Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) is the most common human medication ingested by pets in the USA. There are probably two main reasons:
It is one of the most common human pain killers. There are a lot of pills lying around and…
Some brands of Ibuprofen have a sweet outer coating. This must make the pill more palatable to humans. This is unfortunate….
The sweet outer coating also makes it more palatable for cats although cats can’t taste sweetness. Perhaps cats on dry cat food which is high in carbohydrates find an Ibuprofen pill similar to a dry food pellet. I don’t know but the AVMA (American vet’s association) state: “think ‘M&M’ but a potentially deadly one”. They are like cat sweets.
Incidentally another pill which cats find nice tasting is Venlafaxine (an antidepressant for people). I think cat owners need to be particularly vigilant with this drug and Ibuprofen.
Ibuprofen can cause kidney failure and stomach ulcers. Kidney failure can be fatal and certainly shorten lifespan. An overdose for humans of this drug causes similar illnesses.
We don’t know how many human pills kill or harm pets but I’d bet it is quite a large number. It is easy to become careless with pills; one falls to the floor and under a sofa and disappears, for instance. It is just a question of taking proactive, preventative steps. There is no excuse for inadvertently poisoning one’s cat. This also applies to prescribing painkillers for your cat without first consulting with a vet. It is too dangerous to do that. A cat owner cannot make presumptions about dosage.
The complete list of top ten ‘people pills’, for the USA, which hurt and/or kill cats are in order of frequency based on notifications to ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC):
- Tramadol – this is also prescribed for pets.
- Alprazolam – an anti-anxiety med. Apparently these pills are ingested by pets when their caretaker puts the pill(s) on the nightstand to remember to take them.
- Adderail® – this is for human ADHD. It stimulates pets causing a high heart rate and body temperature. Tremors and seizures may also present.
- Zolpidem – this is a sleeping pill commonly left on the bedside table where the cat or dog ingests it. Cats become wobbly and sleepy.
- Clonazepam – this is an anti-anxiety and anti-convulsant medicine. It causes sleepiness in cats, weakness, low blood pressure and collapse.
- Acetaminophen – a human painkiller which causes liver and red blood cell damage in cats
- Naproxen – a human painkiller which causes stomach ulcers and kidney failure in cats in small doses.
- Duloxetine – a mood enhancer for people it causes agitation, tremors and seizures in cats.
- Venlafaxine – an antidepressant for people causing agitation, tremors and seizures in cats.
Source: AVMA and photo: Kurtis Garbutt (modified by words and alteration to color balance).