A new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center (COPC), US, has revealed that, much due to the parents’ lack of awareness, pet medication is making children and adolescents sick.
Researchers found that on average the COPC receives on average of two calls per week (95 calls per year) over accidental poisoning of children and adolescents under 19 by pet medication. The study was published on February 6, 2017 in the online journal, Pediatrics.
The study looked at the number of calls made during 1999 and 2013 to the COPC at Nationwide Children’s Hospital related to exposure to pet medicine.
Almost 90 percent of the calls were regarding swallowing of pet medicine by children aged 5 or younger majority of whom (61%) had found it on the counter or in a bag. In almost a quarter of the cases, children were accidentally or intentionally exposed to the medicine when parents were trying to give the medication to their pets.
In most of these cases, (96%) children were exposed to the pet medicine domestically, and almost 90 percent of the times the exposure was to dog medicine. Luckily in a high majority of the cases, (97%), the medication did not pose a major threat to the children.
The size of dose these children were exposed to was also small but in some cases, exposure to animal or human drugs can cause serious damage, especially to children under 2 years.
Unfortunately, teens were also exposed to pet medication in a lot of cases. More than half of the cases of teen exposure were unintentional, when they mistook pet medication for their own.
The study’s lead author and project coordinator at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Kristi Roberts, believes that storing pet medicine separately is the key to preventing accidental exposures. She said, “When you have kids and pets in the home, sometimes things get a little busy. Thinking about how your pet’s medicines could be a risk for your family might not even cross your mind.
She further added, “The good news is that by taking a few simple steps like storing medicine for pets and humans in different places that are out of children’s reach and only giving medicines to the pet when children are not around, can keep everyone safe.”
The researchers advised parents, family members, and caretakers to keep the following recommendations in mind to safeguard children and pets.
Keep all pet medicine in child-proof containers, clearly labeling the containers with warning labels to avoid any possible confusion or mix up. Keep all pet medicine far away from the reach and sight of children preferably in a locked cabinet.
Until the next dose is required, keep all medicine stored away safely. Keep pet medicine away from drugs meant for humans
In the case of skin ointments or cream, when its applied, make sure that fur gets dry before letting the pets play in the house and make sure the kids are playing in the other room to ensure they do not to come into contact with the fur.
Keep the children in the other room, when administering medicine to your pets. Mix it with food to ensure they eat it before letting your kids play with them. Remember the national Poison Help Line number, 1-800-222-1222 in case of emergencies
More than 71 million homes in the United States own at least one pet and almost half of all the US homes have at least one child aged less than 20 years.
Pets and human beings, more often than not, require medication and the formulae are almost similar in nature. That is why it is easy to make the mistake of considering these medication as harmless but that is not the case.
Though same in chemistry, the quantity and timings of each medication vary and they are not cross-tested, which makes it administering them very complicated.
Vets, public health officials and pharmacists should play their role to better educate child specialists and parents about the risks of pet drugs exposure.
Doing so can prevent any possible harm to kids and teens.