Animal experts recommend giving your dog medications that are produced exclusively for pets. Some human medications are safe for dogs and usually have no side effects. However, before you give your dog any human medicine, you should always consult your veterinarian. Different factors can determine whether human medications that are deemed safe for dogs may not actually be safe. The considerations to take into account are:
- Overall health
- Dog’s age
A dog should never be given a medication that’s not specifically for canines unless you discuss the medication and your dog’s condition with your veterinarian. Your vet may prescribe a similar medication that’s intended for dogs. Another issue with human medications is that the label directions are intended for human use only. The only professional advice you should take when it comes to giving your dog a human medication should come from your veterinarian.
Medications That Aren’t Safe For Dogs
There are human medicines on the market that aren’t safe for dogs under any circumstances. Due to the differences in human and canine bodies, a dog’s body can’t break down certain chemicals in medications. One medication that contains these chemicals is acetaminophen which is extremely toxic. The chemicals in this medication will attach to a dog’s liver and destroy it. The rule should always be don’t attempt to figure out a dosage based on what the label indicates. The directions are intended for human use. Always check with your veterinarian.
Safest Human Medications For Your Pup
Benadryl is one of the most prevalent human medications used for dogs. Benadryl is used to treat signs of anxiety in dogs during travel, allergies, and motion sickness. However, cases of diphenhydramine poisoning in dogs have been reported. If your dog is experiencing any of these conditions, the best course is to consult your veterinarian. The vet can determine if the medication is safe based on any medical conditions and the correct Benadryl dosage for dogs. When giving your dog Benadryl, you should call your veterinarian immediately if your dog experiences any of these conditions:
- Decreased appetite
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite
- Urine retention
Agitation, rapid heartbeat, respiratory problems, seizures, and dilated pupils can be severe side effects. If your dog develops any of these problems, you should go to an emergency vet immediately.
Buffered aspirin is recommended by some veterinarians for pain from arthritis. However, studies have shown some dogs have side effects from aspirin and should only be used on rare occasions. Most veterinarians prescribe dog-specific NSAIDs or other prescription medications, including:
- Novox or Rimadyl
If your vet does prescribe buffered aspirin, make sure it only contains aspirin and no additional ingredients. Acetaminophen causes internal bleeding and kidney damage.
Claritin is an allergy medication that can treat allergy symptoms in dogs, alleviate inflammation caused by mast cell tumors, and reduce vaccination side effects. In vitro and in vivo studies found Claritin effective for different medical conditions. Before using Claritin (see also Loratadine for dogs) you should consult your veterinarian. Side effects of Claritin may include:
- Increased thirst
- Retaining urine
It’s vital never to give Claritin to a pregnant dog. Claritin-D should never be given to dogs under any circumstances. Claritin-D contains pseudoephedrine which is lethal even in small amounts.
Dramamine is often prescribed by veterinarians for dogs that have anxiety issues during travel or experience motion sickness. Your veterinarian must prescribe the correct dosage for your dog. Serious side effects can result, including:
- Appetite loss
- Dry mouth
- Urinary difficulty
Signs of a Dramamine overdose include coma, lethargy, seizures, and respiratory problems. If you prefer, there are alternatives to Benadryl anxiety medications, anxiety vests, herbal treatments, and behavioral conditioning.
Gas-X is a human treatment for relief from excess gas. However, it should never be given to a pet without first consulting your veterinarian. Besides getting veterinary authorization to use Gas-X for your dog. You must find out the cause of the problem. Your dog may have ingested something that could be harmful. The problem may be caused by an infection, or it could be dietary. Your veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet  or a change in dog food. If your veterinarian prescribes simethicone on a short-term basis, you must follow the directions to the letter. Long-term use of Gas-X can alter a dog’s ph levels in the gastrointestinal tract and cause bacterial infections.
Can you put hydrocortisone on a dog? Yes, hydrocortisone cream can be used topically in tiny amounts for dogs with itchy skin. However, know that hydrocortisone is toxic to dogs and should never be used where the dog can lick the cream. You should use an E-collar on your dog when you apply hydrocortisone cream. Many over-the-counter anti-itch creams contain the same ingredients and can’t safely be used for dogs. The best way to treat itchy or irritated skin is to use an anti-itch cream formulated for dogs. These creams don’t contain the toxic ingredients found in many human-grade medications. Side effects from hydrocortisone may include weakness, changes in behavior, or nausea. If your dog experiences any side effects, you should go to the emergency vet immediately.
Can I give my dog Imodium for diarrhea? Imodium is considered safe for dogs but should only be used under the supervision of your veterinarian. Some dogs can take Imodium without any adverse effects. However, it can cause side effects in some dogs. One study concluded that the Collie breed gets poisoning from Imodium. If dogs carry the MRD1 gene mutation, have health problems, ingest a toxin, or have diarrhea from an infection. Imodium may cause:
- A severe case of sedation
When a dog has diarrhea, it’s best to consult a veterinarian about alternative treatment options.
