Written by Dr. Sarah Martin
If your pet is a cat then the answer is pretty much, NO! Tylenol will kill cats. Other human medications are either dangerous or in way too big of a dose to give your cat. Please, never, ever give your cat human medication unless you have consulted with your veterinarian. There are some human medications we will use in cats. For example, in our cats dealing with kidney compromise we often use Pepcid, an antacid, on a daily basis – but not a full tablet. For most cats we would give a ¼ to a ½ tablet once a day. Our cats that have heart issues are on human beta blockers, but again we are talking ¼ of tablet sized doses.
If your pet is a dog then the answer is sometimes. Dogs can have medications like Benadryl, Reactine, Gravol, and Pepcid. Often dog owners ask us about aspirin, Tylenol and Advil. We NEVER give dogs Advil. Tylenol may be useful in addition to another medications but needs to be used with caution, Tylenol can cause severe liver issues. Aspirin can be given, is fairly safe but the problem is it does not work that well. There are newer forms of this class of drug that work so much better and are so much safer.
Medications like Benadryl or Reactine can be given for itchiness, hives, or bug bit reactions. Gravol can be used to help dogs that get car sick. Pepcid is useful is dogs that have been vomiting and are being fasted and slowly re-introduced to a modified feeding schedule. Pepcid can also be helpful given in the evening with a treat to help dogs that vomit on an empty stomach in the early mornings.
Some medications are metabolized differently by dogs. For example, we cannot use many anti-seizure medications in dogs because they do not last as long in their bodies. We do not have great data on how slow release human medications work in dogs. If it is a liquid based medication always read the label very carefully- xylitol (an artificial sweetener) is toxic to dogs. Xylitol causes very low blood sugar (to the point of seizures) and in higher doses liver failure.
Nutraceuticals can often be helpful – for skin disease, kidney disease and arthritis. High doses of Omega Fatty acids have been proven beneficial for all of the diseases mentioned. We usually use a dose of 180 mg of EPA (a specific omega 3) per 5 kg per day. There are veterinary formulations but if you read the labels carefully a good health food store may be able to help you out. Many families also put their pet on glucosamine (with or without chondroitin and/or MSM). This may benefit some dogs, but there is more data on the efficacy of high doses of omega 3 supplementation.
There are many different medication available but the most important things is to check with your veterinarian before starting a medication. If your pet is on other medications, sometimes they can interfere with each other and cause adverse side effects. Always know that we are here to help with your pet’s health care needs.