Pet Dangers Hidden in the Medicine Cabinet

You know the old saying, “some of the most dangerous things are found under your kitchen sink?” Well the same can be said about your medicine cabinet, especially when it comes to your pets. Human medications can be left out in plain sight and an easy reach for any curious pet looking for a toy or snack. But these medications that are super helpful for humans can be the complete opposite for pets. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be extremely harmful to your pet’s health if they accidently get into their owner’s bottles. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, “almost half of the calls we receive, involve human medications.” Just in case pet owners are not aware of just how serious this can be, here are some of’s examples of human medications that are poisonous to pets.
1. NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). The most frequent medications that are ingested by pets are NSAIDs. More commonly known as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (e.g., Aleve), these everyday pain medications are safe and effective for people, but very dangerous for pets. Kidney failure and major stomach problems like intestinal ulcers may occur if eaten by pets.


2. Acetaminophen. Another common over-the-counter pain medication is acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol). A safe human drug, acetaminophen can do some serious damage to pets. In dogs, it can lead to liver failure, and in cats it can attack their red blood cells, which is especially dangerous. This can lead to breathing troubles and eventually an inability to hold oxygen.

3. ADD and ADHD medications. Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medications (e.g., Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin) can be life-threatening for pets. Small doses of these medications can cause tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures, and heart problems in pets.

4. Antidepressants. Although medications like Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, and Lexapro are occasionally used in treating pets, overdosing can lead to many neurological problems like sedation and seizures. They can also lead to an elevated heart rate and blood pressure if the proper dosage is not used. It is important to remember that if your pet is prescribed an antidepressant, to always follow the instructions given by your vet.

5. Benzodiazepines and sleep aids. Anxiety and sleeping pills (e.g., Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta) can be very helpful to people who need them. But oddly enough, these pills will have an opposite effect in pets. Agitation, incoordination, and severe lethargy can be the result of a pet ingesting one of these pills, and can also cause liver failure in cats.

For more information and safety tips about poison control for your pets, please take a look at They also have information on what to do if your pet does in fact get into some of your medications. There is nothing more valuable than your pet’s well being, so take all the necessary precautions to ensure they stay happy and healthy.

We are pleased to have Vin, as a contributing writer for If They Could Talk. Vin is a passionate dog owner. We look forward to sharing his contribution on interesting and educational pet topics.