Cold and flu season is almost here! With all the sniffles and sneezing starting to go around, there’s probably some cold medicine lying somewhere around your house. While these medications may be helpful in keeping your family’s symptoms at bay, it’s important to keep them out of reach from four-legged members of the household. Many common cold and flu medicines contain ingredients that are toxic to pets. Below are a few of those dangerous ingredients:
Acetaminophen: This common fever reducer is harmful to both dogs and cats, but is especially dangerous for felines. Ingestion can lead to liver failure and methemoglobinemia (a blood disorder that results in a decrease in much-needed oxygen to body tissue). Should ingestion occur, swelling of the paws or face indicate the need for immediate emergency veterinary assistance.
Phenylephrine and Pseudoephedrine: Both of these ingredients aid in decongestion and are common in allergy medications as well as cold and flu products. Ingestion by dogs and cats can lead to an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, seizures, and even death. Phenylephrine is sometimes abbreviated as “PE” on medication packaging.
Naproxen and Ibuprofen: These pain relieving ingredients are both NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). They’re often found in multi-symptom cold and flu medications, especially products labeled specifically for sinus pain and congestion. These ingredients pose a risk for ulcers, kidney and liver damage, and stomach bleeding in pets.
To avoid a potentially tragic situation, keep all medications safely out of reach from curious pets. If you ever suspect your pet has swallowed human medication, immediately contact the pet poison hotline or seek veterinary assistance.