5 Common Human Medications That are Dangerous to Pets

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 @ 08:40 AM


As a pet owner, you know mischief is inevitable from time to time. We all can expect to see the occasional shoe that turns into their favorite chew toy or that one leg of the kitchen table claimed as the new scratching post when we bring a new little one to their forever home. Unfortunately, this same type of mischief can sometimes pose a potential health risk to your beloved pets.

There are many human medications, both over- the- counter and prescriptions, that can be dangerous to your pet. Some of these medications are commonly found in many households that can be hidden dangers to your pet. So what can you do to make sure your pet is protected?


Antidepressants must only be given under the strict supervision of your vet and can only be prescribed by a professional. These medications can cause significant health issues when given incorrectly. These antidepressants can include issues like:

  • Dangerously Elevated Heart Rate
  • Increase in Blood Pressure
  • Rise in Body Temperature
  • Sedation
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

These medications can include Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac and Lexapro, just to name a few. Felines have been known to enjoy the way Effexor tastes and will consume an entire pill if given the chance. But just one Effexor can poison your cat.

Sleep Aides and Benzodiazepines

Many of us use over-the-counter or prescription sleep aides from time to time. Sometimes, benzodiazepines are given to humans to treat anxiety and other conditions. But these medications are also dangerous to your furry friends.

If your dog gets into your sleeping aids, like Ambien or Lunesta, these meds may work the opposite and he or she can become agitated instead of sedated. Our feline friends may experience liver failure if some forms of benzodiazepines are ingested like Xanax and Klonopin.


NSAIDs are perhaps the most commonly household find. These are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. We know them as Advil, Aleve, and Motrin, just to name a few.

But these medications don't work that way for our furry friends. If they get a hold of just one or two, it could cause them some serious problems. This applies to a variety of pets from dogs and cats to birds, ferrets and more. When ingested, our fur babies can experience intestinal ulcers and serious stomach issues.


The most popular medication in this category is Tylenol. While this works great for our minor back pain, arthritis, and other ailments, acetaminophen should never be given to pets -- especially cats. Our cuddly felines can experience damage to their red blood cells, which will limit how well they can carry oxygen. Larger doses can lead to canine liver failure.

ADD/ADHD Medication

Medications like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta contain a potent combination of stimulants including, methylphenidate and amphetamines. Just a small amount can be life-threatening to your pets. They can experience symptoms including:

  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Elevated Temperatures
  • Heart Issues

Birth Control

The packaging of your birth control is something that dogs just can't resist. If they do get into them, this can cause significant issues for your pet. Small doses generally don't cause problems, but this isn't the case when dealing with larger mishaps. Unspayed females can be susceptible to estrogen poisoning. Bone marrow suppression can happen as well, particularly in birds.

Partner With A Professional

If you are thinking of giving your pet people medication, it's always best to talk with your vet. You simply can't go wrong with professional partners when it comes to your pet's care. In the case of an emergency, you should contact a professional or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680

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Topics: early detection, dog care, cat care

November: National Pet Cancer Awareness month

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Mon, Nov 07, 2016 @ 12:16 PM

pet cancer.jpgThanks to the continual advancement of veterinary medicine, dogs and cats are living longer and healthier lives. We love hearing how pet care is evolving and support the continual research and development of all areas of veterinary care, especially cancer prevention, treatment and awareness. As an AAHA certified hospital (certified by the American Animal Hospital Association), the Halifax Veterinary Hospitals are committed to providing the best technology and healthcare for your pets – including cancer treatment.

We abide by the 2016 AAHA Oncology Guidelines for Dogs and Cats and use its resources and tips for diagnosing various tumor types; determining the stage of cancer; evaluating treatment options such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and adjunctive medications; follow-up care; safety protocols; and other considerations for determining the approach best suited to each individual patient.

