"Dogs' and cats' metabolisms are different from ours, so they can't always process the same drugs we can," explains Silene Young, a former emergency room veterinarian who works for Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) in Brea, Calif.
Just one extra-strength Tylenol, for example, can kill a cat. And the anti-cancer topical treatment, Fluorouracil, can be fatal in dogs, even in the tiniest doses ingested -- say, from chewing on the discarded cotton swabs used to apply the cream, according to veterinary toxicologists.
Medication mix-ups cause unintentional poisonings too. By grabbing the wrong bottle, some owners inadvertently give their pet medication that's really meant for them or other humans.
Keeping animal and human medications in separate drawers or cabinets is the simplest way to prevent those types of mishaps from occurring.
It's also a good idea, veterinarians say, for owners to take their medication in the bathroom with the door shut. That way, if a pill drops on the floor, they have time to retrieve it before the dog does.
Luckily, a good portion of pet poisoning cases are treatable at home if caught right away, says the DeClementi. The center runs a 24-7 hotline staffed by veterinary toxicologists who give diagnostic and treatment recommendations for poison-related emergencies in animals.
And if a trip to the veterinary hospital is warranted, you'd better take along your credit card. Treating a pet that has ingested a human medication costs owners, on average, $791 before insurance reimbursement, according to VPI.
As for Otis, the Great Dane, he pulled through just fine after three days of intravenous fluids and close monitoring by veterinarians.
The sheer number of pills he gobbled -- at least 35 -- could have caused gastric ulcers or kidney failure, both of which can cause death.
Quick action taken by his owner, though, saved the young dog's life and stopped internal damage from d
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