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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Poisoning, Drug View In Cats

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Unintentional overdose with veterinary medications and accidental ingestion of both human and veterinary pills are the most common causes of poisoning in pets. Veterinary products in particular, are often flavored to encourage a dog to take them, and will be eagerly consumed if they are found.


Symptoms develop quickly and include abdominal pain, salivation, vomiting, and weakness.


Many people give over the counter medications to their pets without veterinary approval, to treat a variety of symptoms. Unfortunately, medicines that work for humans do not always work for pets. Drugs given to pets in human dosages are often toxic, and some cannot be given at all.

Common pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) ans acetaminophen (Tylenol) are a particular problem. Dogs and cats do not have the necessary enzymes to detoxify and eliminate these drugs. This can lead to the accumulation of dangerous substances in the animal that are left behind when the drugs are metabolized. As few as 2 Tylenol tablets can produce severe organ damage in a medium sized dog.

Other human drugs that cause a variety of toxic effects and are commonly involved in accidental poisonings include antihistamines, sleeping pills, diet pills, heart pills, blood pressure pills, and vitamins.


Preliminary diagnosis can be made by examining symptoms with specific diagnosis delivered upon veterinary examination.


If you suspect you pet has swallowed any drug, immediately induce vomiting. To induce vomiting to prevent poison absorption give the dog hydrogen peroxide. A 3% solution is most effective. Give 1 teaspoon (5ml) per 10 pounds (4.5kg) of body weight. Repeat every 15 - 20 minutes, up to 3 times, until the dog vomits. Walking the dog after each dose may help stimulate vomiting.

Call your veterinarian for further instructions. A specific antidote may be available for the drug in question.


Accidental poisoning can be prevented by always consulting your veterinarian before administering any medication. Follow instructions exactly for frequency and dosage. Store all drugs in a secure place to prevent inadvertent consumption by pets and children. Never assume that a human drug is safe for pets.


Contact your veterinarian for detailed instructions or call on of the poison hotlines listed below:

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 (fee)
  • Angell Animal Poison Control Hotline 1-877-226-4355
  • Animal Poison Hotline operated by the North Shore Animal League and PROSAR International Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-232-8870

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