JoAnna Lou
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Your Medicine Cabinet Could Be Deadly
A doctor learns the hard way not to mix human and canine drugs
Dexter spent seven days at the veterinarian's office after being given ibuprofen.


A few weeks ago Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein wrote in the New York Times about almost killing her dog Dexter. Fortunately the German Shepherd is on the path to recovery now, but not before going through a harrowing ordeal. And one that could have been easily prevented.

In December, after a romp in Central Park, Dexter came home with a limp in his arthritic leg. In an effort to save money and a trip to the veterinarian, Dr. Epstein gave Dexter a dose of prescription ibuprofen left over from her son’s root canal.

After a day and a half of the medication, Dexter stopped eating and couldn’t control his bladder. Dr. Epstein soon found out that ibuprofen can be lethal to dogs (and many other animals, like cats). Poor Dexter ended up in at the veterinarian’s office for seven days. Over a month later, he’s still on antibiotics and needs to be walked every three hours.

It’s important to know that people medicine should not be given to your pet unless directed by a veterinarian. Even if you are a people doctor! Dr. Epstein learned the hard way that although some human medicines are prescribed to dogs, you can’t assume that for all drugs.

I know many people will jump to criticize Dr. Epstein, but despite what an embarrassing and dangerous mistake it was (even her 14-year old son made fun of her), I’m glad that she decided to share her story. Hopefully the millions of readers who read the New York Times will learn from her potentially deadly situation.


JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein/The New York Times.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Ann | February 3 2011 |

Yes, thank you Dr. Epstein for sharing your story. It only goes to show that even highly trained human medical personnel may not know what risks they are taking when dispensing medication meant for humans to their pets. I worked as a veterinary surgical technician for nearly 3 years as I advanced through my required undergraduate coursework in preparation for veterinary college and I too was surprised to learn that these drugs (I am also referring to Tylenol) can be fatal to our dogs. Simply put, they just can't metabolize these drugs.

Submitted by Deb | February 7 2011 |

Thank you Dr. Epstein for putting others before yourself and sharing your story. If it helps save just one dog it's well worth it.

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