The AAHA guidelines emphasize the importance of good communication with pet owners and we could not agree more. Our veterinary staff is always here for pet parents who may have questions regarding a cancer diagnosis and want to ensure them that we understand how difficult deciding the right course of treatment for your pet can be. We like to think of ourselves as your personal support team; we are here to help you from the moment you bring your pet into the hospital. We want to ensure our patients and their owners are comfortable. Most of us are proud pet owners too and because of that our lives revolve around the health and wellbeing of pets.

Pet Cancer Detection Tips

To detect cancer early, pet owners should be attentive to any growing lumps or sores on their pet that fail to heal. They should also monitor their pet for: 1) drastic changes in the pet’s appetite or weight; 2) unusually strong odors coming from a pet; 3) discharge or bleeding from any body opening; 4) difficulty chewing or swallowing; or 5) an unwillingness to exercise.

Halifax Veterinary Hospital, Fairview Animal Hospital and Spryfield Animal Hospital are offer preventive and early detection medical care. If you think your pet may have a health issue, don’t hesitate to call us today. We are here to help.

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Topics: animal hospital, early detection, pet cancer

Know your pets normal

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 @ 07:28 AM

Many times pet owners do not notice the slow changes that happen in their pet's health Early Detection Packagesuntil it reaches a critical stage. Then they are forced to take their pet into an emergency room for immediate care. This is why it is so important for pet owner's to know their pets normal. Taking time to observe your pet and recognize what is normal behavior will make you more alert when small changes begin and will help your veterinarian when you take your pet in for care.

Normal things to watch for in your pet

When you know what is normal for your pet and notice any changes in them, you should contact your veterinarian immediately in case medical attention is required. Things to watch for in your pet as "normals" are:

  • Color of tongue and gums should be pink in color. If you notice they have turned a pale white color or blue, you should get your pet to a vet as soon as possible.
  • Watch how your pet breaths when they are resting or sleeping. Each time their chest rises or falls composes a breath and when resting it is normal for cats and dogs to breath 40 times in a minute. They will naturally breathe more when active, so knowing their resting rate is important.
  • Know how long your pet is normally active in a day. How long do they play and what is their pattern of behavior after play time? If you notice their play time is shortening and their breathing pattern is changing it may be an indication of a health issue. If they are generally very active and social and start to become anti-social and uninterested in interactions it also may be a sign of a medical condition. Take your pet to your veterinarian if you notice any of these changes.
  • Monitor and know your pet's normal appetite and drinking patterns. Knowing how much they generally eat and drink in a day and then seeing a noticeable change in these patterns is also a sign they may have a medical concern.
  • Early detection is the best way to be proactive
  • Having a routine preventive care checkup with your veterinarian can also establish a normal baseline for your pet. When you have this baseline established while your pet is young and healthy it will keep your veterinarian aware of any concerns when you take them in each time. Older or senior pets benefit from preventive care as well as your veterinarian will be able to detect disease in the early stage and be able to better treat them.
  • Halifax Veterinary Hospital, Fairview Animal Hospital, and Spryfield Animal Hospital have early detection packages available for you to ensure your pet stays healthy. They offer early detection packages that will include your pet's annual exam and vaccines:
  • Hematology and blood chemistries- This will establish a baseline of your pet's kidney, liver, pancreatic, and other systems allowing them to know what is normal for your pet and allow them to know if any changes are occurring in your pet. It will also alert them to any signs of infections or anemia.
  • Urinalysis- This is a test to check for any abnormal cells in your pet. It will also allow them to determine your pet's kidney health and whether or not there are any bacteria or crystals present.
  • Urine protein/urine creatinine ratio is a way to measure how well your pet's kidneys are managing their workload. 

Know your pet, know your pet's normal and know when it's time to see your veterinarian.

Early Detection Packages

Topics: early detection

Early detection packages at Halifax Vets

Posted by Kyle Long on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 @ 02:30 PM

describe the imageAt Halifax Veterinary Hospitals, we focus much of our attention on preventative and exceptional health care for your pets. As the saying goes “things are not always as they seem” and could prove to be true for your furry friend.

