By Dr. Angela Gaeto, DVM, of the Helen Woodward Animal Center community in San Diego County.
With all kinds of medication available to humans over the counter, many pet owners are tempted to give pets the same medication to avoid a trip to the vet. However, not all human medications can be administered to pets with the same result. There are also different drug interactions in pets and people, so always ask your veterinarian before giving your pet a new medication.
Human Pain Medication
Among the most commonly available over-the-counter human medications are pain medications, of which the most common are NSAIDs or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Pets do not break down these medications the same way in their bodies, which leads to toxic metabolites. Ultimately pets can get liver and kidney failure from taking these medications, which is why we never recommend administering them to pets. Pets can take drugs from this class that are formulated specially for use in dogs or cats, which are only available with a prescription. There are numerous other types of pain medication that people take that may also be safe for pets such as Tramadol. However, the dose can widely vary depending on the pet's size, strength of the medication, and the condition you’re treating. So, it is always best to confirm a dose with your veterinarian.
Pepcid or Famotidine
Famotidine is a commonly available over-the-counter drug taken by many people. Famotidine decreases the amount of acid produced in the stomach to decrease risk of gastric or intestinal ulcers, gastric reflux, and other conditions exacerbated by increased acid in the stomach. This medication works the same way in dogs. Dogs take this for the same reasons- decreased ulcer risk, gastric reflux, and other GI conditions. Ask your veterinarian about the dose needed to treat your pet's condition.