Shelter Health

Nothing to Sneeze At: Cold & Flu Medications

School is back in session, and the germs exchanged in crowded classrooms can make their way back to the home. It’s the time of year when sales of cold and flu medications soar – and those medications can find their way to family pets.

There are lots of ingredients to keep track of, so review the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s library of cold and flu medication toxicities and treatments!

Cough Drops

Pets will often suck down the cough drops their owners have handy. For the most part, cough drops aren’t as serious as some other flu and cold medications, but there are a few things to watch out for.


While cold and flu medications commonly contain multiple ingredients, pseudoephedrine is one that often causes serious problems.


Dextromethorphan is a common ingredient in over-the-counter cold, congestion, and flu medications, and pets who ingest it may need veterinary care.


GI upset, GI ulceration, and acute renal injury are classic signs of acute NSAID toxicity – but did you know all NSAIDs are not created equal?


The gastrointestinal ulceration and acute renal failure effects of ibuprofen are well known, but high doses of ibuprofen can also cause CNS signs as well.


There are three main antibiotics or classes of antibiotics that can cause seizures – check them out, because in seizure cases antibiotics can often be overlooked.

Eye Drops

Colds and flu can mean red eyes, and people often keep eye drops in easily accessible places. What would you do with a patient who had ingested eye drops? Test your treatment strategy with this APCC case study.

More Lifesaving Resources

How to Make a Pet First Aid Kit
Share this simple DIY first-aid kit with your clients and adopters.

Toxin Exposure Triage Sheet
This triage sheet can provide crucial information needed to help animals who ingest toxins.

You Might Also Like

Shelter Health Poison Control Article