A brand new survey has revealed a third of pet owners, 35 per cent, have fed their animals human medications in attempts of avoiding paying vet fees.
One in 10 have given over-the-counter ‘human’ pills to their pets – a third of these (36 per cent) had given their cats and dogs anti-histamines while 28 per cent opted for paracetamol.)
Ibuprofen was also a popular choice for about 17 per cent of those asked while 14 per cent fed their dog or cat regular aspirin.
The study, by pet insurer MORE TH>N, revealed the medication was dispensed for complaints which ranged from injured paws to cuts and insect and nettle stings.
On average, owners admit giving their animals human medicine up to seven times in the last 12 months.
Of the 1,000 cat and dog owners in the UK asked, 21 per cent said they gave human drugs to their pets as they did not feel the injury or ailment justified a special trip to the vets.
A third, 33 per cent, felt compelled to give their pet some type of quick pain relief after seeing them suffering and 27 per cent mistakenly believed that over-the-counter human medications were actually safe for pets to consume.
Vet Andrew Moore, pet claims veterinary consultant for MORE TH>N, states: “By giving their pets medicines designed for humans, owners risk significant harm to their animal’s wellbeing.”
“Issues like liver failure and kidney damage are among a litany of potential health complications that arise from seemingly harmless over the counter products.”
“As well as medication designed specifically for animals, as vets we may sometimes use forms of human medication in the treatment of our patients.”
“However dosing and delivery is everything. Only a veterinary professional can know the safe quantity of any medicine to administer to an animal.”
And it doesn’t seem to be just when our pets are feeling a bit under the weather than owners give their dogs or cats human products.
The survey also found five per cent of pet owners in the UK have given their dogs or cats protein shakes and bars as well as diet pills, vitamins and exercise supplements.
A third, 35 per cent, believed it would keep their pet more healthy while 40 per cent felt it was a good idea to help their dog or cat lose weight more quickly.
And sadly, six per admitted to giving their animal protein shakes and even diet pills so their dog or cat “would look more impressive in public”.
As with over the counter medications, vets do not recommend giving human supplements or health products to pets at all.
Fifteen per cent of pets reacted very badly to being given protein power, diet and caffeine pills and vitamins, and experts warn against giving health products which are not found in nature due to the potential health implications.
Dr Moore, a veterinarian, added: “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 that are not found in nature and are potentially inappropriate for animals.”
“Cats and dogs have different dietary requirements and may respond poorly to being fed artificial protein and other exercise supplements.”
“It goes without saying that diet pills and certain vitamins that are intended for human consumption shouldn’t be given to a pet, but even seemingly innocuous health products, like protein powder, should also be given a wide berth when it comes to a pet’s nutrition.”
George Lewis, head of pet insurance, MORE TH>N Pet Insurance, states: “Our research shows that 42 per cent of cat and dog owners worry more when their pet is unwell than they do when it’s their partner.”
“It may therefore come as no surprise that a number of pet owners will go to any length to help their pets – even feeding them human medication.”
“But many of these items can be toxic to a cat or dog so whatever the reasons are for considering giving human medication to a pet – only a veterinary professional can safely medicate an animal.”
“If there are any symptoms of ill health or injury, it’s vital that owners talk to their vets first.”