Human Medicines that Work for Pets… or Not

By isak, June 4, 2009

Several human medicines are effective for cats and dogs. The dosages are, of course, lower because the pets are smaller. It’s always a good idea to call your vet before giving your pet any type of human medicine to be sure it is safe and will work for your pet’s condition. Be sure you tell your vet of any other medications your pet is taking at the time in case there could be interactions.
(Also see “10 Poison Pills for Pets” for meds to NOT give your pet.)

  • A&D Ointment — Antibacterial ointment for scrapes and wounds.
    Dogs & Cats: Apply thin coating 3-4 times a day for 7-10 days.
  • Anbesol — Topical anesthetic for mouth pain.
    Dogs: Dab on liquid with cotton swab once or twice a day for up to 2 days.
    Cats: Do not use more than one time.
  • Anti-bacterial soap
    Can be used to clean any wound or injury.
  • Aspirin — Pain & inflammation relief
    Dogs: Can be given short term to dog. Buffered Aspirin (Bufferin) is easier on the stomach but regular (non-coated) aspirin can also be used.  Aspirin may be given once or twice a day with food. Less than 10 lbs: 1/2 baby aspirin; 10-30 lbs: 1 baby aspirin; 30-50 lbs: 1/2 regular aspirin; 50-100 lbs: 1 regular aspirin; over 100 lbs: 2 regular aspirin.
    Cats: NEVER!
  • Aveeno Oatmeal Medicated Bath — For soothing itchy skin.
    Dogs & Cats: Use as bath rinse as often as 3 times a week.
  • Benadryl — Antihistamine.
    Dogs: 1 mg per lb twice a day.
    Cats: Safe to use, but not very effective in cats, and other antihistamines are more commonly prescribed.
  • Betadine Skin Cleanser — Antiseptic liquid soap for cleansing on or around wounds.
    Dogs & Cats: Use full strength to wash affected area.
  • Betadine Solution — Antiseptic solution for flushing or soaking injured area.
    Dogs & Cats: Dilute with distilled water to the color of weak tea, then apply.
  • Bufferin — Pain reliever.
    Dogs: 10-25 mg per 2.2 lb two or three times a day.
    Cats: DO NOT USE.
  • Burow’s Solution — Topical antiseptic.
    Dogs & Cats: Moisten cotton ball and apply to wound.
  • Caladryl — Soothing topical lotion for pain and itching.
    Dogs & Cats: Caladryl (calamine) lotion is not recommended as it can actually be toxic to dogs. The most toxic component is zinc oxide. Zinc can cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. However, this usually is only a problem if the lotion was eaten. Repeated ingestion of zinc oxide can cause serious problems
  • Cortaid — Anti-itch cream.
    Dogs & Cats: Apply once or twice daily as needed.
  • Desitin — Soothing ointment.
    Dogs & Cats: Rub on affected area.
  • Dramamine — For car sickness, nausea.
    Dogs: 2-4mg per lb 3 times a day.
    Cats: 1/4 of 50-mg Tablet (12.5 mg) once a day.
  • Dulcolax — For constipation.
    Dogs: 5- to 20-mg tablet once a day or 1/2 to 2 pediatric suppositories (10 mg) once a day.
    Cats: 5-mg tablet once a day or 1/2 pediatric suppository once a day.
  • Epsom Salts — Soothing soak for irritated, itchy skin.
    Dogs: 1 cup per gal of water, then soak affected area.
    Cats: 1 cup per 2 gal of water, then soak affected area.
  • Gas-X (Simethicone) — for gas
    Dogs: small: 1/4 adult dose; medium: 1/2 adult dose; large: 1 adult dose.
    Cats: 1/4 adult dose.
  • Hydrocortisone — Relieves itchy, raw or irritated skin.
    Dogs & Cats: can be used topically to reduce itching from hives, hot spots, and insect bites and stings. Apply a small amount up to two times daily.
  • Hypo Tears — Eye lubricant.
    Dogs & Cats: Apply 4-12 times a day.
  • Iodine — Topical antiseptic.
    Dogs & Cats: Paint on wound.
  • Imodium (loperamide) — For diarrhea.
    Can be given to some dogs and cats for diarrhea.  WARNING: Certain dog breeds related to Collies may have adverse reactions to Imodium (loperamide).  Do not give this medicine to Collies, Shelties, Australian Shephards and Long-haired Whippits. See this site for more detailed information.
  • Ipecac Syrup — Emetic to promote vomiting.
    Dogs: 1 tsp per 20 lb, up to 3 tsp.
    Cats: DO NOT USE.
  • Kaopectate — For diarrhea.
    Dogs: 1/2 – 1 tsp per 5 lb, to a maximum of 2 Tbsp every 8 hours.
    Cats: Not recommended for cats since the formula was changed as they contain an aspirin derivative that is toxic to cats in high doses.
  • Lanacane — Topical anesthetic.
    Dogs: Apply to sore area with gauze pad.
    Cats: DO NOT USE.
  • Massengill Disposable Douche — Odor neutralizer for skunk spray, body odor.
    Dogs & Cats: Mix 2 oz per gal of water, use as a soak for 15 min, then bath as usual.
  • Metamucil (unflavored) — For constipation.
    Dogs: 1 tsp per 10-25 lb, mixed in food.
    Cats: 1/2 tsp (small cat) to 1 tsp (large cat), mixed in food.
  • Mylanta Liquid — For digestive upset, gas.
    Dogs: 15 lbs or less — 3 Tbsp; 16-50 lbs — 4 Tbsp; 51 lb or more — 6 Tbsp.
    Cats: DO NOT USE.
  • Neosporin — For preventing wound infection.
    Dogs & Cats: Apply 3-5 times daily as needed.
  • Pedialyte — For dehydration.
    Dogs & Cats: Mix 50/50 with water, offer as much as dog or cat wants.
  • Pepcid AC/Tagamet/Zantac — For vomiting.
    Dogs: 5 mg per 10 lb once or twice a day.
    Cats: 2.5mg or 1/4 of a 10mg tablet ONCE a day
  • Pepto-Bismol — For diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, vomiting.
    Dogs: 0.5 ml per lb or 1/2-1 tsp per 5 lb, to a maximum of 30 ml or 2 Tbsp up to 3 times per day, or 1 tablet per 15 lb up to 3 times per day.
    Cats: DO NOT USE
  • Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia — For constipation.
    Dogs: 2-4 tsp per 5 lb every 6 hours.
    Cats: 1/2-1 tsp once a day.
  • Preparation H — For sore anal area.
    Dogs: Apply up to 4 times daily.
    Cats: DO NOT USE.
  • Robitussin Pediatric Cough Formula — Cough suppressant.
    Dogs & Cats: Ask your vet.
  • Solarcaine — Topical pain reliever and anesthetic.
    Dogs: Apply to sore area once or twice a day for up to 2 days.
    Cats: DO NOT USE.
  • Tylenol — Pain reliever.
    Dogs & Cats: DO NOT USE. Cats are extremely sensitive to acetaminophen, and the liver and kidney function of dogs can be severely damaged.
  • Vicks VapoRub — For congestion.
    Dogs & Cats: Smear a small amount on your pet’s chin for easier breathing.
  • Witch Hazel — Astringent/topical antiseptic.
    Dogs & Cats: Dab on affected area.

