Faced with an animal in pain, some may be tempted to administer paracetamol or aspirin present in its cupboards. If the gesture is commendable, it is unfortunately a very bad idea, underlines the National Agency for Health Security (Anses) in a press release (Source 1).
The first risk factor mentioned by ANSES is overdose. Because drugs intended for humans are generally not suitable for pets, in particular because of the weight of the latter, but not only. “ Even adjusting the drug dose to the size of the animal, the risk of poisoning still exists “, writes the agency, because of a different metabolism.
“ Frequently used in humans, paracetamol-based painkillers are leading drugs causing poisoning in animals, according to the pharmacovigilance system managed by the National Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products “, still indicates ANSES. The public health authority explains, for example, that cats do not have an enzyme to degrade paracetamol, and that dogs and other pets have very little of it. Result: if ingested, the active substance accumulates in the blood“ leading to adverse effects, affecting the blood system, liver or kidneys depending on the species “. A dose of paracetamol, even very low, can lead to the death of the animal, especially in cats.
As for anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, they can cause digestive, kidney and neurological disorders which can go as far as coma or death, warns ANSES. The latter adds that cases of intoxication have been reported with anxiolytics and antidepressants, and specifies that animals rarely need vitamin D supplements. It is therefore better to avoid giving it to them, again to avoid any risk of overdose.
In short, faced with a pet in bad shape, nothing beats a medical prescription written by the hand of a veterinarian. And, as for us, we will take care to respect the frequency of intake, the mode of administration and the duration of the treatment, and not to give an animal a drug initially prescribed for another. ANSES cites the example of loperamide, an antidiarrheal that can be prescribed for certain breeds of dogs, but which can cause digestive and neurological disorders in Collies and related breeds, due to a genetic mutation.
Finally, in the event of accidental administration or ingestion of a medicinal product for human use to an animal, it is advisable to quickly contact a veterinarian or a veterinary poison control center in order to find out what to do.
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