Human Topical Creams and Canines

Most pet parents, at one point or another, have suffered while watching their precious fur-baby wear the “cone of shame” – the awful cone that prevents a dog from licking a wound or topical medicine.  I have to admit, as a pet parent myself, I was never very successful living up to my vet’s expectations, which always resulted in some form of scolding.  😊

Recently, a friend of mine was required to apply a very strong topical medication to her hand.  She was very concerned about the potential side effects.  When I read about the medication, located in the middle of a very large volume of text that would scare anyone, there was a brief sentence or two about the dangers to canines if consumed – even if the treated area was only licked. 

As humans, we are used to our vet telling us not to allow our dog to lick the ointment they prescribe, but as humans, we do not always think about the impact human topical medicines  or over-the-counter lotions and creams may have on our dogs.  As it relates to human medications, human doctors do not always tell us the impact topical medications may have on our dog.  Human doctors are primarily concerned with humans.  Had my friend not been so concerned about the side effects, she probably would not have read the medication information brochure.  She would have just applied the topical as directed. 

Some dogs are lickers.  They like to lick us all the time – for any reason.  I have one of those myself.  Constant licking bothers many pet parents.  Because I work with dogs nearly every day of the week, it really does not bother me. 😊  I actually do not realize it happens many times.  My friend’s recent experience really had an impact on me.  I live with three large dogs in my house that even sleep with me.  That means, at any given time while at home, they are never very far away from me.  My friend had to really think of ways to be perfectly disciplined in her effort to prevent her dog from a lightening fast lick.  She quickly became very aware of her dog’s location over the two weeks she had to be so careful.  It would have been much easier if she was allowed to cover her wound, but she was not.  She could only wear gloves or bandages for short periods or while she slept.  I will say, she did a great job!  Due to her two-week journey, I realized how difficult that experience would have been for me.  I love my dogs around me.  They crawl all over me much of the time.  I am just used to it.  Sadly, if they are not crawling all over me, I miss it!  Most of the time, my focus is solely on the joy of their presence vs. on their specific actions or behavior.  It would be very hard to suddenly be required to shift my focus and be perfect doing so.

Because of my friend’s experience, I learned how important it is to read all of the information related to any human topical medication before use so that fur-babies can be protected.  It is likely that if there is significant risk to humans, there could be significant risk to our fur-babies.  Most importantly, there could be hidden risk to our fur-babies.  There are substances that pose little risk to humans but can be very dangerous to fur-babies, if ingested.  A good example – chocolate.  As humans, we may not think about these hazards unless we happen to be educated on the particular hazard.  Going forward, I want to achieve a higher level of awareness so I can protect my precious fur-babies.   In the event I am prescribed topical creams in the future, I will definitely make a point to ask the doctor or pharmacist about any potential hazards to canines, especially if none are initially communicated.  I hope you will join me in this effort!

Hugs to your fur-babies!


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