see also Antibiotics for Dogs

From a reader: I have a pit-bull. I found out that she was crazy allergic to chicken  and also struggles with bacteria issues that make her itch.The vet suggested we try Malaseb medicated shampoo. It has been a life saver! It neutralizes the bacteria that causes the itchy belly/paws. She is so much happier now. I highly recommend it and you can get it several places online.

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resources:
The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats
Walker Valley Vet

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185 Comments

  1. Cris says:

    Hurrah
    Look ? at this site!! I am the proud mom of 3 fur pups at present. My girl Lily is a foot chewer and I’m always seeking ways to help her. Yes, I have the vet recommended antiseptic spray. When I use it She licks it right off then hides so I can’t use it again.
    She is a black dog with black paws and her blade hair grows on her feet too. Between the pads too.
    This is a first for me. I’ve had dogs all my life but never one that grows fur between the pads on her paws.

    I’m so very grateful to have found you this morning. I’m sure I’ll be back soon.
    Thank You

    • isak says:

      If her itchy paws are from excess yeast, you can mix apple cider vinegar with water and apply the solution to his feet. It won’t hurt her if she licks it off. It will reduce the itchiness and should counter the yeast.

  2. Kay says:

    I have an 11 month old foster cat that has nearly constant drainage from his eyes; it is an amber color and he doesn’t seem bothered, but it can get crusty and hard to remove – he has a hard time taking pills or liquids (had a very hard beginning with being born in a deplorable location and after being rescued suffered a severe URI as well as other health issues). He is beyond adorable but if his eyes don’t clear up consistently he isn’t available for an adoption event… any suggestions? Vets have said they don’t know what to do for him – I want him to be healthy & happy.

    • isak says:

      Did he have this discharge when he was being treated for the URI? If so, it seems it might be more allergy related (especially at this time of the year)? You can try an oral antihistamine like chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily, which is over the counter at the drug store. Yes, it’s a pill, but they do make a liquid version. You can try it for a day or two to see if you see a difference.

      Sounds like he is one of the lucky ones to be rescued. Good on you for fostering.

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