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.

The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats
Walker Valley Vet





  1. Eleanor Bray says:

    Hi we have a 11 year old female staff who scratches herself silly. She is on predisolone but nothing has changed. What can we do ?

    • isak says:

      Is she scratching just one area or is she itchy all over? Is she current on flea medication? If so, I would suggest changing her food. Look at the label for what you are feeding her now. Maybe it contains a grain she is reacting to. Try food that does not contain grains or a food that contains a different protein source. If you feed her mostly dry, try adding canned to the top so you are feeding half dry and half canned. Also if you feed dry, add some water and let it soften before you feed her.

  2. Angela says:

    I rescued a 2-3 weeks old kitten who’s mother got scared off by workmen near her “nest”. It was freezing out and I didn’t know if she was coming back. Anyway, the switch to kitten formula has given him diarrhea. It seems he also has hemorrhoids with bloody stool. I tried Desitin as recommended by the vet but his anus still seems swollen and sore. He cries when I clean it. Other than this, he is doing good. He has started solid cat food as per vet to supplement the bottle and he sleeps well. He’s alert when awake and just started walking. I am just concerned for his bulging bottom. I read No Preparation H for cats and will try Witch Hazel. Any other advice?

    • isak says:

      Congrats on your rescue.

      Definitely no Preparation H or anything else that could harm them if ingested because he will like that area.

      Has your vet physically examined the kitten or was the suggestion to try Desitin made over them phone? I ask because hemmorhoids in kittens is unusual. Given that he has diarrhea should rule out any problems from constipation, but it does not rule out intestinal parasites which can be common in kittens. If you have not done so, have the vet test a stool sample.

      Another possibility is that he could have infected/impacted anal glands which can assess. They are located on either side of the anus. Anal gland infections or impactions often require expressing and antibiotic treatment.

  3. Sandra Grace says:

    Cat with growth in ear causing infection. very expensive surgery to remove growth is there anything else I can do. He Has had 3 kinds of antibiotics. Is carbonic salve safe for him?

    • isak says:

      What kind of growth and where in the ear? What is the infection that it is causing? Are the antibiotics not working? If the growth has been increasing in size, there may be no better option than having it removed. Maybe you can check with other vets to see if one offers a better price?

      As for the carbonic salve, it may not work if the growth is embedded under the skin. And it may be harmful to your cat if he ingests the salve by trying to clean his ear and licking it off his paw. I’m sorry I do not have a better suggestion. If the growth is resisting the antibiotics, you may need to consider the surgery.

  4. Mary says:

    Have 4 month old kitten whomafter surgery was sent home with a fentanyl patch. When patch was removed an inch by inch area was left with sticky adhesive from the patch. Any suggestions on how to get the adhesive off her bare skin?

    • isak says:

      There is a sticky tape remover product under various names that you can purchase at Walgreens, CVS, etc.

      You can also try this recipe:
      Mix together 2 tsp of baking powder or Borax with enough white vinegar to make a paste. The baking powder will help break down the sticky tape residue and the vinegar is a natural acidic cleaner that will help leave the surface glue-free.

      Or this one:
      1?3 cup coconut oil
      1?4 cup baking soda
      10 drops sweet orange, grapefruit or lemon (optional degreaser)

      Good luck!

  5. Tiffany says:

    Hi my cat has a absis and it looks fairly clean just loss of hair around it and bruising but fairly clean hole so I am using salt and warm water… Also using metipulv antiseptic powder is that okay to use.?

    • isak says:

      You didn’t say where the wound is, but you don’t want your cat licking the powder from either the wound or from its paw after scratching the wound. The metipulv antiseptic powder may not be necessary if the salt water solution is working which it sounds like it is if the wound is clean.

  6. Carl Barnes says:

    Thankyou for this site I’ve already found a lot of info I didr find anywhere else

  7. Shawn says:

    Wow! I am so happy to have found this site! It has amazing information!

    I have a ten year old cat that I believe needs to have one or several teeth that need to be pulled. We are in a tight financial situation right now but, we will be back on our feet very soon. At that time I will be taking him back into the vet and get him back to normal.
    He has scratched the top of his head so much that he is now bald and has scabs all over him. Is there something I can do to help him with pain and start healing his head so he can feel better?

    Thank you in advance!

    • isak says:

      Why is your cat scratching the top of his head? The first thing to do is remedy that problem else he will just keep scratching. Does he have a flea allergy maybe?

      As for his scabs, wash him (if that’s possible) with a gentle shampoo containing colloidal oatmeal to soothe his skin. You can make a natural tea out of sprigs of fresh catnip and apply the liquid with a cotton ball to your cat’s skin to relieve itching, or bathe him in it.

      You can also supplement his diet with fish oils containing omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids to help combat aracadonic acid in your cat’s system, which causes inflammation, and they improve skin’s hydration. Fatty acid cat supplements are available through veterinarians and in pet supply stores.

      Keep an eye on those teeth. The bacteria associated with bad teeth can cause other more serious health issues. Generally a vet will prescribe an appropriate med to take for a few days address the infection before removing any teeth.

  8. Pam says:

    My cat gets Uti infections with stress. She locks that area over and over, until it is raw and bleeding. Is there a human creme to put on it that would both discourage the excessive licking, as well as healing that area while she heals from her UTI? Also, something I can give her for her UTI to heal it, without paying astronomical Vet bills each time? We have reached 5 feral cats, and simply can’t run to the vet for everything. Thanks!

    • isak says:

      The licking could be an indication of pain. If you have ever had a UTI, you know they are painful. So I would suggest that you have a vet check her out because if she is licking due to pain, she will not stop until the pain stops. The vet can provide the appropriate meds. Anything you apply externally in that area will be licked off before it can do any good unless she wears an e-collar. If the area is getting raw from the licking, you can wipe it a few times a day with a salt water solution (2 teaspoons of table salt per cup of warm water). Salt has natural anti-bacterial properties.

      She could maybe have cystitis (which can be stress related) and not a UTI. That requires a different course of treatment. So best to have her evaluated by a vet in this situation.

  9. KC says:

    I have a one year old cocker spaniel who seems to have an allergic rash, itch to his nylon collar or he has a reaction to the new groomer or he got bit by a bug outside Can I use Preparation H anti-itch cream Hydrocortisone on the affected area?

    • isak says:

      Yes, you can. If the bug bite appears swollen, red and warm to the touch, it may be in the process of becoming infected. You can apply a warm compress of a salt water solution (2 teaspoons of table salt per cup of warm water) to the bite a couple times a day. Salt has anti-bacterial qualities.

  10. Cris says:

    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.

  11. 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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