Although health complications normally carry along visible symptoms to our eyes, the preliminary stages of some conditions and diseases can go unnoticed and untreated until it’s almost, if not already, too late. Pet health care has come a long way, and as such, early detection technologies are now readily available.

Routine preventative care (like getting an annual early detection exam) can help your veterinarian understand the normal baseline laboratory values for your pet while they’re young, happy and healthy. Identifying diseases is easiest when you have values to compare to when running tests for certain health ailments. 

Even if your pet has not had an early detection exam before, senior pets can benefit from going for these exams as they will help detect diseases in their early stages and help make sure your pet will be more likely to respond positively to medical treatment. As well, early detection can also help you avoid significant medical expenses and risks to your pet’s health.

With these early detection packages, several health conditions and diseases can be detected in their infancy stages. The three top-level tests check blood chemistries and hematology, urinalyses and urine protein/ creatinine ratio.

  • Blood chemistries and hematology looks for signs of kidney, liver, pancreatic and other systemic diseases including anemia and signs of infection
  • Urinalysis looks for bacteria, crystals or abnormal cells in the urine and helps to determine how well the kidneys are able to concentrate your pet’s urine
  • Urine protein/creatinine ratios are checked to see a more accurate measurement of how well the kidneys are able to manage their workload

Not only will all of these results be kept on file for each time you bring your pet in, you will be provided a copy of your pet’s results that is colour coded to help you recognize abnormal values. By being proactive and taking your pet for annual detection examinations, your pet will be much better off. Pets are prone to many diseases through out their lives, much like humans. The technologies are out there to help you keep your pet happy and healthy, why not take advantage of them today?

If you’d like more information on early detection packages and specifics on what can be detected, click here. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian, click below!

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Topics: Halifax vet, veterinary hospital, animal hospital, dog care, cat care, early detection

An Unexpected Diagnosis

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 @ 07:47 AM

by Emily Reiner, DVM

Lily was a healthy, happy, active, 5-year-old bulldog, living a carefree life on the Halifax peninsula, until one day her life was suddenly in jeopardy. There was very little warning that anything was amiss inside Lily's little body, except for a brief illness at the end of October from which she seemed to recover quickly and completely. Her owners were pleased that they had their cheerful companion back, but soon they noticed that her behaviour was changing – she seemed thirsty all the time and they had trouble keeping her food dish full. They brought her to the Halifax Veterinary Hospital to make sure she was all right, and even though she looked very good on her physical exam, blood and urine samples were sent away to make sure there were no hidden problems.

When the blood and urine results arrived the next day, they showed that her urine had protein in it and was not well-concentrated. Lily was still feeling pretty good at this time, so further testing was set up for the following week to help identify the cause of these changes. Over the weekend, Lily deteriorated drastically. By Tuesday she could barely walk, she wouldn't eat, she vomited whatever she drank, and she was extremely lethargic. Her belly seemed tender and she was obviously dehydrated. Hospital staff rushed to take blood again to see why she was so ill, and found that her kidney values were suddenly elevated – a huge change from a few days earlier. This suggested that Lily was in acute renal failure, but why? Her veterinarian reviewed all her bloodwork for clues, and after careful consideration found that there were a few other minor changes from the previous week that suggested a possible, if unlikely, diagnosis: Leptospirosis. But surely a well-cared-for pet dog living and playing on Halifax's peninsula wouldn't have been exposed to a bacterial infection spread through wildlife urine! Still, samples were once again drawn and sent away to check for the presence of Leptospira bacteria.

Lily was hospitalized and started on IV fluids, antibiotics, and pain management while waiting for the test results. The diagnosis seemed so unlikely, but because Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal infection which can also affect humans, it was important to treat her as though she was infected in order to give her the best chance of survival and to protect hospital staff and her own family. The next evening, the results were in: this was indeed Leptospirosis. 

