Many animal lovers treat their pets as children, and it is easy to think that human drugs would be suitable for animal use should the need occur. There are specific pet medicines for a reason – dogs, cats, birds, fish, and reptiles all have a different physiology and require different levels of medicine to remedy a problem, so failing to consult an authority before administering drugs to your pet may prove deadly.
Many drugs designed for pets have a basis in ones originally intended for humans. Because animals suffer some of the same diseases and medical conditions as we do, the medicines we take have been modified in strength and dosage level to be appropriate for a smaller animal. Dosage of a particular drug is usually determined by species first, then weight.
An example of shared disease between humans and animals is Lyme disease. Because they can occur simultaneously in dogs and humans, both must take antibiotics to kill the bacteria – but only dogs and cats can have a monthly regiment of flea/tick medicine as a preventative. It will be a great advance in medicine when they can make that available for the avid hunter/outdoorsman of the human kind. Currently flea and tick medicine for pets is dangerous for pregnant women.
Humans and pets can also contract colds, runny noses, allergies, and coughs/sneezing. Although humans might be accustom to strong medicines containing sleep aids and alcohol, this could be deadly for a pet of any size, and your vet should be consulted if a seasonal illness starts to creep up on your friend.
Heartworm medication is relatively safe for all humans to be around, as humans cannot contract heartworm, and the pesticides used in heartworm medication are easily disposed of by the human body if direct contact is made somehow with the chemicals. It is an absolutely essential medication for your pet however, as an advanced heartworm case creates inhumane misery in the animal and leads to a slow painful death if not addressed quickly.
Pets such as cats and dogs are also vulnerable to mental health ailments. Anxiety and depression occur in them as well, and can be addressed similarly – albeit in smaller doses than in a human case. Your pet can also have a headache, muscle strain, arthritis, and upset stomach, in which case the appropriate human antidote (read: Tylenol, glucosamine, and antacids) may be effective. Ask your veterinarian about specific dosages and any unpleasant side effects. Also note that acetaminophen is deadly to cats, so ask about an alternative for pain treatment.
Advances in medical technology have made it easy to extend the life and health of our pets with medicine – even those with diseases thought to be intolerable for animals such as diabetes or skin allergies – can now live somewhat normal lives with a regular regiment of medicine, similar to humans with chronic conditions. Pet medications are available widely – contact your veterinarian for the medicine your pet should be on and where you can purchase it.