Here is a list of a few of the over-the-counter medications that you can give your pet in an emergency. Please remember to contact your veterinarian before medicating your pet, and do not give these medications long-term unless your veterinarian recommends it. Also REMEMBER - that just because some is good, more is not necessarily better, and that two similar medications used to treat the same problem in humans can have very different effects in an animal.
Dogs and cats can be given 1-2 mg/lb every eight hours. This can be used to treat allergic reactions, and it also has some anti-anxiety and anti-vertigo effects. As a general rule, it is pretty safe stuff. The primary side effect is drowsiness, so please do not allow your pet to drink alcohol or operate heavy machinery while taking it.
Buffered Aspirin (Bufferin®, Ascriptin ® )
Dogs can take 5-12.5 mg/lb every 12 hours for pain, inflammation and fever. I usually recommend one regular-strength tablet (325 mg) for a 50-60 lb. dog. It can be given to cats, but at a much lower and less frequent dosage interval, so it is best just to steer clear of aspirin in a cat unless prescribed by your vet. Side effects include stomach upset (note that ‘Buffered’ is underlined) and decreased blood clotting.
This product can be used to treat diarrhea. It used to be very safe in both dogs and cats, but the brand-name stuff has recently been reformulated to contain salicylates, which are potentially dangerous to cats. The dose for both is 0.5-1 mg/lb every 4-6 hours, but make sure that you use the original formula for cats. The main side effect is constipation.
Bismuth Subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol®)
This product can be used to treat nausea and diarrhea, but it shouldn’t be used in cats, because it contains salicylates. It is the anti-diarrheal of choice in ferrets. The dosage is 1 ml/8-10 lbs every 6-8 hours for dogs, and 0.5-1 ml/lb every 8 hours for ferrets. Side effects include discoloration of stools.
Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton®, Aller-Chlor®)
This is a good antihistamine to assist with managing sneezing and sinus allergies in dogs and cats. It comes in 4 mg tablets, and is dosed at ½-1 tablet per cat every 12 hours, and 1-2 tablets per dog (up to a maximum dose of 0.25 mg/lb) every 8-12 hours. It can also cause drowsiness.
Dextromethorphan/Guaifenesin (Robitussin DM ®)
This product can be used to treat coughing in dogs, cats and ferrets, at a dosage of 0.5 ml/lb every 8 hours. Make sure that it is the ‘DM’ product only, and remember that coughing can be a symptom of some very serious diseases. It can also cause some mild sedation.
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