Small animals can be exposed to an ever-increasing number of potentially toxic drugs, many of which are over-the-counter (OTC). Although most of the drugs are fairly safe, they can cause toxicities, especially in high quantities. Veterinarians should become familiar with common toxins and have identified resources, such as poison centers, Internet resources, and toxicologists at veterinary schools. Many times pet owners aren't even aware of the danger. For example, bismuth subsalicylate, a popular OTC medicine known as Pepto-Bismol, contains 8.7 mg of aspirin per milliliter. Owners who give the medication to their pets for diarrhea may unintentionally expose them to high levels of aspirin. Vitamins, especially fat-soluable vitamins, are also possible toxins.

COMMENTARY: This is an excellent review of the common OTC drugs to which companion animals may be exposed.There are lists of toxins likely to be found in many homes, including antiinflammatory drugs and antihistamines. This is a good article for clinicians to read and keep for future reference.

"Over-the-counter" drug toxicities in companion animals. Fitzgerald KT, Bronstein AC, Flood AA. Clin Tech Small Anim Pract 21:215-226, 2006.