Medications are found throughout our lives. Many of us have a medicine cabinet packed full of all sorts of things – from aspirin to Advil.

However, many of these medications are downright dangerous for our dogs. The dosages are often all wrong, as people are much larger than most canines. Even a little of some medications can have severe consequences for our dog’s health.

We recommend keeping your medication up and away from your dog. Never leave any out on the counter. You never know when your dog will suddenly turn into a counter-surfer.

Here is a shortlist of some of the most dangerous human medications for dogs.

1. Acetaminophen

Out of all the pain medications out there, Tylenol is probably one of the most popular. Nearly everyone has this pain-reliever in their house, which provides your dog with plenty of opportunities to consume it.

However, this medication is typically not suitable for dogs. It can easily lead to liver failure since the dosage is often higher than our dogs need. In substantial doses, it can cause red blood cell damage and death very quickly.

If your canine snags some acetaminophen, you should seek veterinary care right away.

Some doses of Tylenol are safe for dogs, but pills designed for humans are often much too concentrated. Smaller dogs will usually have more of a problem than larger dogs due to their smaller size.

While dogs can suffer after consuming Tylenol, cats are often worse off. They don’t have the proper proteins to metabolize these drugs, causing even more severe problems.


NSAIDs include many common drugs, including Advil, Aleve, and Motrin. These drugs are common in most households. You likely have at least one in your cabinet – if not all three. These medications are safe for people in the dosages sold at the store. However, they are much too concentrated for most dogs.

Even one pill can cause serious side effects, including ulcers and kidney failure. The higher the dosage, the more likely side effects will occur.

Symptoms often include:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloody stools
  • Lethargy
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Stomach ulcers

As with most drugs, small dogs often have worse symptoms due to their lower body weight. Veterinary care is required for all dogs after they consume these medications.

3. ADD/ADHD Medication

Many brand-name ADD and ADHD medications are dangerous for our dogs. Even slight consumption can lead to seizures, elevated body temperatures, heart problems, and tremors. These can be easily life-threatening if they aren’t treated promptly.

These medications are widespread in many homes, and children typically handle them. Be sure your kids understand the potential dangers of these drugs and keep them put up somewhere correctly.

Dogs are very prone to getting these medications, likely because children often leave them out. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do after your canine consumes these medications. Most vets will perform supportive care until the drug is out of their system.

4. Albuterol

Albuterol is a common asthma medication. Many people have asthma in the United States, which makes these drugs quite common. If they are left out, it is only a matter of time before your dog consumes one. Like all medications, they need to be put up and secured to prevent accidental consumption.

If eaten by a dog, these drugs can cause rapid heart rate, lethargy, and weakness. Death is not super familiar with this drug, but it can happen. We recommend taking your dog to the vet right away. A rapid heart rate can potentially be dangerous if it is not treated promptly.

Albuterol is sometimes prescribed to dogs. However, the dosages in human medication are much too high.

Symptoms of toxicity include:

  • Panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Glazed eyes
  • Agitation
  • Shaking
  • Weakness

All formulations cause issues. However, some may produce symptoms within minutes of exposure, while others may only cause symptoms later. All types are equally dangerous, though time-release medications allow the dog owner to seek veterinary attention before severe symptoms occur.

5. Pseudoephedrine

Sudafed is a common allergy and cold medication used in many households. You may have come up in your cabinet now. While this medication can help us breathe a bit better during the winter months, it can be potentially dangerous for our canines.

One 30 mg tablet can produce serious side effects in 20-pound dogs. Smaller dogs will experience worse symptoms, while larger dogs may need to eat more than one tablet before developing issues.

Toxicity side effects are often seen as quickly as 30 minutes after ingestion. Therefore, if your dog consumes one of these tablets, it is essential to seek veterinary care right away.

Symptoms include vomiting, blood pressure problems, abnormal heart problems, tremors, and seizures. Life-threatening problems can exist.

6. Sleep Aids

All sleep aids are toxic to canines. While they may reduce stress and allow people to sleep, these medications are often a bit too strong for our canines. However, the symptoms aren’t what you’d always expect.

About half of the dogs who take these drugs become hyperactive instead of sedated. An over-sedated dog can cause all sorts of problems. However, hyperactive dogs can experience life-threatening symptoms too.

Often, incoordination, lethargy, and shallow breathing are common symptoms. Live failure can occur in some cases, but this is more common in cats. Some dogs may become aggressive after ingestion; others may be severely sedated.

You should seek veterinary care right away, as these medications can produce serious side effects very quickly. Often, dogs will become so sedated that they stop breathing.

Sometimes, dogs have prescribed sleep aids, especially if they have anxiety or similar problems. However, the dosages given to them are much lower. You should never attempt to self-medicate your canine using your medications.


Most human medications are toxic to dogs. Their dosages are often far too high for our smaller pets. Even large dogs are smaller than the average person, which can make medications troublesome.

We’ve included many of the most common medications on this list. However, it is safe to assume that most items in your medicine cabinet are toxic to canines. Some may be prescribed to dogs in some situations, but the doses are often much lower than those given to humans.

The dogs most likely to snatch up and ingest pills lying around are dogs with high food drive, such as Golden Retrievers, Huskies, Pitbulls and their mixes as well as Beagles. Of course, you need to be careful with any dog breed around medications – never assume that your dog won’t take it, instead always lock up any drugs.

If somehow your canine does consume any medication, you should call your vet right away. Be sure to note the type and dose of medication you think your dog consumed. Often, it can be hard to tell. But if you know how much your dog ate, it can be beneficial for their treatment.

Some vets may take a wait-and-see approach depending on the medication and dog. However, others will want you to come in right away.

GUEST BLOG BY: Steffi Trott, Founder of SpiritDog Training.

Either way, prevention is often the best option. Put your medication up and instruct everyone in your house to do the same.

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Many purrs and barks,

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