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Over-the-counter medications may be great to help us treat our daily aches, pains and illnesses. Unfortunately, many of these medications can be dangerous—even deadly—to our pets. The doctors at Newtown Veterinary Specialists strongly advise you to NEVER give any medication to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian. Because many of the medications we take every day can be harmful to pets we offer some examples and helpful advice:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol): At certain doses acetaminophen can cause ulceration of the intestines, liver damage and kidney damage.  Other life-threatening changes include damage to the red blood cells, which makes them unable to transport oxygen appropriately. This is very dangerous!
  • Salicylates (aspirin): Aspirin alone or as an ingredient in other medications can cause intestinal bleeding, especially if given with other medications. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and anemia (low red blood cell count).  At high doses aspirin can affect the central nervous system resulting in respiratory changes and organ failure.
  • Antidepressant medications: Cyclic antidepressants (elvail, sinequan, tofranil, trimipramine, etc.) and Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (fluoxitine, sertraline, cialopram, etc.) are becoming more commonly available.  These medications also pose a threat to pets. Cyclic antidepressant medications can cause fever, vomiting/nausea, lethargy, elevated heart rate (tachycardia) as well as effects on the central nervous system leading to coma or seizures.   Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors can cause tremors, diarrhea, elevated body temperature and diarrhea.  More severe cases can lead to arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats), respiratory distress, damage to muscles and kidney failure.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS): These over-the-counter drugs are hazardous to our companion animals, especially if they’re taking other medications. NSAIDS can lead to ulceration of the intestinal tract as well as damage to the liver and kidneys.

These are just a few of the common medications that can be deadly to our pets. We can’t stress it strongly enough: NEVER give ANY medication to any animal without first consulting your veterinarian.

The staff at Newtown Veterinary Specialists is available 24-hours-a-day at 203-270-VETS (8387) to assist you in any pet emergency. If your pet accidentally ingests any over-the-counter or prescription medications seek veterinary attention immediately and contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control at

1-888-426-4435.

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