Last year, human medications sickened more pets across the country than any other toxin.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more than 167,000 calls about pets exposed to potentially harmful human medications were fielded in its office alone.
The medications are either accidentally ingested when the pet owner drops the pills on the floor or are given on purpose.
"A lot of people assume that if a Tylenol will help their pain, it will probably help their pet's pain as well, but that's not true," said Dr. Eric Clough, a veterinarian at Burch Creek Animal Hospital in Ogden.
"Some of the medications we take can cause some severe toxicities in your pet."
The most common poisoning Clough sees is from over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin. Because pets are sensitive to even a very small dose, they can experience stomach and intestinal ulcers, liver problems and even kidney damage.
"Another type of medication we see that is very dangerous to animals are the antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, such as Prozac and Xanax," Clough said.
"Some people also give their pets antibiotics from their medicine cabinets. We've also seen pets who have ingested heart and blood-pressure medications."
Antidepressants can cause vomiting and lethargy, according to the ASPCA. Some antidepressants can cause serotonin syndrome, a condition causing agitation; elevated body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure; tremors; seizures; and disorientation.
Other medications that topped the list include medications used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; fluorouracil, a cancer medication; isoniazid, used for tuberculosis; pseudoephedrine, a popular decongestant; diabetes medication; vitamin D derivatives; and baclofen, a muscle relaxant.
"A lot of information is being released in veterinary journals about menopausal and topical hormonal replacement sprays and creams," Clough said. "If these get onto your pet's skin, they can be absorbed (into) their bloodstream."
Clough said the most important thing pet owners can do is to keep their medications locked up and away from Fido and Fluffy.
When taking medication, hold the bottle over a sink in case the pills fall out of the bottle, and always call your veterinarian if you have questions, he said.
"Fielding questions is part of our job. We would much rather give you an alternative than to have you give your pet something dangerous," Clough said.
The ASPCA also listed other toxins to pets. Besides human medications, pet owners should keep their animals out of chocolate, sugarless gum, grapes, raisins, garlic, onions, cleaning supplies, antifreeze, herbicides, fertilizers, rodenticides and certain plants such as lilies and tulips.
Clough said the sooner a pet is treated, the better the potential outcome.
You can also call the National Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. There is a fee, but Clough said it's worth every penny when it comes to saving the life of a beloved pet.