Ask the Vet

Human Meds Often Toxic for Dogs, Cats

It's not safe to give any human medicines to dogs unless instructed by a veterinarian. (Progressive Farmer image by Getty Images)

Q: I have an older Border Collie. We had an early cold snap, and she seems very stiff, especially in the mornings. Can I give her aspirin or Advil to help with this?

A: Please do not give any human medicines to dogs unless your veterinarian specifically instructs you to do so.

Your veterinarian can prescribe something specifically for your dog's condition that will help without endangering its life. Aspirin can be dangerous, including a risk of bleeding. Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen) and other human anti-inflammatory drugs are toxic to dogs and cats. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is deadly in cats.

There are a number of options to help our senior pets live a comfortable, mostly pain-free life. In some cases, even certain supplements have been shown to be effective. But, I'd caution you against making a diagnosis yourself in this case. There are a lot of things people attribute to old age that are more serious than they appear but still treatable.