to survive.

Aspirin is so common it seems harmless.  Although veterinarians may tell you to give your dog aspirin, giving him too much can put his life at risk.  Aspirin can poison your dog just as other drugs do.  Symptoms of aspirin toxicity are loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and intestinal hemorrhage caused by ulcers in the stomach and small intestines.  The central nervous system is affected and the dog may have trouble walking, appear weak and uncoordinated, or even collapse.  Loss of consciousness and sudden death can also occur.  Treatment consists of making the dog vomit the aspirin up or pumping the stomach to limit the amount that goes in the blood stream.  Fluids and other supportive treatment is necessary.  Drugs that protect the stomach and intestines will also be administered.

These are just three of the many medications that are safe for humans but can be deadly to our canine companions.  Never give a dog medicine that a vet has not expressly prescribed for him.  That is the best way to protect your dog from drug poisoning.