In 2019, there were over 45,700 cases involving over-the-counter (OTC) medications reported in pets, encompassing nearly 7,000 products, and prescription medications represented 17.2% of all cases handled by the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC)​​. Nearly 50% of all calls received by the Pet Poison Helpline involve human medications, both OTC and prescription​​.

This blog aims to educate dog owners about the dangers of human medications for dogs. With a staggering number of incidents involving pets consuming human medications, it’s crucial to raise awareness about this critical issue.

Understanding the risks associated with human medications for dogs is essential for pet safety and well-being. Knowledge in this area can prevent accidents, ensure proper care in emergencies, and promote overall health for our canine companions.

Effects Of Human Medications On Dogs

Understanding the Risks of Human Medications On Dogs

Why Human Medications are Harmful to Dogs:

Human medications, including NSAIDs, acetaminophen, ADHD medications, and sleep medications, can have severe and sometimes fatal effects on dogs.

These medications can cause issues like;

  • gastrointestinal irritation
  • liver injury
  • seizures
  • cardiac
  • respiratory arrest
  • dangerously low blood pressure​​​​​​​

Dogs have different metabolic rates and may react unpredictably to human medications

. Administering human medicine without supervision or appropriate dosage can lead to drug toxicity, incorrect dosage, adverse drug reactions, allergic reactions, and more​​.

Differences in Physiology Between Humans and Dogs:

There are significant physiological differences between dogs and humans that affect how drugs are metabolized and used by the body.


This understanding is crucial for developing safe and effective treatments for diseases shared between the two species, such as cancer, diabetes, cognitive dysfunction, and inflammatory bowel disease​​.

Common Misconceptions about Human Medication Use in Dogs:

A common misconception is that some human medications are safe for dogs if administered in the correct dosage under a veterinarian’s recommendation.

However, due to the physiological differences between dogs and humans, this approach can be risky and should be approached with caution.

It is always best to consult a veterinarian before administering any human medication to a dog​​.

Recognizing Signs of Medication Poisoning in Dogs

Symptoms to Watch For:

The symptoms of poisoning in dogs vary depending on the substance and quantity ingested. Common signs include:

  • Diarrhea or blood in the stool.
  • Vomiting or loss of appetite.
  • Seizures or tremors.
  • Behavioral changes such as lethargy or hyperactivity.
  • Bruising or bleeding, especially in areas with little hair like the gums or inside the ear flaps.
  • Unusual findings in stool, which might indicate ingestion of specific poisons like rodenticides​​.

Importance of Early Detection and Quick Response:

It is crucial to recognize these symptoms early, as poisoning can cause immediate effects and long-term consequences like anemia or organ damage.


Not every case of diarrhea or vomiting indicates poisoning, but if there are multiple symptoms or any suspicion of poisoning, immediate action is vital. Quick response can significantly improve the prognosis for your dog.

The steps include staying calm, removing the dog from the poisonous substance, noting the situation and symptoms, contacting your veterinarian, and if possible, collecting any remaining poison or packaging​​.

Prevention Strategies

Tips for Safely Storing Medications Away from Pets:

Secure Medication Storage: Keep all medications, for both pets and humans, in a secure location, preferably in a locked cabinet. Remember that child-proof containers are not necessarily dog-proof. Pets can chew through plastic pill vials, boxes, and blister packages​​​​.

Store Medications in Original Containers: Ensure pet medications are kept in their original containers with clear, intact labels, making it easier to follow usage directions and identify the medication​​.

Separate Pet and Human Medications: Store pet medications separately from human medications to avoid mix-ups. This also applies to keeping medications for different pets separate to prevent confusion​​.

Prevent Accidental Access: Be mindful that areas you might consider out of reach, like countertops or shelves, may not be secure from pets, especially those that can jump or climb. Keep all medications in a place that is genuinely inaccessible to your pets​​.

Barn Safety: If you have a barn, keep horse and farm animal medications in secure locations. Ensure that your dog can’t access areas where these medications are administered or stored​​.

Alternative Treatments or Safe Medications for Dogs


Always consult your veterinarian for appropriate medication and dosage for your dog, based on their breed, size, and age​​.

Importance of Consulting with a Veterinarian:

Never administer human medication to a dog without veterinary supervision or recommendation. Doing so could result in drug toxicity, incorrect dosage, and adverse reactions.

Veterinarians can provide guidance on safe and effective treatments tailored to your dog’s specific needs​​​​.

These guidelines for recognizing signs of medication poisoning and implementing prevention strategies are vital for ensuring the health and safety of dogs.

Prompt recognition and response to symptoms, along with diligent prevention measures, are key to protecting our canine companions from the dangers of medication poisoning.

