As awareness of pet well-being becomes more widespread, pet owners are doing more to ensure that their pets’ quality of life stays at its best. Efforts to do so include the purchase of pet medications to ease pain, fight infections, and improve chronic health conditions.
However, bringing more pet medications into the home has had an unintended consequence: more children are accessing dangerous, unguarded pet medication. Since many pet medications contain the same active ingredients as drugs intended for human use, pet owners with children are putting their kids in danger.
A Study on the Frequency of Pet Medicine Consumption in Children
The Journal of Pediatrics recently published a study that found that throughout the years of 1999 to 2013, the Central Ohio Poison Center fielded 1431 calls from people seeking help for their children 19 years of age and younger who had ingested pet medications.
Among the various data, the research group concluded that children 5 years of age and younger are at the highest risk for exposure to drugs prescribed by veterinarians to pets. Researchers also concluded that awareness campaigns that spread information about the opportunity for children to ingest pet medications are minimal to nonexistent.
What Is the Danger to Kids Who Ingest Pet Medicine?
So far, of the calls answered by the poison center, only 80 cases have been referred to a healthcare facility. Of all the cases, only two ended in a moderate compromise of health. The researchers believe that most exposure to pet medicine by children will not result in an outcome that requires emergency medical attention.
However, the data collected is a small sample in a particular geographical region. Because pet medicines often contain active ingredients that work on humans, children remain at risk of overdose. Even at low dosages tailored to treat animals at low weights, kids can quickly ingest large amounts of dangerous ingredients without realizing that they have done so.
What Can We Do About It?
Because pediatric exposure to pet medications has not caused any major reported incidents, the best way to ensure the health of children is to advocate for awareness. Already, public efforts to increase awareness are building.
Veterinarians must also be responsible for informing patients of pet medication safety techniques such as proper dispensation procedures, home storage practices, and emergency contact information for parents who believe their children may be at risk of ingesting pet medicine. Poisoning from all types of medication, including pet and human medication, account for nearly a million Poison Control calls per year and 60,000 visits to the emergency room. Raising awareness of the dangers of pet medications to children may also help to reduce the combined total of pet and human medication exposure-related visits for kids.