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Reporting a Medication Error

Top 10 Tips to keep pets safe around medicines

e9c1f51a97744aa713c8967fc1a2c65b MMost people are aware of the need to keep medications out of children’s reach, but they don’t necessarily realize that similar rules apply when it comes to keeping pets safe. Pets can also get into medications that are not intended for them, which could cause harm. One case in point was recently reported.

After an outing at the park with his two dogs, a man picked up his monthly prescription refills from the pharmacy and placed the bag on the passenger's seat in the car. Before returning home, he headed to the grocery store to pick up some forgotten items. While he was in the grocery store, one or both of the dogs got into the pharmacy bag containing his medications. The dog(s) took a prescription bottle containing 90 tablets of lisinopril 5 mg into the back seat and chewed the bottom of the bottle open. The man returned to the car, did not notice a prescription bottle was missing from the bag, and drove home. When he brought the pharmacy bag into the house and put his medications away, he did not notice the lisinopril was missing. When he returned to the car several hours later, he noticed that the lisinopril tablets were strewn all over the back seat and floor. He was only able to find 70 of the 90 tablets.

Both dogs were taken to an emergency veterinarian, who examined the dogs and called the Animal Poison Control Center run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Fortunately, the toxic dose of lisinopril for either 50-pound dog was well above the missing amount of lisinopril (100 mg), and the dogs suffered no adverse effects. However, luck certainly played a role in this fortunate outcome. Had the dog(s) chosen a different medication from the pharmacy bag full of refilled medications, the outcome could have been tragic.

To keep your four-legged family member safe, follow the recommendations in our Top 10 Tips:

  1. Store all medications out of your pet’s reach. Most dogs can quickly chew a bottle open to get to the medications inside.
  2. Don’t leave medications on tables or nightstands where your pet can reach them.
  3. If you drop any medications on the floor, immediately pick them up. Pets are likely to mistake dropped medications as dropped food scraps and eat them before realizing they’re not tasty treats.
  4. Keep human medications and pet medications separate. Although pets may often be treated with the same medications as people, the doses are usually vastly different, and confusing the doses can be fatal. Also, keep medications intended for different species of pets separate to prevent mix-ups. Medications for animals can have different, and often undesirable, effects when used for a different species. For example, some flea medications intended for dogs are highly toxic to cats.
  5. Don’t let pets come in contact with or eat medication patches (e.g., nicotine patches, fentaNYL patches) prescribed for you. Also, if pets are prescribed a medication patch, be sure they do not lay next to heat sources that could potentially enhance the medication’s absorption and lead to an overdose.
  6. Don’t let pets come into contact with or lick your skin where medical creams (e.g., sports creams, topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory creams, fluorouracil topical cream) have been applied.
  7. If a pet sitter or someone unfamiliar with your pet’s medicines will be giving medications to your pet, leave clear written instructions to prevent confusion and dosing mistakes.
  8. Never give pets human medications (including over-the-counter [OTC] medications and weight loss products) without consulting your veterinarian. Medications that may seem innocuous, such as ibuprofen, can be fatal for pets.
  9. Properly dispose of expired medications in pet-safe containers.
  10. Always contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) if your pet has ingested any medications that were not prescribed for them. A $65 consultation fee may apply when you call the Animal Poison Control Center.

We hope errors never happen, but if they do, please report any veterinary-related medication errors to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). You can also report errors to ISMP and we will forward them to the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.

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