A growing number of pet owners are self-medicating their animals using drugs made for humans to avoid paying vet fees, a new study has revealed.
Vets are concerned at the rise in the number of owners putting pets health at risk by giving them such medication as anti-histamines, paracetamol, antiseptic creams and ibuprofen.
They say these are potentially toxic – and in some cases fatal – for the animals.
Just over ten per cent of pet owners questioned admitted they had used the medication to treat injuries including cut paws, sore eyes and insect stings.
Most say they did so to avoid paying the average £35 consulatation fee to see a vet.
Other reasons included wanting to give their pet “a quick fix” to sort their health problem and not feeling the injury was “serious enough” to see a vet.
The poll, by pet insurer More Th>n, also revealed a third of owners misguidedly believed over the counter human medications were actually safe for pets to consume.
Andrew Moore, the insurer’s veterinary consultant, said: “Pet owners risk significant harm to their pet’s wellbeing by giving them medicines designed for humans, with liver failure and kidney damage among a litany of potential health complications that arise from seemingly harmless over-the-counter products. Dosing and delivery of medication is everything, and only a veterinary professional can know the safe quantity of any medicine to administer to an animal.”
Dr Moore is also concerned about the growing trend for people to feed their furry family friends protein shakes or bars or vitamin pills made for humans. The UK-wide study of more than 1,000 owners found five per cent had started giving their cat or dog these products to help them get in shape, look better, improve their stamina or lose weight.
Vets warn the animals can react badly to these products and can suffer ill effects including nausea, poisoning and allergic reactions.
Dr Moore said: “Dogs and cats do need a specific amount of protein, but they need it from certain whole food sources, such as meat. Protein shakes and bars contain sources of protein not found in nature and are inappropriate for animals.”
Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, “It’s very important owners seek veterinary advice if they are concerned for their pet’s health. People should never give their pets human medication without consulting a vet as this could cause serious harm.”