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Monday, January 10, 2011

Are over the counter drugs safe for all dogs?

ASPCA poison hot line (888) 426 -4435

                                  JEEZ! SALLY? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?

I can hear many spewing those very words right now as they read the title of this article. But as Lucy said to Ricky, “Pleez, le’ me splain!” and I will! First, notice that I have placed the ASPCA poison control hotline number and website at both the top and bottom of this article. The ASPCA charges for each new call but NEVER let a few dollars charged to your credit card keep you from seeking proper guidance for your dog; it may be the best thing you will ever charge in your life!

I am not a veterinarian and I don’t advise using any medication without the consult of your vet, however I do come across people who believe that it is okay to give their dogs medications such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol with the belief that since it is okay for a short period of time to give a dog aspirin, the other two must also be okay to give. Right? NO!

Did you know that within 12 hours of giving Ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, Motrin ) ulcers can occur and as late as 5 days after it is given you may see signs of kidney damage? Or that the wrong dosing of Acetaminophen can within 24 hours cause coma and death?

Since we are only human, people are going to continue to self prescribe for their dogs trying to save a buck without actually reading lengthy precautions in an article. I am keeping my precautions short in the hopes they will be read and someone will say, “Hey, I don’t like the sound of this, I’d better do more research.” Or they will call their vet and ask for guidance. If they fail to do that, then let’s at least give the proper resources and dosing so dogs are not overdosed to the point of becoming severely ill or there’s an occurrence of death.

This is my reason for writing this blog article and before it went to post, I had a certified Veterinarian read it over to be sure the info was correct and to add or change anything needed.

But please, as the monopoly card says, “Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars!” Read the precautions and side effects before you read the dosing of the medication. I have typed out some of the precautions for you to read here, but it is highly advisable you visit the sites where appropriate and read further information before you give that dose of OTC medicine.

Dogs are similar to us in some ways, but they are also breed specific and there are some breeds that should never be given certain over the counter meds even though it may be touted safe for other dogs. For example, Collies, Shelties, Australian shepherds, long haired whippets and some mutts should never be given kaopectate (Bismuth Subsalicylate) or Imodium (loperamide) because these breeds and others can suffer from a mutation in the multi-drug resistance gene (MDRI).

Who would have thought that the very stuff you give your Labrador should not be given to your Collie? This is why it is so important to call your vet before you dose! To see a full list of dogs that should not get this medication click the site below this paragraph. Notice that I said mutts as well because mutts are a mixture of dogs and one of those mixtures may be part of the listed breeds.

Even though I have listed the below with dosing, contact your vet before use, talk about the dosing for your sized dog as well as what to watch for as it pertains to side effects. Your vet will know if any similar medication did not agree with your dog in the past or if there is potential for an allergic reaction. Hey, it’s only going to cost you a local phone call, but the wrong dosing can cost your dog its life!

                     This information is for DOGS only! Do not use this information for cats!

(Not Tylenol or Ibuprofen)

Aspirin Coated/buffered ~ given with food and should be used no more than a few days because it can cause stomach ulcers. See your Vet for a safer anti inflammatory if problems persist.

Side effects: Possible side effects include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ulcers. If you see vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite or dark, sticky stools, STOP IMMEDIATELY and call your veterinarian.

Precautions: Do not use if your dog is allergic to aspirin or other NSAIDs, or if your dog is on any other medications. If symptoms last more than 3 days, stop use and call your veterinarian.

Dose: 5 mg per pound of body weight every 12 hours. Give with food.

less than 10 lbs ~ ½ baby aspirin

10-20 lbs ~ 1 baby aspirin

30-50 lbs ~ ½ regular coated aspirin

50-100 lbs ~ 1 regular coated aspirin

Over 100 lbs ~ 2 regular coated aspirin

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Acetaminophen~ NEVER without vet consult! Can be toxic to dogs (Acetaminophen is the main ingredient in Tylenol. )

Acetaminophen toxicity symptoms- 1st stage: Vomiting, dullness, difficulty breathing, brown gums, and drooling 2nd stage:  Facial swelling ( lips and limbs swelling) uncoordinated, convulsions, coma and possible death. 3rd stage: Liver failure, jaundice gums, eyes and skin, inappropriate mental condition.

