Shelter Health

Topical Creams and Pets: A Dangerous Combination

If dogs can reach it, they'll most likely eat it. This is a fact all veterinarians know well, particularly those who field calls at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Whenever a new product comes on the market, it's our job to learn all we can about it. Some time ago we started getting more and more calls about pets ingesting compounded creams for muscle pain relief, and we found an assortment of ingredients that have proven to be problematic in more than one species.  

These creams are on our watch list at APCC, and they have a plethora of ingredients to be on the lookout for, including:

  • Baclofen
  • Cyclobenzaprine
  • Lidocaine
  • Amitriptyline
  • Flurbiprofen
  • Piroxicam
  • Diclofenac
  • Gabapentin
  • Ketamine
  • Ketoprofen
  • Bupivicaine
  • Benzocaine
  • Tramadol
  • Pentoxyfylline

… and the list goes on. Often there are three or more of these ingredients present in any particular cream.

Clinical signs that can be seen depend on the cream's ingredients. We have seen cardiovascular, neurologic, gastrointestinal, acute renal injury, and death associated with animal exposures to these products.

Unfortunately some small exposures – such as a pet licking the owner's skin after recent application of the product – have resulted in severe clinical signs. If an owner calls about one of these creams, make sure your staff knows they can mean serious problems, and tell the owner to bring the packaging in along with the pet so a full ingredient list can be obtained.  

The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center has a host of publications to help you in treating animals, as well as a monthly newsletter with the latest research, helpful hints, and training opportunities.

You Might Also Like

Shelter Health Poison Control Tips