Vets urge owners to keep cold & flu medication away from prying paws this winter

PDSA has issued an urgent warning to dog owners about storing cold and flu medication safely this winter after a puppy needed emergency treatment after swallowing ibuprofen.

Six-month-old Lilly the Labrador cross was saved with the help of vet charity PDSA, and pet emergency service Vets Now, at the Nottingham PDSA Pet Hospital after swallowing the tablets.

Lilly’s owners, Emily and Jonathan from Mansfield Woodhousenear Nottingham, were left in a complete panic. Jonathan said: “My partner and I had left the house for less than an hour and we came home to find an empty pack of painkillers with teeth marks in the foil packet, which had been taken from the bedside table. We think she’d eaten three of the tablets, but couldn’t be sure as we found a few loose tablets scattered around the house.

“She started to rapidly deteriorate and we became seriously concerned. She started swaying side to side, almost like she was drunk, became really lethargic and then started being sick. We called a local vets but our insurance for her had recently lapsed and the costs to get her seen were incredibly expensive because it was out-of-hours. We would have had to get a loan for her to be seen and treated – which we would have done – but thankfully, after a search online, we came across PDSA and gave them a call.”

After finding they were eligible for the charity’s assistance, Jonathan and his partner Emily were told to bring Lilly in immediately for urgent care with the charity’s out-of-hours provider, Vets Now.

The tablets Lilly had eaten put her at risk of life threatening stomach ulcers and were already causing her to vomit. Luckily she had not eaten enough ibuprofen to cause organ damage but the vet team needed to work quickly to prevent further problems. Lilly was given medication to protect her stomach and stop any further absorption of the toxin.

PDSA Senior Vet Sarah Brown said: “Household medicines such as ibuprofen can cause severe organ damage or death in pets. Lilly was very lucky her owners sought vet treatment which helped to avoid any long-term damage. With quick treatment and lots of TLC, she was able to go home to recover fully.

“It’s not unusual for us to see animals who have swallowed human medicines. Dogs, and especially young puppies like Lilly, are naturally curious and like to explore with their mouths. Tablets can look quite attractive to them so pet owners are advised to keep all medications in a cupboard well out of reach. If Lilly hadn’t received such prompt, thorough treatment, the story could have been very different.

Jonathan said: “We’re so grateful for PDSA and the Vets Now team who were there for us and Lilly when we needed them. Lilly is back to her bouncy puppy ways now, and we’ll be making sure to keep all medicines out of the way! We made a donation immediately after they saved her life and we will always be thankful to them.”

If your pet has ingested any medications that they shouldn’t, seek veterinary advice immediately – waiting for symptoms could be fatal.