How Different are Pet Meds from my Prescription Drugs?

J.Gunsch
J.Gunsch
A vet might recommend giving a pet low doses of human medication.
A vet might recommend giving a pet low doses of human medication.

With many animal lovers treating their four legged companions as if they were their own children, it is no surprise that the market for pet medications is booming. There are probably just as many pet meds available for animals as there are prescription drugs for humans. Because animals suffer from many of the same diseases and illnesses that people do, the prescription drugs used to treat them are often the same. The difference in these cases is sometimes only a matter of the dosage that is prescribed according to size.

Heartworms cannot live in the human heart.
Heartworms cannot live in the human heart.

A great example of humans and animals taking the same medication is due to the prevalence of Lyme disease, a tick born illness endemic to eastern North America and parts of Europe. Both dogs and people suffer terribly from Lyme disease, and antibiotics, such as doxycycline, are used to treat this illness. If you and your dog are both positive for Lyme disease, which is not uncommon, your medications will likely be the same as those prescribed by your veterinarian.

Antihistamines used by humans are very similar to those given to pets.
Antihistamines used by humans are very similar to those given to pets.

Besides physical ailments that require the same drugs for humans as for pets, mental health conditions are sometimes treated in the same ways as well. Animals that struggle with depression and anxiety might be prescribed fluoxetine (Prozac®) or alprazolam (Xanax®), which are the same drugs that are often prescribed to humans with depression and anxiety.

Pet meds and prescription drugs are often interchangeable between humans and animals.
Pet meds and prescription drugs are often interchangeable between humans and animals.

Many pet meds consist of over-the-counter human medications, such as acetaminophen or antihistamines. Instead of prescribing drugs specifically made for animals, many veterinarians advise pet owners to give their pet low doses of human medications. Although some of these over-the-counter drugs are perfectly safe for animals, it is important only to give them to your pets under the advice of a veterinarian. Some drugs can be fatal to animals, as acetaminophen is to cats.

In many cases, pet and human meds differ only in the size of the dosage recommended for a patient of a certain size.
In many cases, pet and human meds differ only in the size of the dosage recommended for a patient of a certain size.

Although many pet meds are the same as the drugs that people benefit from, others are specified only for a certain species and are dangerous or ineffective for humans. This includes flea and tick medications and heartworm preventives. Medications that are designed to control fleas and ticks on pets are very dangerous for humans to come into contact with, especially pregnant woman. Those that prevent heart worm contain pesticides that are irrelevant to humans, because the heartworm cannot live in the human heart.

A licensed vet should be consulted before giving a dog any sort of medication.
A licensed vet should be consulted before giving a dog any sort of medication.

Although pet meds and prescription drugs are often interchangeable between humans and animals, it is very important only to use drugs that are specifically prescribed for the individual animal or person. If a pet or a person accidentally ingests a medication meant for someone else, be sure to seek medical or veterinary advice right away.

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Discussion Comments

anon84560

Is probably the same meds. call your doctor and ask or the vet. phone calls are free.

anon74157

Can my wife take 500mg cipro from the vet? it looks the same as her regular 500mg cipro.

anon39510

I am looking for a cross reference book for human/dog medications.

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    • A vet might recommend giving a pet low doses of human medication.
      By: Eléonore H
      A vet might recommend giving a pet low doses of human medication.
    • Heartworms cannot live in the human heart.
      By: werbefoto-burger.ch
      Heartworms cannot live in the human heart.
    • Antihistamines used by humans are very similar to those given to pets.
      By: Wellford Tiller
      Antihistamines used by humans are very similar to those given to pets.
    • Pet meds and prescription drugs are often interchangeable between humans and animals.
      By: Rob Byron
      Pet meds and prescription drugs are often interchangeable between humans and animals.
    • In many cases, pet and human meds differ only in the size of the dosage recommended for a patient of a certain size.
      By: candy1812
      In many cases, pet and human meds differ only in the size of the dosage recommended for a patient of a certain size.
    • A licensed vet should be consulted before giving a dog any sort of medication.
      By: Gabriel Blaj
      A licensed vet should be consulted before giving a dog any sort of medication.