giving a dog a pill

Have you ever wondered if human meds for dogs are safe?

In most cases, you should be only giving your dog medications that are specifically for dogs.

However, there are some human meds for dogs that are completely safe, though they must be given under veterinary supervision.

Danger: There's plenty of unsafe medicine for dogs that owners often consider giving their pets.

And according to a study, one of the main causes of poisoning in dogs is exposure to drugs intended for human use.

Poisoning may result from misuse by pet owners, off-label use of medicines, or more frequently, accidental ingestion of drugs that are improperly stored.

These meds for dogs can be toxic due to physical and chemical differences between canines and humans.

A dog's body cannot break down certain chemicals found in human medicine, like acetaminophen.

As a result, the chemicals attach to the dog's liver and slowly destroy it.

Other than the fact that dogs are dogs and not humans, it's also the size of your pet that matters when considering human meds for dogs.

Even when a medication is safe for animal use, the dosage may not be safe.

You should never try to figure out the dosage for your pet simply based on the label of a human medication.

So, we've curated this article to list human medicines for dogs that can be given to them in the right dosage.

With consultation from your vet, you will be able to provide safe human meds for dogs.

ALSO READ: How to Safely Buy Cheap Pet Meds Online (And Save Money)

Top 15 Safe Human Meds for Dogs

It’s important to note that many factors can render safe human medications to be unsafe for dogs.

These factors include your dog's overall health, other medications being taken, breed, size, and age.

That said, you should never give anything to your pet that's not for them without consulting a vet first.

You will also notice that as per dosage warnings among the safe human meds for dogs below, we have NOT included any dosing information—this is done intentionally.

It's unlikely these medications will have a dosage mentioned for animal use on their back label, and you should never rely on the internet to give you veterinary advice.

Call your vet and get your dog's professional advice before using any human medications.

Imodium (Loperamide) - meds for dogs

1. Imodium (Loperamide)

Imodium is a tricky medication. Some dogs with diarrhea can take loperamide, and it's safe for them.

However, it can cause side effects in other dogs as shown in studies, so it should never be given without veterinary supervision.

For example, a study found that the Collie breed will get poisoning from loperamide.

Also, if Imodium is given to a dog that carries the MDR1 gene mutation, it can cause constipation, severe sedation, bloat, and pancreatitis.

MDR1 gene mutations refer to a dog with diarrhea due to an infection or ingestion of a toxin or a dog with certain health conditions.

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, there are a number of other dog diarrhea meds and treatments that your vet can prescribe; it's best to utilize one of these options instead.

Pepto-Bismol - medicine for dogs

2. Pepto-Bismol

Pepto-Bismol falls into much the same category as Imodium mentioned above.

It's one of the safer human meds for dogs, but only for certain dogs with specific conditions and only under veterinary supervision.

If your dog has diarrhea or an upset stomach, it’s best to use a dog diarrhea medication or stomach upset aid.

But if you are in a pinch, make sure to call your vet before giving your dog Pepto-Bismol.

Your vet will help you to determine whether it’s safe for your individual dog and, if so, what the safe dosage is.

If you do get the go-ahead to give your dog Pepto-Bismol, be aware that should your dog need an X-ray for any reason before the medication has passed, it may be mistaken for a metallic body in its gastrointestinal system.

So, make sure you notify your vet.

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) - medication for dogs

3. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Benadryl is used in veterinary practices as a treatment for allergies, motion sickness, and travel anxiety.

It's also a popular human medicine for dogs, and it's often used in veterinary practice.

But, there were also cases of diphenhydramine poisoning in dogs.

If your pet is experiencing any of the above-mentioned illnesses, call your vet to confirm the Benadryl dosage specific to your dog.

Additionally, ask if any of your dog’s current health conditions will be negatively impacted by the administration of Benadryl.

Side effects that you should look out for when giving Benadryl include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sedation
  • Salivation
  • Dry mouth
  • Urinary retention
  • Increased respiration
  • Increased or decreased appetite.

In severe cases, such as a Benadryl overdose, look out for the following conditions in your dogs:

  • seizures
  • agitation
  • constipation
  • rapid heartbeat
  • develops dilated pupils

Important: Get to the emergency vet immediately.

Buffered Aspirin - safe human meds for dogs

4. Buffered Aspirin

Some veterinarians recommend Buffered Aspirin for dogs with pain due to arthritis, and studies found it to be better tolerated by dogs.

However, it is not generally the treatment of choice and will only be used on rare occasions.

While technically, it can be one of the safe human meds for dogs, there are many other (and better) dog-specific NSAIDs available for pain.

Or even less potent pain relievers that are safer for dogs to take that you can procure from your vet.

If your vet does recommend Buffered Aspirin for your pet, make sure that there are no added ingredients like acetaminophen, and follow your veterinarian’s dosing instructions to a tee.

