I have heard so many times about people giving human medications at home to treat their pets. Some of these medications are ok to give. Others are not! Where people go wrong, however, is the dosage on the medications that are ok to give at home. We have such a wide variety of weights with our pets that it is very important to figure out the dose they need depending on the weight. This list will have most of the products at home that can be given to pets to try and help them feel better until you can bring them in to be checked. Some of the medications will have another name in parenthesis. This other name is the generic name. It is fine to give either at the same dosage.
1) Aspirin (Acetylsalicylic acid)
This is probably the most common drug given at home. This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory(NSAID) used to treat pain caused by inflammation. It can also be used for platelet disorders. Using Aspirin in cats is NOT recommended without first speaking with a veterinarian. NSAIDs can be very risky in cats and can have a dramatic affect on the kidneys. Using Aspirin in dogs IS ok, as long as it is no longer than 2 days. If you feel the need to use it longer, contact your veterinarian to make sure it is ok. The dose to give is going to be about 4.5mg/pound every 12 hours. So, if your dog is about 20 pounds, they can take about 90mg by mouth every 12 hours. A 40 pound dog would need about (4.5*40=180) 180mgs. So you can half a 325mg tablet and give that half every 12 hours. The most important thing is to ALWAYS look on the bottle to see how many “mgs” there are per tablet. Aspirin can vary from 81mg/tablet to as much as 800mg/tablet! These treatments are going to be for mild pain. If the pet is still walking around, eating and acting normal, then you can try the aspirin. If the pet does not want to move and/or eat, then a trip to the veterinarian will be better than the aspirin alone.
2) Benadryl (Diphenhydramine HCL)
Benadryl can sometimes be used for treatment of allergies in dogs and cats. Sometimes it will help to control the itching. If you try it for a few days and see no improvement, then it will be time to see the vet. It can cause a mild sedation or it can excite your pet. So, first try it during a time you can watch your pet for a couple hours to see the response. If your pet gets car sick, you can also try some Benadryl about 30 minutes before the car ride. If this doesn’t help, your vet will have other medications to help with the motion sickness. The dose for Benadryl will be about 1mg/pound by mouth every 8 hours. For a 25 pound dog, you can give 1 adult capsule (25mg) every 8 hours as needed. If you have a 70 pound dog, 2-3 adult capsules can be given. Children’s Benadryl is typically going to be 12.5mg/teaspoon. This is going to work better for the smaller dogs that are under 25 pounds. If the itching or allergies persist, give your vet a call to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.
3) Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth subsalicylate)
Diarrhea!! If your pet is having some watery diarrhea and you can’t make it in to see your vet, some Pepto-Bismol could help until you can be seen. This product can help with your dog’s diarrhea, but it is not recommended for cats! They can have a toxicity from it. If your cat is the one with some loose stool, some non-flavored yogurt may help. Just a tablespoon full will be good enough. The dose for use in dogs is going to be 5-10 mg/pound of Pepto-Bismol. There is a wide variety of concentrations of Pepto-Bismol out there so pay close attention to which you are using. Regular strength has 525mg/30ml(2tablespoons) or 17.5mg/ml. The Max strength has 1050mg/30ml(2tablespoons) or 35mg/ml. A 10 pound dog could get between 50-100mg of Pepto, or 5ml(teaspoon) of Regular Pepto which is 87.5mg. That would only be 2.5ml of the Max strength Pepto. You can give your dog a TEASPOON/10pounds of REGULAR Pepto or a TEASPOON/20pounds of MAX STRENGTH Pepto. This can be give by mouth every 6-8 hours. If the diarrhea persists for 48 hours, an appointment needs to be made with your veterinarian.
4) Hydrogen Peroxide 3%
This medication is commonly used in people to help clean wounds. Believe it or not, it can also be used as a mouth wash for people!! ew. It can help some with cleaning very superficial wounds but if it gets deep into the tissues and can actually kill healthy cells. It is also great at cleaning blood of fur. The main reason I want to speak about it here is for its use in making your pet vomit. If you catch your dog or cat eating something like rat poison or baker’s chocolate, we will want you to try and make your animal vomit up the poison before it is absorbed. If you feel your pet has eaten an object like a tennis ball, then trying to make them vomit is not a good idea. If the object barely got down the patients throat, making them vomit could do more damage on the way back up! In order to make your pet vomit up a poison they ate, give them about 1-2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide by mouth every 15 minutes until they vomit. If you can not get them to vomit within 30 minutes, I would recommend taking them to see a veterinarian for some stronger medications to induce vomiting.
5) Canned Pumpkin
Have you ever felt like your dog or cat is stopped up and doesn’t have a normal bowl movement? Well some canned pumpkin can help to get things moving. Now, we need to first figure out if the pet is truly constipated or if they are having diarrhea. When a pet first has diarrhea it is usually obvious with watery stool. But once they empty their colon, they may still have the urge to go but nothing is left to come out. The only way to tell this is by walking around and seeing if you can find any evidence of loose stool in the yard or litter box. If you are seeing diarrhea and can’t get to the vet, then try the Pepto listed above. If you can’t find any evidence of diarrhea, then try the canned pumpkin and see how the pet responds. For your dog, try 2-3 teaspoons by mouth every 8-12 hours. For your cat, try 1-2 teaspoons by mouth every 8-12 hours. If the pet is still straining in 24 hours, having a vet check them out would be best to see what’s occurring.
6) Tylenol (Acetaminophen) and IBuprofen
NO! NO FOR BOTH DOGS AND CATS! These medication can cause serious gastric ulcers and even death in cats. Please do not use these!
This is the general explanation for when and how to use these medications. Here is a file for you to download so you can print it off and hang it on the fridge in case you want a quick reference.