Friday, 09 November 2018 13:55

Porky & Buddy Column: Can a Lowly Cough Drop Be Dangerous?

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Dear Porky & Buddy: I recently went to visit my mother who was sick with a seasonal cold. During a coughing fit, she reached for her cough drops and accidentally spilled the package.

Her Bichon Frise, Lucy, a loyal companion and excellent sick nurse to my mom, jumped at the chance for some scattered treats but I was able to snatch them up before she could. As far as I know, cough drops are medicine and human medicines can be dangerous to pets. Is this true?

Signed, Valerie


Dear Valerie,

Thank you for visiting with your mother while she was ill. We’re sure it was a great comfort to her. Besides being a good daughter, you were also right in taking immediate action to collect the cough drops before Lucy scarfed them up.

The thing about cough drops is that they look like hard candy, they are somewhat sweet, and they have other flavorings, such as honey or lemon that dogs in particular might find tasty. But, you are right, they really are medicines. So start by looking at the label of the brand you use.

We consulted with our friends at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center and they said to watch out for these two ingredients:

First there is xylitol, a common sweetener in all kinds of consumer products that can cause hypoglycemia and possible liver injury. It depends on the amount in the drops and how many your dog has ingested but you don’t want to take that risk.

Second there is Benzocaine, that stuff that makes your throat go pleasantly numb. It usually only causes an upset stomach. It can be metabolized, however, into compounds which can cause a form of anemia with symptoms such as depression, weakness, rapid breathing, jaundice, vomiting, or swelling of the face or jaw. Plus, because it numbs the mouth and throat, it can pose a risk for aspiration (being drawn into the lungs). You don’t want to take that risk.

Additionally, they are an obvious choking hazard. So even if what you use does not contain either xylitol or Benzocaine, be careful where you store them, i.e. not in an open bag on the floor by your bed, as just one example.

If you believe that your pet has ingested cough drops, especially if you are not certain about what they contain, contact your veterinarian or the APCC immediately for advice.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Located at 29 West Seneca Street, Oswego, New York Phone: (315) 207-1070 Email: [email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org Instagram: @oswego_humane

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