Remember: Buffered Aspirin administered under vet supervision may still cause side effects like kidney damage or internal bleeding.

Tagamet (Cimetidine) - human medicine for dogs

5. Tagamet (Cimetidine)

Cimetidine is sometimes prescribed as an extra-label drug in veterinary medicine to treat the following:

  • Reflux
  • Gastritis
  • Esophagitis
  • Mast cell tumors in dogs

Fortunately, it's found to be safe and effective.

Although cimetidine is safe to use in most dogs, consult your vet before use.

That's because it can interact with a variety of other medicines and cause problems for senior dogs and pets with blood disorders.

Note: Responsible use of Tagamet generally doesn't lead to side effects under vet supervision.

However, an overdose of cimetidine can result in tachycardia and respiratory failure in dogs.

Prilosec (Omeprazole) - human meds for dogs

6. Prilosec (Omeprazole)

Omeprazole can be safely used in dogs with ulcers or excess stomach acid, but only if your vet approves with proper dosing instructions.

Interestingly, some studies found it to be more effective than the above-mentioned cimetidine.

Note: Dosing of omeprazole for dogs is vital.

That's because omeprazole treatments are mainly for human use and have never been officially approved for animal use.

While it's generally safe, without a vet check-up and consultation, administering Prilosec to dogs can cause complications by masking other health conditions in pets.

Omeprazole can also cause problems when combined with a number of other medications.

Hydrocortisone - meds for dogs

7. Hydrocortisone

Hydrocortisone creams can be used topically on your dog in small amounts for itchy skin.

But never in areas where your dog can lick the cream away because it's toxic.

Tip: Use an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking until the area has healed.

In addition, there should be a limit to using hydrocortisone creams. You should keep an eye out for side effects like behavior changes, weakness, and nausea.

However, many companies are beginning to use this substance for pet products today.

You'll find over-the-counter itch creams and skin infection treatments to contain this chemical.

It’s always best to use hydrocortisone products that have been developed for dogs rather than using human alternatives that may include toxic additives.

Lomotil (Atropine Diphenoxylate) - medicine for dogs

8. Lomotil (Atropine / Diphenoxylate)

Atropine/Diphenoxylate is used by humans to manage diarrhea, and it's also used to treat diarrhea and colitis in dogs and cats.

Lomotil for dogs works by slowing the digestive tract, improving the ability to absorb liquids, and reducing intestinal secretions.

In other uses, Lomotil has also been shown to reduce coughing.

Important: Lomotil dosing and length of treatment should be vet-approved.

Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate) - medication for dogs

9. Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate)

Dramamine is used by some veterinarians for the treatment of travel sickness and travel-related anxiety in dogs.

Dogs can experience side effects as a result of Dramamine, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty urinating

While it's one of the safe human meds for dogs, it’s exceptionally important to consult a veterinarian for the correct dosage.

That's because overdosing is quite easy and very common in pets.

Signs that indicate an overdose include respiratory difficulty, seizures, lethargy, and coma.

Before you even try this drug, remember that there are other alternatives to Dramamine you can use that have fewer to no side effects including herbal treatments and behavioral conditioning, as well as specific dog anxiety meds and tools like anxiety vests.

Gas-X (Simethicone) - safe human meds for dogs

10. Gas-X (Simethicone)

Simethicone is used in humans and in dogs to treat gas.

However, it should not be used over long periods and should never be used without first consulting your veterinarian.

It’s not just important to get dosing information from your vet, but it’s even more important to find out the cause of your dog’s gas.

The following questions can help you assess your pup's condition:

  • Is their diet not agreeing with them?
  • Are they suffering from an infection?
  • Have they eaten something they shouldn’t have?

The root of your dog’s gas must be identified in order to be properly treated.

If your veterinarian approves the short-term use of simethicone for your dog, make sure that you do not vary from their treatment plan.

Long-term use of simethicone can alter natural pH levels in your dog’s gastrointestinal system and lead to bacterial infection.

Pepcid-AC (Famotidine) - human medicine for dogs

11. Pepcid-AC (Famotidine)

Pepcid-AC or Famotidine is used by veterinarians for the treatment of gastric and intestinal ulcers in dogs.

It's proven to be safe and it works by suppressing the secretion of stomach acid so that the ulceration can heal.

Famotidine has the following benefits in dogs:

  • Reflux treatment
  • Suppress histamine secretion
  • Reduction in stomach inflammation

It's one of the safer human meds for dogs out there, but studies show that continuous use makes it less effective with time.

With this in mind, your vet must advise proper dosage depending on what your dog is being treated for.

Additionally, Famotidine is known to interact with a variety of other medications and should not be given without being cleared by your vet.

