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Pseudoephedrine Can Be Deadly to Pets

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has warned pet owners that pseudoephedrine—an ingredient found in certain cold, allergy, and sinus medications commonly used for the relief of nasal congestion in humans—can be extremely dangerous to pets.

“Pseudoephedrine has a very narrow margin of safety in dogs, cats and other animals,” warns Dr. Steve Hansen, veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center . “This means that it does not take much of the drug to cause a serious problem.”

For example, as little as one tablet containing 30 milligrams of pseudoephedrine could produce clinical signs in a 20-pound dog, including nervousness, hyperactivity, and other behavioral changes; panting; and elevated heart rate and blood pressure. A dose as small as three 30-milligram tablets in the same size dog could be lethal.

“Depending on the form ingested,” states Dr. Hansen, “clinical effects can sometimes be seen as quickly as within 30 minutes after ingestion. Therefore, it is critical that veterinary treatment is sought quickly when an ingestion occurs.”

As with most medications, the majority of animal exposures to pseudoephedrine products are accidental (such as a pet chewing into a medication bottle or ingesting pills left unattended). However, others may occur as a result of pet owners inappropriately medicating their pets without the direction of a veterinarian.

Never administer any drug without first consulting with a veterinarian and keep pseudoephedrine and other medications well out of the reach of animals, preferably in a secure cabinet above the counter. Dr. Hansen states that “it is very important for owners to understand that even child-proof containers are not effective in preventing accidental drug exposures in pets, as dogs and other animals can easily chew open a bottle or vial.”

As with any substance, if you suspect your pet may have ingested a pseudoephedrine-containing product, contact your local veterinarian for immediate assistance.