Can Dogs Take Over-The-Counter Medicines? No! Effects of OTC Medicines on Dogs Explained…

Can Dogs Take Over-The-Counter Medicines

Can dogs take over-the-counter medicines? Can they take prescription and nonprescription drugs and still feel good? Find out what you can and cannot safely give your pet.

If your pet needs any type of medication, IT MUST BE PRESCRIBED BY A DOCTOR. If the doctor has prescribed an over-the-counter drug instead (such as an OTC pain-relieving product such as Tylenol), then the animal may be able to take it without any problems.

However, if your pet needs a prescription drug, it cannot be given in an over-the-counter form. Why? As you know, OTC medicines (over-the-counter drugs) and prescription medicines (prescription drugs) are treated differently.

The specific directions for taking an OTC drug — such as the dosage and frequency — are set out in the product label, and there is no reason for your pet to take a medicine in a different way from anyone else. Never give your pet anything other than the medication that has been prescribed by a veterinarian. If you don’t follow these directions, your pet could become severely ill or even dead.

Also, there are some OTC medicines that are dangerous to your pet if given incorrectly by people other than a veterinarian. For example, medications often contain acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol. Even though this is an over-the-counter drug, it is VERY harmful to dogs or cats to take if they haven’t been prescribed it by a veterinarian.

If you choose to give your pet an OTC prescription drug (such as pain-relieving drugs) in any situation other than where it has been prescribed, the medication could cause severe problems with your pet’s health or even death. So read the label carefully. If you are unsure, talk to your veterinarian.

Also, check out What Can Dogs Have For Pain?

Effects Of OCT Medicines on Dogs (If Not Prescribed by Veterinarian)

When your dog is on OCT medicine, you must constantly monitor them for changes in their behavior or physical alterations. During the first few weeks while your pet is on medications you should take notes on the severity of the changes in behavior or physical state. Any differences should be noted down, even if it is only a subtle change that may seem irrelevant at first. That slight difference could mean that there are serious side effects that are causing harm to your pet’s health and well-being.

For instance, if your dog begins to lose weight without changing their diet or physical state you will want to note that down. You will want to do the same thing if your pet begins to lose interest in their favorite activities.

Some of the major side effects of OCT medicines on dogs include:

  1. Lethargy or depression that is severe and persistent.
  2. Tripod gait (lack of coordination)
  3. Staggering
  4. Weakness
  5. Excitability
  6. Irregular heart-beat
  7. Irregular breathing pattern

There are some medications that your pet may be able to take safely if they have been prescribed by a veterinarian.

For example, if your pet has pain because of an injury (such as arthritis), the medication could be taken OTC because it is an analgesic (pain reliever). Pain-relieving medications are not only safe for dogs and cats; they are also very effective in reducing pain.

You might also be interested in Can Dogs Have Zofran? 

Oral antibiotics (such as amoxicillin and others), when given in tablet form, maybe also safe for dogs if they have been prescribed by a veterinarian. The OTC version of these antibiotics that contain the same active ingredients is in the same category as any other over-the-counter medication — it can’t be given by people other than your vet if you don’t follow the prescribed dosage and administration instructions.


A final word: NEVER give your pet any medication that is not prescribed by a veterinarian. If you see a friend or neighbor giving an OTC med to their dog or cat, then ask them what they are giving it for; if they say “because it says on the label”, then they cannot be trusted to give their pet anything other than what has been prescribed by a vet.

 Thank you for reading the article.

Now that you know whether dogs can take OTC medicines, find out everything about dog medication here.

Have you ever given OTC medicine to your dog without a doctor’s prescription? What do you give your dog for pain relief? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!

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