Note: Famotidine overdose is not a common occurrence, but if your dog exhibits rapid heart rate, vomiting, pale gums, restlessness, or collapses, it may have overdosed.

Zyrtec (Cetirizine) - human meds for dogs

12. Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

Zyrtec is a very popular brand used to treat allergy symptoms in humans.

But, it’s also been used in dogs for the same purpose, particularly in cases of chronic dermatitis.

Not just that, it can also be used to treat hot spot itching.

Note: Many times, Zyrtec is used as an alternative to Benadryl in dogs that don’t tolerate Benadryl well.

Unlike many other human medications for dogs listed here, Zyrtec actually has been tested and has been shown to be quite safe for use in dogs.

That said, it should never be given to dogs with compromised kidney function and should be used with care in senior dogs after you consult with a vet.

Claritin (Loratadine) - meds for dogs

13. Claritin (Loratadine)

Claritin is another popular human allergy medication with the following benefits for dogs:

  • Treat dogs with allergy symptoms
  • Reduce side effects from vaccines
  • Relieve inflammation related to mast cell tumors

Moreover, both in vivo and in vitro studies found it to be safe and sometimes effective for different conditions.

Before giving Claritin to your dog, talk to your vet about dosing information.

Even when giving Claritin under the supervision of a vet, watch for any side effects including vomiting, diarrhea, urinary retention, and increased thirst.

Note: You should never give Claritin to your dog if they’re pregnant or if they are suffering from liver disease.

Additionally, Claritin-D specifically should never be given to dogs.

The D or decongestant in Claritin-D (pseudoephedrine) can be lethal to your dog even in small doses.

Prednisone - medicine for dogs

14. Prednisone

Prednisone's use in dogs includes treating inflammation from the following conditions:

Fortunately, a study proves this to be partially effective.

Important: Check with your vet before giving any Prednisone treatment to prevent the side effects common to corticosteroids.

Always give Prednisone exactly as directed by your vet and watch for troublesome side effects.

Side effects seen with Prednisone treatment include:

Considered a less prescribed medication for dogs, Prednisone can pose difficulties when given to dogs with the following conditions:

Zantac (Ranitidine) - medication for dogs

15. Zantac (Ranitidine)

Like a few of the medications on this safe human med for dogs list, ranitidine is another histamine blocker.

Sometimes used in dogs to reduce stomach acid, this med allows ulcers to heal and reduce stomach acid in dogs with reflux.

Even though it's safe, it's not as effective for these conditions.

Although it's not for canine use, ranitidine can be beneficial under veterinary supervision in dogs, cats, and horses.

Important: Don't give ranitidine to dogs with kidney or liver disease.

It should not go with food because it will reduce its effectiveness.

You should also be wary of combining ranitidine with any other medications as it can cause problems.

Side effects from ranitidine are rare.

But if you notice diarrhea, consult your veterinarian as this can be a side effect of ranitidine use.

Furthermore, stop ranitidine treatment if diarrhea is accompanied by or if you notice the following symptoms:

Important: Seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

Can Dogs Take Human Medicine: Is It Really Safe?

Unfortunately, not all human meds for dogs are safe.

Pet owners see these over-the-counter treatments are fast solutions, but they could do more harm than good.

The wrong dosage or medication for dogs can become fatal to your pooch or pets.

That's why you must consult with your vet before trying any meds for dogs.

Your vet can determine the condition and prescribe safe human meds for dogs in the right dosage.

That way, you will treat your pooch without worrying about other consequences.

FAQs on Safe Human Meds for Dogs

Can you give a dog Tylenol?

Never ever give your dog something like Tylenol or other over-the-counter human pain meds without consulting your vet. Tylenol can be toxic or fatal to dogs in higher doses.

Overdose can lead to internal bleeding, kidney and liver failure.

Can I give my dog ibuprofen?

No. It is extremely dangerous to dogs. DO NOT give your dog or cats ibuprofen for any reason whatsoever.

Safe Human Meds for Dogs: Before You Go…

Dogs are like family.

The moment they feel unwell, they can make you worried and uneasy.

Pet owners sometimes resort to human medicine for dogs since it's the fastest solution they can get themselves.

However, not all human meds for dogs are safe.

As much as you want to alleviate any pain or symptom in your dogs, you need to be careful about what you think is a suitable medication for dogs.

Meds for dogs are quite specific to the condition and its causes.

Some meds for dogs will either treat a symptom or make the situation worse.

When your dog starts to experience pain or certain conditions, take them to the vet immediately.


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The 15 Safe Human Meds for Dogs

In the last 8 years, Dr. Shores has worked as a clinical veterinarian for dogs, cats, small mammals and non-human primates as well as a writer on the subject of pet health. Her passion is breaking down the intricacies of proper dog health care and dog nutrition.