For more information on Acetaminophen click here


Ibuprofen~ NEVER without vet consult! Can be toxic to dogs.

(Ibuprofen is the main ingredient in Motrin, Nuprin, Advil check all package ingredients if you suspect it has Ibuprofen in it)

Ibuprofen toxicity symptoms: vomiting, black tarry stool, vomiting blood, weakness, lethargy, dehydration, abdominal pain.

For more information click here

Antihistamines (for allergies)

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) Make sure you use plain Benadryl and not Benadryl allergy/sinus. The allergy /sinus may contain additives such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen or decongestants. Also, Benadryl is a brand name so if you pick up a knock off of it to save money, read the package and make sure the only ingredient is diphenhydramine! Any other ingredient listed may not be safe for your dog.

(Side effects may be sleepiness, nausea and diarrhea).

For more Side effects and precautions click here

Dose: 2 mg per pound of body weight orally every 8 hours.

Anti diarrhea meds

Kaopectate/Imodium ~ do not give to Collies, Shelties, Australian shepherds or whippets as these breeds can have an adverse reaction to this medicine click below for information and other breeds this med should not be used with.

Caution: This should not be given to dogs with hypothyroidism, kidney disease, Addisons disease, elderly dogs or debilitated animals. Use with caution in animals with head injuries, lung disease, acute abdominal pain or liver disease. Precaution of overdose for dogs under 20 pounds.

For more precautions and side effects click here

1 teaspoon per 20 lbs of body weight (or ½ to 1 ml per pound of body weight ) every 6 hours for 24 hours.

(pure canned pumpkin , not the pie filling, added to meals can also help with both diarrhea and constipation. 1 to 2 tablespoons for dogs over 50 lbs and 1 teaspoon for smaller dogs, this may be a safer alternative to otc drugs )

Pepto Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate, highly toxic to cats) Should not use if your dog is allergic to aspirin or other salicylates. May interact with tetracycline, steroids, non steroidal Anti inflammatory (nsaids) and aspirin. Do not give if your dog is on other medications.

Dosing : 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight, every 6 hours. The total dose for the day should be divided into four doses.

 Precautions/ and side effects


Metamucil (psyllium), this can also be used if your dog ate glass or other sharp object to hopefully encase the object and carry it safely through the dogs intestines. However it should not be used in dogs that have an intestinal obstruction. If you suspect your dog has eaten a non food item then it may be an obstruction rather than constipation.

Caution: water should always be made available when a dog is given this to prevent esophageal and intestinal obstruction. When this drug is given at the same time as digoxin (cardiac/heart) , salicylates, and nitrofurantoin, it can impair the absorption of these drugs.

Dosing: 1 to 5 grams per pound of body weight every 12 to 24 hours

Precautions and side effects

Cough medication

Robitussin DM (Dextromethorphan)

**Make sure the ONLY ingredient is dextromethorphan**

** Be sure it does not contain Acetaminophen  or Ibuprofen**

Used to soothe coughs due to kennel cough. Should not be used with dogs that have a hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug. Should not be used as treatment for chronic/persistent cough as it is only for temporary relief. Should not be used for coughing associated with heart disease, pneumonia or other lung diseases. Might interact with sedatives, tranquilizer, and barbiturates.

Do not use with anipryl (selegiline ) or Preventic tick collar)

1/4 teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight (or 1 teaspoon per 20 lbs of body weight) ~ every four hours

Side effects / precautions here

Motion sickness

Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) this is an antihistamine that helps to prevent motion sickness. Precautions~ should not be used for dogs with glaucoma, seizure disorders, overactive thyroid, heart disease or high blood pressure.

Side effects~ sedation, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite

Dose: 2-4 mg per pound of body weight every 8 hours. Try to give at least one half hour before travel.

Small dogs~ 12.5 mgs ~ Medium dogs~ 25 mgs~

Large dogs~ 50 mgs

More on Dramamine here:

Stomach upset of acid reflux

Pepcid AC (Famotidine) do not use if there is a hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug. Use caution for dogs with kidney or liver disease. If your dog is taking digoxin or ketoconazole, Pepcid may interfere with these medications

0.25 to 0.5 mg per pound of body weight every 12 to 24 hours

Pepcid Precautions and side effects here:

Ranitidine (Zantac) Avoid for dogs with kidney or liver disease, known hyperactivity or allergy to the drug. Drug interactions with Theophylline, propranolol and some antacids.

