4 min read


Can Dogs have Human Medicine?



4 min read


Can Dogs have Human Medicine?


We see tons of images and graphics swirling around the Internet attempting to illustrate what human medicines are safe for dogs and the dosage your dog should take. Unfortunately, many of those graphics are wrong and from unreputable sources. 

When in doubt, you should not believe information on the web that is not from a trustworthy source. 

There are only a handful of human medications dogs can safely have, but only in very small quantities. Always speak to your vet first before you decide to give your dog any over-the-counter medications that are meant for humans. Also, keep in mind that many ailments plaguing your dog can be treated naturally and holistically without any dangerous side effects. 


Signs a Dog May Need Human Medications

If your dog is experiencing mild pain, has an allergic reaction, is suffering from an upset tummy, or is struggling with constipation, this means there are some human medicines your dog may benefit from. It is always the best idea for your dog to have a checkup at their vet and for your vet to recommend the proper course of action to help treat their symptoms. 

However, if your dog is having mild symptoms that they have experienced before and you know nothing is seriously wrong, sometimes over-the-counter human medications can relieve their symptoms and get them back to their normal self quickly and safely. 

If your dog is suffering from constipation, they may appear to strain when having a bowel movement. Some dogs may wince if it is painful and, often times, your dog will not be able to complete their business if they are constipated.

If your dog is suffering from a cough from a cold, many vets will prescribe human medication to help reduce their cough. Coughing in dogs can sound like choking, gagging, or honking. Coughs can either sound wet or dry, just like we see in humans as well. 

Dogs can suffer from acute allergic reactions. This means they may get an itchy rash on their skin from an irritating soap. If your dog has experienced any kind of allergic reaction before, you know what it is from, and have spoken to your vet about it, allergy medicines meant for humans can be given to your dog as well. 

Body Language

These are some signs you may notice if your dog need human medicine:

  • Whining
  • Scratching
  • Sniffing
  • Weakness
  • Raspy Panting
  • Whimpering
  • Licking
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you may notice if your dog need human medicine:

  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Allergic Reation

History of Dogs Having Human Medicine


We have learned over the years that there are a handful of safe human medications that dogs can have when they are sick or in pain. However, the use of medications in dogs, particularly human medications, is something relatively new. 

Thousands of years ago, dogs were treated with natural plants, herbs, fruits, and veggies when they were sick or hurt. Conventional Western medicine wasn't always around and people had to find effective ways to treat their sick animals without the use of laboratory-produced medicines. 

Interestingly, vet clinics are something that are a quite recent development as well. It goes back to 1917 when Maria Dickin started a new type of facility called the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals of the Poor. 

Dickin had no formal vet training and all pets were welcomed and treated, free of charge. The popularity was huge and within ten years, Dickin and her clinic treated more than 410,000 sick and injured animals! Vets at the time only treated horses and other farm animals, not smaller family pets like dogs and cats. 

Surprisingly, vets looked down on this business and were not supportive of her efforts to help save dogs' and cats' lives. Of course, this mindset did not last and the vets we rely on today welcome cats and dogs with open and loving arms. 

Science Behind Dogs Having Human Medicine


Although there are some types of human medicine that can be given to your dog, this should not be your first choice in all situations. It is always ideal to go a holistic and natural approach when possible, then seek medications specifically for dogs, and then finally turn to human medicines if you need to or don't have another option at that time. Even then, human medicine must be administered properly and in the correct dosages. 

There are some common human medications that your dog must never take, as they are toxic and can be fatal in dogs. These include:

  • Ibuprofen - this is found in medicine such as Advil, Motrin, and Nupren.  
  • Acetaminophen - this is found in Tylenol and other similar decongestions and off-brands.
  • Naproxen - Aleve is the most common human medication with this ingredient, but it may be found in other similar products as well. 

Giving Dogs Human Medicine


As we have said above, talk to your trusted vet before you give your dog any form of human medication. Your vet is the most knowledgeable recourse you have and they can direct you on the best ways to make your dog feel better with human medications. Below is a general rule of thumb and starting point to understand what human medicines are generally safe for dogs to take. All dogs are different, so not all medications will be right for all dogs. 

Pepto-Bismal can be given to your dog in small doses if they have an upset stomach, have diarrhea, and are vomiting. Vets will typically recommend giving your dog 1 teaspoon of the medicine every four to six hours for every 20 pounds. 

Benedryl is another human medication commonly given to dogs as well. This medicine will help with swelling, allergic reactions, rashes, itchiness, and long-term seasonal allergies. Vets recommend one milligram for every pound administered twice a day. 

Hydrocortisone is a cream that is great for raw, itchy, and irritated skin. This cream is calming and soothing for your pet's skin and paw pads. If your dog has a hot spot or was stung by a bee or mosquito, this can help stop the itching and reduce some of the discomforts.  

Glucosamine is often used to help treat and reduce painful and swollen joints associated with arthritis. 

Nasal sprays, like saline solutions, are just a salt water mixture to help keep your dog's nasal passages hydrated and moist. It can reduce congestion if your dog is suffering from a cold and can help prevent a lot of sneezing. 

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Safety Tips for Giving Your Dog Human Medicine:

  1. Make sure your dog is not allergic to any human medications.
  2. Don't give them human medications frequently.
  3. Make sure the dosage is correct.
  4. Speak with your vet before giving your dog human medications.

By a Samoyed lover Kayla Costanzo

Published: 06/01/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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