British Study Reveals 1.4 Million Pet Owners Give Their Pets Human Meds to Avoid Veterinary Expenses

One-third of pet owners who participated in the study have given their pets anti-histamines, antiseptic creams and even protein shakes.

Over one million British pet owners admitted to giving their pets medication designed for human consumption.


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One of the biggest complaints veterinarians hear is that the cost of veterinary care is too expensive. While some pet owners get pet insurance, make payments or find some other means of paying for it, one-third of the 1,000 pet owners surveyed in a recent British study have taken matters into their own hands by giving their pets human medications rather than paying veterinary fees.

The study, conducted by pet insurance company MORE TH>N, revealed that one in 11 pet owners have given their pets over-the-counter medication, including anti-histamines, paracetamol, antiseptic creams, ibuprofen and aspirin. According to the study, pet owners gave these medications to their cats and dogs for issues such as “injured paws to cuts to insect and nettle stings.” The pet owners also admitted giving their pets these medications an average of seven times over the last year.

When asked why they gave human medication to their dogs and cats, 35 percent of the surveyed pet owners “claimed they were trying to avoid incurring vet costs, 21 percent didn’t feel the injury or ailment warranted a trip to the vets, 33 percent of those polled felt compelled to give their pet some form of quick pain relief after seeing them suffering and 27 percent believed that over-the-counter human medications were actually safe for pets to consume.”

In addition to over-the-counter medication for ailments, 5 percent of the surveyed pet owners admitted to giving their pets “protein shakes and bars, as well as diet pills, vitamins and exercise supplements.”

Again, those surveyed were asked why they gave these products to their pets. The study reveals that “21 percent believed it would help their pets get in shape and improve their stamina, 40% felt it was a good idea to help the pet lose weight more quickly, 35 percent believed it would make their pet more healthy and 6 percent admitted they did it ‘so my pet would look more impressive in public.’”

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Andrew Moore, BVM&S MRCVS and pet claims veterinary consultant for MORE TH>N, responded to the survey results by saying, “Pet owners risk significant harm to their pet’s wellbeing by giving them medicines designed for humans with liver failure and kidney damage among a litany of potential health complications that arise from seemingly harmless over the counter products. Alongside medication purpose-designed for animals, as vets we may actually also use forms of human medication in the treatment of veterinary patients. However, dosing and delivery is everything, and only a veterinary professional can know the safe quantity of any medicine to administer to an animal.”

He 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 therefore 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.”

Pet owners giving their dogs and cats human medication is likely not limited to the U.K. Have any of your clients revealed that they’ve given their pet human medication? Or worse, diet pills and protein bars?

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