Over the counter drugs and products to avoid for your pets: Pt 1
October 11, 2021
Tuesday October 12th: The Pharisee in Us
October 12, 2021

Over the counter drugs and products to avoid for your pets: Pt 2

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

We continue the list of products and at-home remedies for pets that should be avoided. Read Part 1 9insert hyperlink)

Black disinfectant/ Car Oil

Application of black disinfectant or car oil is a common outdated practice that has been used in treatment of overtly unpleasant skin conditions that resemble the signs of mange, such as severe irritation, itchiness and hair loss. While the principle behind this practice does draw some merit from effectiveness by smothering the organisms present in the skin, it is not recommended as these chemicals can be toxic and cause burns leading to even more discomfort and irritation or toxicity. There is a greater availability of a wide range of far more suitable treatment options for highly irritable skin conditions. These treatments are easily accessible and are a much simpler fix for these conditions, without the risk of causing harmful effects.


The addition of garlic to the diet is commonly believed to be an effective flea and tick preventative for dogs. However, this is a practice that can be detrimental to you pet in the long run, as garlic is toxic to both dogs and cats. Garlic and other foods of the allium family, including onions, contains a compound called thiosulphate. Thiosulphate causes oxidative damage to red blood cells eventually leading to hemolytic anemia. This condition reduces the bodies capacity to stay adequately oxygenated and results in pale mucous membranes, rapid breathing, lethargy and weakness. Jaundice, and dark colored urine can also be seen. Gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, depression, and dehydration can also result due to toxicity.


Antihistamines such as Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and Chlorphenamine (Piriton) are commonly used to relieve allergy symptoms or counteract allergic reactions. Their use in pets is usually safe, at the right dose but drowsiness or hyperactivity are common effects. It is important to note that antihistamine preparations may contain other ingredients such as decongestants that are not safe for dogs. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the product only contains antihistamines. Always be guided by a veterinarian to the appropriate antihistamine and dose to use.

Diphenhydramine can also be used to treat motion sickness, and vomiting or as a mild sedative. It is also one of the treatments for mast cell tumours.

The most common side effects are lethargy, dry mouth, and urinary retention. Vomiting, diarrhoea, and lack of appetite are also possible. Excitement rather than lethargy can occur occasionally, especially in cats. Pets with liver or kidney disease can have prolonged effects.

Dimenhydrinate, the active drug in Dramamine and Gravol, is an antihistamine used as a preventative to motion sickness and to treat nausea, especially in dogs with vestibular disease. It also has sedative properties and can be used to reduce itchiness associated with allergies. Its use in cats and dogs to treat nausea and motion sickness is ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. The most common side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, and difficulty urinating. Other less common side effects include diarrhoea, vomiting, and lack of appetite. Serious side effects, indicative of overdose include seizures and coma.


Topical steroidal creams

OTC steroid preparations contain a lower percentage of active ingredients than prescription steroids and are usually very safe. They are commonly used to decrease the itchiness of insect bites, hot spots, or mild skin irritations. However, steroids tend to delay healing especially in infected wounds and should not be used on fungal infections.

Topical antibiotic creams

Topical antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin and triple antibiotic ointment are commonly used topical antibiotic for minor wounds. Use of these ointments are safe in dogs and cats. However, due to the grooming nature of cats, use of topical ointments should be limited. Always verify that the ointment only contains antibiotic and not steroids, before use on certain conditions, to avoid delayed healing. Ensure that the wound is properly cleaned before application of any ointment and try to prevent licking by the use of cones or bandages.


Over the counter drugs and products to avoid for your pets: Pt 2

Giving your pet home treatments? Hold on that