How Not To Kill Your Dog (or Cat)

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This year veterinarian Dr. Ron Hines found himself in a lot of trouble for giving away a lot of free advice over the internet. Read more about it here:

U.S. top court rejects Texas veterinarian’s pet-care advice case

What does that mean to us who seek information for taking great care of our beloved animals? The internet is teaming with great, and some really bad advice. The trouble, of course,  knowing what advice is credible.

Prescribing treatment plans, and giving specific dose recommendations for medications for animals is actually considered practicing veterinary medicine, and punishable by law if done by well meaning folks giving advice without 1) having a license to practice medicine, and 2) not seeing the animal in person before making those recommendations.

It is important for folks to understand, before they go on line to find what they need for a first aid kit, or when they consider giving over the counter medications,  the risks with using social media sites for calculating dosages. It always causes me much concern when people ask me to review blogs, pictures, memes, etc.   which give away specific dose recommendations and treatments for animals. There can be a lot of unknown factors involved, so please take care when following the advice from the internet. And don’t get yourself in trouble, either, by innocently sharing something, and then inadvertently putting yourself in a position where someone might say you were practicing medicine without a license!

For example: I recently saw one (I won’t include it to protect those who posted it), which gave a specific dose of Benadryl for pets.  Benadryl is fairly safe, but my issue with the meme is that it did not specify if this was a dose for dogs, or cats, or both. Benadryl is not usually used in cats due to the fact it can cause hyper-excitability. In dogs it can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, sedation, and decrease in urination (which might be a problem, say with kidney disease).  All doses for any medications on the internet have to specify what species of animal it is for, cats are not small dogs. One Tylenol can kill a cat. Don’t guess.

How about buffered aspirin? Again not something to give cats, nor to dogs already on other medications, such as pain or arthritis drugs grouped as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. This can cause blood thinning and increased bleeding, as well as ulcers, vomiting, and liver damage. Best to ask a vet before ever giving aspirin.

What about dose and suggestions for giving your dog hydrogen peroxide to make them vomit? A lay person should never make the determination of whether or not a dog should be made to vomit. Some chemicals can burn the esophagus on the way back up. Another risk with giving anything by mouth, like mineral oil or peroxide, is that you could cause the animal to aspirate into his lungs if not swallowed properly, and cause pneumonia. There are entirely too many risks with taking this on yourself. Ask a vet before deciding to induce vomiting, or force your animal to swallow a large amount of any liquid.

Giving Kaopectate and/or Pepto Bismol to pets with diarrhea can cause deadly bacteria in the gut to persist longer than if the body had flushed it out, and could potentially make the pet sicker, have a harder time recovering, or even death. Again, not something to give without talking to your vet first.

Animal lovers, and professionals, need to protect themselves and their clients and families, from distributing, or using,  information which may inadvertently harm animals. There can be serious consequences if folks take it upon themselves to treat their animals via internet advice rather than seeking the advice of a licensed veterinarian.

On that note, I am DrQ, here to help you, and your animal friends experience the happiest, healthiest, longest friendship you ever dreamed possible! Thanks for reading and sharing!