The Hidden Dangers of Flavored Medications

By Cassie Panning, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist at Pet Poison Helpline®

PillsGiving your pet a medication may be a task that you find unenjoyable, and at times it may be a daunting task.  You may have heard the saying about the struggles of giving  your cat a pill; in fact, if you have a cat you may have experienced this yourself!  While it may seem that it’s easier to give medications to dogs, especially when wrapped in a treat, it can still be a struggle for many pet owners.

To make the process easier for pet owners, many medications for pets now come in flavored or chewable forms to help your pet think they are getting a treat. Also if your pet’s medication is not available in treat form, there are many different compounding pharmacies that can turn almost any medication into an easy to give treat form.  This, however, can pose a risk for pets if the bottles or packages are left within reach.   The flavorings added can entice your pet into wanting to consume the entire bottle, leading to an overdose of the medication.  While some medications have a wide margin of safety and end up hurting your bank account more than your pet, others can pose a serious toxicity when ingested in larger quantities.

To help keep your pets safe be sure to follow these simple tips when you have medications, especially flavored ones in your household.

Tips to keep your pet safe:

  1. Keep all medication in a cabinet that is out of the reach of children or pets
    1. Even though many come in “child proof” containers, these often times are no match for our dogs teeth
  2. Mark on a calendar when you open the new bottle, along with dosage instructions to help calculate amount left
  3. Don’t store treats near medications, to avoid confusion between the two
  4. Keep a list of medications that your pets take including the name of the mediation, strength of each tablet and total quantity in a new bottle, in case the package is destroyed when you find it.