Home treatments for my pets, are they safe?

By Cassie Panning, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist

Dog and PillThere are many websites and resources available now that provide you with recommendations on how to treat your pets at home for many common illnesses or situations using over the counter human medications.  While these resources have good intentions you may want to know why it is not a good idea to diagnose your pet and provide treatments without consulting your veterinarian.

  1. Dosage guidelines: When these sites give you dosing instructions they do not take into account your pet’s medical history or conditions or even breed sensitivities.   Most resources will tell you dose X mg / pound of body weight for your pets.  While mg of medication per weight of your pet is how your veterinarian will determine the dose  of medication your pet needs, they also take into consideration any medical conditions your pet may have, any medications your pet is currently taking or if your specific breed of pet has any sensitive’s to the medication.
  1. Duration of treatment: While some of these sites will tell you how much to give and how often it can be repeated they often leave out the number of days or maximum amount of times the medication can or should be given.  Certain medications can mask signs of a more serious condition and by continually giving the medications you could be missing signs that may indicate that something else is going on with your pet.
  1. Hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomiting: Hydrogen Peroxide can be used to induce emesis in dogs, but did you know if you do not give enough or if the product is expired it will not produce the desired result while giving to much can cause signs of a secondary toxicity.  Large amount of Hydrogen Peroxide or giving Hydrogen Peroxide that is not the 3% concentration can cause severe irritation to your dog stomach that can lead to secondary medical conditions.  The sites also do not state that there are many toxins that should not have vomiting induced or certain breeds that can be a higher risk to choke on their vomit.  Your pet’s individual medical history may also be a concern for having vomiting induced at home.  If your pet recently had surgery or is prone to seizures giving your pet hydrogen peroxide at home could cause additional complications or a medical emergency.
  1. Medications for Diarrhea: Some sites will recommend using Imodium in dogs that are having diarrhea. While this medication may stop your dogs diarrhea, as long as it is dosed appropriately but it may cover up the reason your pet is having diarrhea.  If your dog is having diarrhea it can be a symptom of a more serious medical condition that need to be treated with specific medications. For example if your pet is having diarrhea because of intestinal parasites, Imodium is not going to solve the cause of the problem but it may mask the symptoms.
  1. Pain Medications: While most sites are careful on which pain medications they recommend, remember that our pets tolerate medications differently than people do. For pain control it is always best to seek veterinary care to rule out the cause of your pet’s pain. Pain medications can mask the signs of what is causing the pain and depending on human medication given we can see as little as one pill cause significant signs of toxicity including death.

Always remember that if you pet is showing signs of any medical complications that they should be evaluated by a veterinarian to ensure that the proper treatment is recommended.