What to Do If Your Dog Ingests Human Medication


Immediate Steps to Take Following Accidental Ingestion:

Assess the Situation: The severity of the situation depends on the type and quantity of the drug ingested. While some medications may not cause harm in small amounts, others can be lethal even in tiny doses​​.

Contact Veterinary Professionals: Immediately contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline if your dog eats human medication. Time is of the essence in these situations, and professional guidance is crucial​​.

When and How to Seek Veterinary Care:

Immediate Care: Life-saving measures may be needed initially, such as inducing vomiting or washing to prevent further absorption of the poison. It’s important to follow the veterinarian’s instructions precisely, as the wrong intervention can worsen the situation​​.

Specific Treatments: Treatment may include specific antidotes if available, supportive treatment for symptoms like seizures, maintaining breathing, treating shock, and managing heart problems. The exact approach will depend on the poison and the dog’s condition​​​​.

Possible Treatments and Prognosis for Recovery:

The prognosis for recovery depends on the type of medication ingested, the amount, the promptness of treatment, and the dog’s overall health. Quick and appropriate veterinary intervention can significantly improve the chances of a full recovery.

Raising Awareness and Education


Role of Pet Owner Education in Preventing Medication-Related Incidents:

Awareness and education are critical tools in preventing pet poisoning. Understanding the common household items that are toxic to pets and knowing how to respond in an emergency are essential for keeping pets safe​​​​.

Resources for Further Learning and Support:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: Offers 24-hour support and a multitude of resources, including easy guides, infographics, and web articles to help protect pets from common household toxins​​.

Printable Pet Safety Materials: These materials, available for both veterinary staff and pet owners, provide essential information on pet safety and poison prevention​​.


Human medications can pose serious risks to dogs, with symptoms ranging from mild gastrointestinal issues to severe neurological problems and organ damage. Early recognition of poisoning symptoms and immediate action are crucial. Contacting a veterinarian or a poison control center should be the first step after suspected ingestion.

Preventive measures, such as safe storage of medications and educating pet owners, are key to reducing the risks of accidental ingestion.

Encourage readers to spread awareness about the dangers of human medications for dogs. Advocate for responsible pet ownership, including safe medication storage and seeking veterinary advice before administering any medication to pets. Sharing resources and information can significantly contribute to the safety and well-being of our furry companions.

FAQs on the Bad Effects of Human Medications on Dogs

What common human medications are most dangerous to dogs?

NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can cause gastrointestinal irritation and damage to the GI tract, kidney dysfunction, clotting problems, and liver disease in dogs​​.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol): This medication can cause liver injury and failure, lethargy, loss of appetite, belly pain, jaundice, and swelling in dogs​​.

ADHD Medications: Containing amphetamines, these can lead to tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature, and even cardiac and respiratory arrest​​.

Blood Pressure Medications: ACE inhibitors and beta blockers can result in weakness, stumbling, and dangerously low blood pressure​​.

Sleep Medications: Drugs like Xanax, Ambien, and Valium can make dogs lethargic, disoriented, or cause dangerously slowed breathing rates​​.

How can I tell if my dog has ingested human medication?

Signs of dog poisoning include diarrhea or blood in the stool, vomiting, loss of appetite, seizures or tremors, behavioral changes like lethargy or hyperactivity, and bruising or bleeding. Some symptoms, such as cardiac problems or liver failure, might not be noticeable without a veterinary examination​​.

What should I do if my dog eats human medication?

If your dog ingests human medication, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately. Do not delay seeking professional advice, as the type of medication and the amount ingested will dictate the necessary steps​​.

Can any human medications be safely given to dogs?

While some OTC human medications are prescribed by veterinarians for certain conditions, it’s never safe to assume it’s okay to use any medication without a vet’s advice.

For example, artificial tears can be used for dogs with dry eyes, but they aren’t useful for all eye conditions.

Common pain medications prescribed by vets for dogs include canine-approved NSAIDs, gabapentin, and opioids like tramadol.

Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) are also sometimes prescribed for allergies in dogs, but always under veterinary guidance​​​​​​​​.

How can I prevent my dog from accessing medications?

Store all medications in secure locations, out of reach of pets. Keep medications in their original containers with intact labels. Remember that areas you consider out of reach may not be secure enough for pets.

Securely dispose of expired, unused, or unwanted medications to prevent pets from accessing them in the trash. Special care should be taken with flavored pet medications and those for farm animals, as these can be attractive to dogs​​.

Doctor Xeeshan

Doctor Xeeshan

I am Doctor Xeeshan, located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. In this blog, I am providing authentic information about dog breeds, diseases, medications, etc.

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