For the study, which was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, looked at more than 1,400 calls for exposures to veterinary drugs by people aged 19 and younger from 1999 to 2013.
They found that babies can pick up pills spit out by pets or eat food containing medications left over in pet food bowls. Also, kids who pet an animal being treated with a topical lotion or cream can get it on their hands and put it in their mouths.
“We realize that pets are common and an important part of families, especially those with young children,” said Kristi Roberts, co-author of the study. “However, pets often require medications to keep them healthy, and these medications could be dangerous to a child if the child is exposed.”
The pet medications linked to reports of poisoning in children included veterinary products that have no human equivalent (17%), antimicrobials to kill germs (15%), antiparasitics to kill parasites (15%) and analgesics to relieve pain (11%).
Nearly all the exposures occurred at home (96%) and were not expected to have long-term adverse effects, but some pet medications could be highly dangerous even at low doses.
“Some pets are on chemotherapy and other drugs that can be toxic to a child,” said Dr. Barbara Pena, research director in the emergency department at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida. “If your child does take an animal’s medication, the first step is to call your local poison control center.”
Other steps pet owners can take to prevent accidental poisonings by children include:
- Limiting children’s access to the pet when medications are being administered;
- Making sure all topical treatments are dry before allowing a child to touch the pet;
- Storing all human medications separately from veterinary ones, and
- Keeping all medication in child-resistant packaging and out of reach of kids at all times.
Source: CBS News