(Ranitidine) 0.25 to 1 mg per pound of body weight.

Ranitidine precautions and side effect click here

Famotidine (Pepcid AC) – Ranitidine (Zantac) dosing

Less than 20 lbs ¼ tablet       20-60- ½ tablet            Over 60lbs 1 tablet

Cimetidine (Tagamet) Caution with hypersensitivity, allergy of this drug. Should not be used with liver or kidney disease. Drug interactions: some antacids , metoclopramide, sucralfate, digoxinm and diazepam.

Precautions /side effects:  

Cimetidine (tagamet) dose: 3 to 5 mg per pound of body weight every 6 to 8 hours

Gas X (Simethicone)

Gas X can help not only with a gassy stomach or flatulence but also if you feel your dog is prone to Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat) it is a good medicine to keep in your dog first aid kit however contact vet before dosing for flatulence or irritable bowel syndrome.

Normal Gas X Dosing;

Large breed 1 adult dose

Medium dogs ½ adult dose

Small breed ¼ adult dose

For bloat emergency only! Bloat is mostly seen in large, deep chested, dogs. Give a double dose if you suspect bloat is happening as you transport your dog to the hospital. Symptoms of bloat are dry heaving, drooling, stomach bloating, and being unresponsive.

For information on bloat:

Supplements and ointments

Glucosamine supplement

Glucosamine used in conjunction with Chondroitin can help joint pain from hip dysplasia, or arthritic joints. This product can Cause stomach/gastrointestinal upset. As for veterinary formula over human formula, the product Cosequin for animals has been verified to have the amount in it that it states it does. The human formulation of glucosamine /chondroitin may vary even it states there is a certain amount. Glucosamine comes in chewable tabs, regular tabs or capsules which can be sprinkled over the pets food.

Directions for Cosequin has the proper dosing on their product.

Glucosamine Dosing:

under 25 lbs~ 500 mgs

25-50lbs~ 1000 mgs

Over 50lbs~ 1500 mgs

Melatonin   (Used for noise anxiety /thunder/fireworks etc.)

May interact with traquilizers, corticosteroids or monomamine oxidase inhibitors used for behaviors

More on melatonin here:

Small dogs~ 0.5 to 1 mg per dog every 8 hours

Medium~ 1 to 3 mg per dog every 8 hours

Large~ 3 to 9 mg per dog every 8 hours

Antibacterial soap can be used to clean wounds and is more effective and safer than hydrogen peroxide.

Triple antibiotic ointments

While this can be used for minor scrapes and wounds it is recommended that you see your vet for deeper bacterial infections. Never use an ointment with Zinc Oxide in it as this is toxic to dogs when ingested

Zinc toxicity here:

Emergency actions

Inducing vomiting

3 % Hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean wounds or used as a means to make your dog vomit if the dog ingested something toxic. **Not all toxic substances should be vomited up as some can do more damage to the dog by coming back up than staying down. Always ask your vet or poison control hotline if you should induce vomiting for a toxic substance your dog may have gotten into.

Dosing: 1 teaspoon 3% hydrogen peroxide per 10 lbs of body weight to the back of the tongue to a maximum of 3 tablespoons. (3 US teaspoons =1 Tablespoon) If you have a syringe one teaspoon = 5 cc or 5 ml. if vomiting has not occurred in 15 to 20 minutes you can give this safely only one more time. Once you give it to the dog, jiggle the belly a bit and walk the dog around to get it mixed up in the stomach.

More information on inducing vomiting here

                                                ASPCA at (888) 426-4435


**Have a credit card ready!**


  1. Another informative article with sensible recommendations

  2. Anipryl is prescribed for the treatment of some types of Cushing's disease caused by a pituitary tumor in dogs. To maintain precautions we use these tablets. Thanks.


  3. anipryl seems only to be had by a Vet not an over the counter a customer would get. Read cautions and use here