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The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck responsible for producing essential hormones that help regulate body temperature and metabolism. Millions of Americans live with hypothyroidism, meaning that it's not unusual to find thyroid hormone replacement medication in the medicine cabinets of many households. Overdose of thyroid hormone medication can cause toxicity in your pet. If your pet accidentally swallows your thyroid medication or you accidentally give your pet too much of their own prescription, veterinary care is required.
Ahead, what to do if your pet accidentally swallows your thyroid medication.
Signs of thyroid medication overdose in dogs can appear between one to nine hours after ingestion of the medication. Your dog may experience hyperactivity or an increased heart rate in a mild case. In a more severe case, your dog may experience:
- Excessive panting
- Contraction of the pupils
- Muscle tremors
- Elevated heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty breathing
If your pet accidentally swallows your thyroid medication, gather as much evidence as possible. Knowing what type of medication, how much your pet consumed, and approximately when they ate the medication is essential information for your veterinarian or poison control hotline. Bring along the container or packaging that contained the thyroid hormone pills.
Once you've done this, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline or your veterinarian as soon as possible.
"Many vet offices actually won't have an animal toxicologist in the office, so they may recommend you call an animal poisoning hotline to figure out the best course of action," says Dr. Jacob Hawthorne, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Thank Your Vet Organization. "The hotline will ask about the breed and health of your animal as well as what medicine they consumed. From there, they will provide you with recommendations for the best course of action."
Suppose you are recommended to visit your vet in person. In that case, an exam will show any clinical signs relevant to thyroid medication overdose. The vet will physically examine your dog's heart rate and blood pressure. Blood tests will show thyroid hormone levels and other markers like electrolytes and liver enzymes. Treatment is based on the level of poisoning discovered in the diagnostic process.
Suppose your furry friend does not have any underlying conditions and receives treatment promptly. In that case, there is a good prognosis for recovery. Once the veterinarian sends your dog home, make him a comfortable resting place and continue to monitor him. Contact your veterinary clinic if your dog starts behaving in any way that causes concern.
The best way to prevent your pet from swallowing your thyroid medication is to keep it out of your pet's reach. For instance, "Beware of setting your bags or purses on the ground if you have medication in them; some dogs might get curious and go digging," says Jenna Mahan, a registered veterinary technician at Embrace Pet Insurance. "Ask me how I know: I had a naughty Labrador slide open a drawer and eat 35 chewable vitamin tablets, so now that drawer has a baby lock on it."
Keep your medication separate from your pet's medications. Keep your medications up high, and preferably behind closed medicine cabinets.
We talked to Dr. Michelle Burch, DVM from Paramount Pet Health, about the worst medications your pet can swallow.
Human NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and indomethacin to treat fevers, pain, and inflammation. Dogs accidentally ingesting a human NSAID can experience gastrointestinal irritation, kidney damage, liver damage, and clotting problems.
Acetaminophen/Tylenol/Paracetamol is used in human medicine for pain control and reducing fevers. Dogs who ingest large doses of acetaminophen can experience dry eye, red blood cell damage, liver damage, and possible death. Cats who eat any amount of acetaminophen can experience red blood cell damage, liver damage, and death.
Medications used to help people sleep
Medications used to help people sleep, including Xanax, Ambien, or Valium, can cause pets to become highly lethargic when ingested. Depending on the pet and the amount consumed, pets may experience dangerously slowed breathing rates which may be life-threatening.
Blood pressure medications
Blood pressure medications, including ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, can cause weakness, stumbling, and collapse due to low blood pressure when ingested by pets.
Adderall ingestion and other ADHD medications by pets can have severe effects from the potent stimulant amphetamine. Pets can experience tremors, seizures, increased body temperature, cardiac arrest, and respiratory arrest resulting in death.
If your dog swallows your levothyroxine prescription, our online doctor prescription services make it easy to have your existing thyroid medication refilled or even a new thyroid medication prescribed to you after bloodwork and a consultation.
Follow these steps to get your thyroid medication refilled online:
- Fill out a short online questionnaire that gives your Paloma Health provider insight into your thyroid condition, medical history, and existing prescription.
- Once you have submitted your questionnaire, a provider will review your information, prescribe the appropriate medication refill, or reach out to you if you have additional questions.
- After your provider orders your prescription, you can pick up your thyroid medication at your preferred retail or online pharmacy.
A note from Paloma Health
Paloma Health is not a veterinary clinic, and the content of this page is not veterinary advice. If you think your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, call Pet Poison Helpline or seek veterinary treatment.