Are Over-The-Counter Medications Safe for My Dog? | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

Are Over-The-Counter Medications Safe for My Dog?

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
5 months ago

When your dog is sick most pet parents will do everything they can to help their furry friend feel better.

If you don’t have medication on hand though, what other options do you have as a pet parent? Reaching for your medicine cabinet, in many cases, might be hurting your dog more than helping.

Dogs are very different from humans, which means not all over-the-counter medicines are safe for your dog.

Let’s break down which over-the-counter medications are safe and which ones you should stay away from at all costs when giving to your dog.

Not All Medicines Are Safe 

The short answer is that some over-the-counter medicines are safe for your dog. However, more than usual the answer will be no – over the counter medications are not safe for your furry friend.

“In fact, inadvertent overdosage of a human medication is one of the top reasons people call the Pet Poison Control Hotline,” reads a petMD article.

It might seem easier to toss your dog a pill from the cabinet rather than going to the vet and dealing with potentially expensive bills, but by giving your dog the wrong pill, you could create much more expensive medical bills (plus a lot of heartache) down the line.

Here’s an abbreviated list of which over-the-counter medications are safe and which ones you should stay away from.

Remember, always ask your vet before giving your dog any medication!

Every dog’s medical history is different, and even “safe” medicines might not be right for your dog specifically. Also, keep in mind that the dosage for a dog won’t be the same as the dosage for an adult human.

ALWAYS consult a vet prior to giving your pet any type of medication.

Safe Medications (With Vet Approval)

Allergy medications. In general, antihistamines — medications that relieve allergy symptoms, such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl — are safe for dogs (although they might cause hyperactivity or drowsiness).

Just make sure to look at the label and note whether the allergy medication contains only antihistamines; if the medicine has other ingredients, such as decongestants, it may not be safe for dogs.

For dosage, Canine Journal recommends one milligram for every pound given twice daily. 

Gastrointestinal medications. Most gastrointestinal medicines are safe for dogs. 

Pepto-Bismal can treat vomiting, diarrhea, and an upset stomach (but check with your vet if your dog throws up the medication, and never give Pepto-Bismal to cats).

One dose of Imodium is a method of relieving diarrhea for many breeds of dog (and cats too); just call your vet if diarrhea continues after 24 hours.

Imodium is not safe for Collies or related breeds — such as Shelties, Australian Shepherds, and long-haired Whippets.

There are other gastrointestinal medications that are safe for dogs, too.

Zantac, Tagamet, and Pepcid-AC can all be administered twice a day to treat heartburn or stomach ulcers.

And finally, although Dramamine (which prevents motion sickness) is safe for dogs, it’s best to choose another option that’s tailor-made for dogs.

Hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean skin wounds.

If your dog has eaten something toxic and your vet advises you to induce vomiting, you can give your dog a small dose of hydrogen peroxide. Always call Pet Poison Control and your vet prior to giving you pup anything for eating something toxic.

Eye drops. Over-the-counter eye drops can be ok to use as long as the drops are lubricating only (not medicated).

Eye drops can provide a temporary solution if your dog is blinking or squinting a lot. If the drops still don’t help your dog’s eyes improve schedule an appointment with your vet.

Nasal sprays. Pediatric or saline nasal sprays are safe for your dog if he or she is congested. Steer clear of any other type of over-the-counter nasal medicine, though. 

ALWAYS consult a vet prior to giving your pet any type of medication

Unsafe Medications  

Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Human-grade NSAID medications (like aspirin) and products that contain acetaminophen are never safe for dogs.

There could be an increased risk of bleeding — or worst case, the medicine could prove fatal. (Tylenol isn’t good for cats, either. Just one pill can result in death.)

Buffered aspirin is safer but still not recommended by vets.

The bottom line is to never give your dog aspirin. Giving your dog Tylenol might cause liver and kidney damage, while NSAID medicines can result in gastrointestinal bleeding.

Ask your vet for a canine pain medication instead.

Cold and cough medicine. Since most over-the-counter cold medications have decongestants, they aren’t safe for dogs.

Like any other medication, check with your vet before giving your dog a cough medicine.

This is especially important with a cough because, in dogs, a cough is not always just a cough; instead, it’s often a symptom of a bigger problem such as heartworms or cardiac disease, where cough medicine won’t help. 

Keep Your Pet Safe Year-Round

PetFirst is here for every canine (and cat!) sickness, from a small cold to big problems alike. Let us give you a free quote today.

As a pet parent, you can find the best coverage for your furry friend with PetFirst and our various options that can fit your families needs.

Pet insurance provides peace of mind that if your pet gets sick or injured you don’t have to think twice about the financial aspect and you can just focus on your pet’s care.

You can get a quote today by visiting our website or by calling our team at 855-270-7387 (option 1). 

| ALWAYS consult a vet prior to giving your pet any type of medication |

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