Although humans and some animals share several similarities when it comes to empathy, behavior and social interaction; we have to acknowledge that our bodies are different, therefore, metabolism works differently for each species.  Without even getting to elaborated mixtures of compounds, humans and pets cannot eat the same food, for example, onions and garlic are very poisoning to dogs and cats.

When it comes to over-the-counter drugs, the majority of them has never been tested on animals, and it is known that some of them could be extremely toxic to cats and dogs. Sometimes, particular drugs can ameliorate a condition in different species, however, the dose of the compound changes depending on the animal that receives it. You should discuss with your pet´s veterinarian all the medicines that you provide to your pet, especially if the medicine is not meant to be for that particular species (like Over-The-Counter medicine).

Allergy Medications (OTC)

Several allergy OTC medications are antihistamines, meaning that they block and prevent the action of a substance called histamine. When an allergic reaction starts, a specific group of cells releases histamine, the substance that is mainly responsible for the signs of allergic reactions. Among those signs we can mention: difficulty breathing, itching, hives, and swelling. The antihistamines in medications tend to be combined with different ingredients in several over-the-counter allergy, cold, and sinus medications. Some of the antihistamines that are often seen include loratadine, promethazine, chlorpheniramine, meclizine, and diphenhydramine.

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl). This is a common OTC medication; it can be very useful to treat allergies, itchy skin and bug bites both in dogs and cats.

When the dose of antihistamines such as diphenhydramine is inappropriate, the consequences could include intoxication in your pet.  There are several doses that could be related to antihistamine toxicity, and depending on the dose, they could appear in different timelines. Among those signs, we can mention: depression, rapid breathing, lack of coordination, fever, rapid heartbeat, drooling, seizures, hyperactivity, gastrointestinal upset, and tremors. If your pet has been bitten by some other animal or if any other allergic reaction has started, you should ask your veterinarian for the best dose of antihistamine for him/her.

OTC Pain Analgesics

The majority of OTC analgesics are Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This type of medication blocks some enzymes in the body, which decreases pain and swelling.  But also, these enzymes are responsible for other body-functions, for example, preventing the increase of acidity in the stomach. Therefore, NSAIDs can cause several gastric issues, which could become a gastric ulcer. All the NSAIDs that are designed for humans should not be given to pets unless the veterinarian advises the opposite. There are NSAIDs designed only for dogs and cats in the market, for this reason, if your pet is ever in pain or has inflammation, your veterinarian will surely prescribe an NSAID special for your little friend.

  • Aspirin: In some cases, veterinarians suggest this type of medicine to help with pain and decrease swelling in dogs, but it should never be used in cats. Just like some other anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin could be the cause of gastric issues and damage.
  • Acetaminophen (Paracetamol): This is a common ingredient in different pain medications and it has an active roll in them, for example, in Tylenol. This medication is extremely toxic for dogs and cats and could result in very severe hepatic damage. Acetaminophen is forbidden for pets, you should never provide this medicine for your dog or cat.
  • Ibuprofen: Just like Acetaminophen, this OTC medication could cause severe damage in your pet due to its high level of toxicity in dogs and cats. Some of its commercial names include Motrin, Midol, and Advil; remember to avoid them at all cost for your pet.