Tagged: “pet poison”

Right medications can save you a lot of trouble

Right medications can save you a lot of trouble

We’ve all seen the warnings – “do not use on cats” or “for dogs only” – written on various medications. And for the most part most people pay attention and follow the directions. But there’s some things that people feel comfortable doing that is off label – like buying the large dog size Advantage tubes and splitting it between multiple cats. It’s the same ingredients just packaged for a different weight so there’s no harm if you know the proper dosage to use.

Playing around with other medications, though, can have some serious side effects up to and including death. For example, Tylenol can be fatal to cats. And there are some tick products, Advantix being one, that is so toxic to cats it warns about using on a dog if cats come anywhere near him. One of my volunteers, Amy, recently found that out the hard way and wanted me to share her experience as a caution to all pet lovers out there. It’s a story worth telling, so I appreciate her sharing.

Amy went to her usual feed store and asked for a box of the large dog Advantage to treat her cats for fleas. She had recently added a new feline, Chevy, to her family and wanted to make sure she was not bringing in some extra guests. She saw the warning on the box that said “for dogs only” but she was experienced in splitting the dose down to cat-size. She applied the product to her new cat and went about her day. When she got home from dinner Chevy came staggering down the hall to greet her drooling profusely. Realizing that something was quite wrong, Amy scooped the cat up and rushed her to the emergency hospital.  She told the clinic that she assumed the cat was having a reaction to the Advantage applied earlier that day. As a new cat, Amy had no idea if Chevy had ever had Advantage before or had any known allergies.

The emergency staff immediately went to work on Chevy, bathing her, clipping her fur and giving fluids but asked Amy to go check the box and verify it was just Advantage that she used. Imagine Amy’s surprise when she arrived home and took a closer look at the box and saw that it was Advantix! It’s easy to see how a mistake like that could happen – a noisy feed store combined with a soft-spoken voice. Advantage and Advantix sound a lot alike. The boxes they come in are the same size and shape and look very similar. So unless one really checked the label carefully, the mix-up would be easy to miss.

It was a scary night, not to mention expensive, but Chevy pulled through fine. The lesson learned is how important it is to really read labels before giving any medication to our pets. Even if you get the prescription directly from your vet, especially if you have multiple pets, you should look it over carefully and question anything that seems odd to you. The technician might have inadvertently pulled another pet’s file and filled the prescription for the wrong weight or species. Don’t be embarrassed to question and verify that you are getting the right stuff. You’re the one who will be spending the night in the emergency clinic – and worrying that your pet might not pull through.