Lomotil is a human remedy for diarrhea. Atropine is also used for dogs and cats for relief from colitis and diarrhea. Lomotil has the ability to slow down the digestive tract allowing the system to absorb liquids. Lomotil can also reduce secretions from the intestinal tract. In some cases, Lomotil can reduce coughing spells. Your veterinarian should determine the dose of Lomotil for your dog based on the pet’s age, breed, size, and reason for prescribing the medication.
Pepcid-AC is a treatment for dogs with intestinal or gastric ulcers. Famotidine works by suppressing stomach acid secretions, for the ulcer can heal effectively. Famotidine for dogs with kidney failure is used to reduce inflammation in the stomach. The medication can be effective in treating acid reflux and suppressing the secretion of histamines in mast cell tumors. Although famotidine is considered one of the safer human medications for dogs, it’s not as effective when used for long periods. Pepcid-AC can interact with other drugs and cause side effects, including collapse, rapid heart rate, vomiting, pale gums, and restlessness.
Can I give my dog Pepto Bismol? This medication falls under the same restrictions or guidelines as Imodium. Pepto Bismol is safe for dogs under the supervision of a veterinarian and only for specific health issues. When a dog has diarrhea, it’s best to use a medication formulated for dogs. If you only have Pepto Bismol, you should talk to your veterinarian before giving it to your dog. A veterinarian can determine if the medication is safe for your dog and prescribe the correct dosage. An important point is if your dog needs an x-ray before the medication has passed out of his system, it could be mistaken for a metallic object in the intestinal tract.
Prednisone may be effective in treating dogs with:
- Addison’s disease
- Autoimmune disease
Prednisone is only available by veterinary prescription. Dogs placed on this medication must be monitored carefully for side effects. Problems similar to corticosteroid treatments can arise. Prednisone should always be administered to a dog exactly as the veterinarian prescribes. Owners should monitor their dogs carefully for signs of any side effects. Problems arising from prednisone may include:
- Upset stomach
Prednisone can cause serious problems with dogs that have any of the following conditions:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Stomach ulcers
Prilosec is safe for dogs with excess stomach acid or ulcers only if your veterinarian has prescribed the medication and has provided strict dosage instructions. Some canine studies have indicated that Prilosec is more effective than Cimetidine. Prilosec has never been approved for veterinary use, but studies have found it to be effective. Even though omeprazole is considered safe for dogs, it should never be given unless a vet prescribes it. Prilosec can mask other medical conditions that could potentially be dangerous. Omeprazole can cause drug interactions with some medications. Your dog should be carefully monitored while taking this medication.
Cimetidine is a drug used in veterinary medicine for relief from esophagitis, acid reflux, and gastritis. Cimetidine has been found to be effective in the treatment of mast cell tumors. Cimetidine is considered to be safe for most dogs. However, you should always consult your veterinarian before using it because it can interact with other medications. Cimetidine can cause problems for dogs with blood disorders and senior dogs. When used under the supervision of a veterinarian, Cimetidine usually doesn’t cause side effects. You must strictly follow the dosage. An overdose of this medication may cause respiratory failure and tachycardia.
Zantac is one of the human medications on the list that’s a histamine blocker. Ranitidine is used on dogs, cats, and horses under veterinary supervision and is sometimes effective in reducing canine stomach acid in cases where dogs have acid reflux. The antacid/antihistamine is used to alleviate stomach acid in cases of dogs with stomach ulcers. Caution should be used when administering ranitidine to dogs since it can cause complications in dogs with liver or kidney disease. Ranitidine should never be given with food because it’s not as effective. Complications can result if you give your dog ranitidine with other medications. Most dogs don’t experience side effects from ranitidine, but you should get emergency veterinary care immediately if you notice these symptoms:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Swelling of the face, tongue, or lips
- Difficulty breathing
Can I give my dog Zyrtec? This is a widespread human allergy medicine and is used for chronic canine dermatitis. Zyrtec is sometimes used as an alternative to Benadryl for dogs that can’t handle it. Chronic itching from hot spots can be relieved with Zyrtec. Although some human medications haven’t been tested for canine use, Zyrtec has gone through tests and found it to be safe and effective. Zyrtec should never be given to dogs with compromised function of the kidneys. Senior dogs should only be given Zyrtec under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.
1. Can I give my dog human antibiotics?
Amoxycillin, Cephalexin, Ciprofloxacin, Clavamox, Penicillin, and Tetracycline are all human antibiotics that dogs can take. However, dosages for dogs are different than those for humans. Some of these antibiotics can be purchased online. You should check with your veterinarian to determine if the antibiotic is safe and learn about the proper dosage.
2. Can dogs have Tylenol or ibuprofen?
Dogs should never be given Tylenol or ibuprofen. The ingredients are toxic to dogs. Your veterinarian can prescribe nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAID) for dogs like Rimadyl or Novox.
3. What medicine can you give a dog for an upset stomach?
Tagamet (cimetidine), Pepcid-AC (famotidine), or Zantac (ranitidine) can be given to dogs with upset stomach.
4. Can I give paracetamol to my dog?
Dogs should never be given paracetamol even in small doses. This medication is toxic and may be fatal to dogs.