Prescription Drug Overdose
Schnapps, our six-year-old Weimaraner, gave us an awful scare last week. She takes phenobarbital for epilepsy and somehow got into a full bottle and ate a lot of pills. We weren’t sure what the pills would do to her and delayed calling the veterinarian. He said we almost waited too long and that we came close to losing Schnapps. Would you please alert everyone about the dangers of prescriptions and give us pointers on how to prevent these kinds of problems?
Your experience happens all too frequently. Sometimes people don’t realize that the medications we give our pets can be deadly if overdosed. Pets, like children, get into trouble because they either are attracted to the good taste of medicines or, more likely, they are just curious.
There are a number of precautionary steps we can take to avoid problems.
- Discuss the prescription with the veterinarian before you take it home. He or she can tell you if an overdose will cause relatively minor diarrhea or serious problems.
- Throw out any leftover pills. They can be a problem waiting to happen and they can lose their potency.
- Keep all medications in a cabinet out of reach of pets and children
- Cap prescription bottles with childproof lids. Remember, children also can get into grave problems with pet pills just as pets can encounter problems with people pills. Aspirin, for example, is much more toxic to dogs and cats than to humans.
If you have even a slight suspicion that your pet has been into medicine
or anything toxic, call your veterinarian, pharmacist, or poison center
as soon as possible. They can tell you what corrective steps to
take, whether to make the animal vomit or give it something that will
help the toxin pass through the intestinal tract. Almost any prescription
which your dog may have overdosed on can be treated by inducing vomiting. Drinking
a tablespoon or two of hydrogen peroxide usually does the trick.
Caustic materials such as toilet bowl cleaners should not be vomited but made to pass through the digestive system. Your veterinarian probably will recommend activated charcoal or milk to prevent absorption. Mashed potatoes or bread might be prescribed if the animal swallowed glass or an object that would get stuck or irritate the intestinal tract.