The Atlantic Veterinary College estimates that treatment for Leptospirosis takes up to three weeks of hospitalization and can cost $6000-8000. Even with treatment, approximately 30% of affected dogs will still die. Lily's treatment in Halifax was no exception – it was long, intensive, and often heartbreaking for her owners. Any small improvement seemed to be offset by yet another setback, and Lily was almost humanely euthanized on three separate occasions. At the last minute, when her chances of recovery seemed dire, her kidney values stabilized and her owners and her veterinarian decided to give her “one more day.” Overnight, she finally turned the corner and started eating again. Her energy returned, and day by day she continued to improve under the loving care of her owners at home. 

Lily had a happy ending, but her difficult illness will never be forgotten by her family or her friends at Halifax Vet. Leptospirosis is a very serious disease which can affect people as well as dogs, so the best medicine in this case is prevention. Luckily, there is a vaccine that protects against the most common strains of Leptospirosis. It is available at any veterinary hospital, and it could just save your best friend's life.

Topics: veterinary hospital, animal hospital, dog care, vet halifax, early detection

Help Your Family Pet Stay Healthy with Preventive Medicine

Posted by Melanie Taljaard on Thu, Oct 17, 2013 @ 05:31 PM

Your cat or dog is a member of your family. When you adopted him, you found a vet to followhealthy pets his health and diagnose any illnesses. If your pet’s health was normal, he got his vaccines and you were told to return for his next exam. As your pet grows older, he is at risk for developing some illnesses, just as you are. Early detection pet care keeps him healthy while he is young and makes treatment of any later illnesses more likely to be successful.

Age and its Connection to Illness

When your pet is young – a puppy or kitten – he is much more likely to be healthy and able to fight off illness. As he gets older, however, it gets harder for his body to fight off illness. He enters his senior years at about the time he turns seven. And, just like with his human counterparts, certain health conditions are more likely to begin developing. 

If you don’t know what signs or symptoms to look for, you may not know he’s developing coronary disease, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease or even cancer. By the time you notice symptoms, his condition may already be advanced.  Early detection pet care means you can offer him the best.

º Dogs weighing 50 to over 90 pounds at 6 years of age are considered seniors, with their ages in human years ranging from 45 to 49;

º A 9-year-old dog weighing 20 to 50 pounds is a 56-year-old senior;

º The same dog weighing 20 pounds or less is 52 years old and a senior.

º At the age of 9, a cat weighing up to 20 pounds is a 52-year-old senior.

The Value of Early Disease Detection

Every year, you take your pet to your veterinarian for his annual vaccines and a physical exam. Now there is a little more you can do to ensure the most proactive approach to your pets health.  An early detection pet care package can help her to find early signs of illness, because, as your pet ages, she begins looking for signs of illness in each of your pet’s body systems – pancreatic illness, kidney and liver disease.

This early detection care package consists of blood testing; blood work that can detect anemia, infection, kidney, liver, pancreatic or another disease. Another test in the package measures the levels of protein and creatinine in his urine so she can see how well his kidneys are working. Another test in the early detection pet care package is a urine test to check for abnormal cells, crystals or bacteria.

Early Detection Package

Early detection packages include a copy of your pet’s test results. As well the vet will explain each test and what it means for your pet. Ideally, any any unusual or abnormal results should be color coded so you can find them more easily. 

Once your veterinarian begins to see test results that fall into the abnormal range, she begins looking for any illnesses that could be causing those results. Early detection pet care helps her develop a treatment plan that keeps your pet healthier for a longer time.

How Early Detection Protects Your Pet

Some illnesses are “silent” and they develop slowly. By the time you realize something is wrong, the damage has been done, especially if your pet has developed diabetes. 

Early detection pet care can help your vet diagnose abnormal electrolyte levels, thyroid conditions and diabetes. If your pet has had to take medication long-term, early detection can also find any abnormalities that come from taking medication so your vet can find a different medication or treatment.

Interested in learning more?

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Topics: animal hospital, dog care, cat care, early detection