Everyday drugs used in millions of homes across the UK could be a death sentence to pets if swallowed, PDSA warned today.\r\n\r\nThe vet charity issued the warning after continuing to see poisoning cases involving pets that have ingested common household drugs such as ibuprofen and paracetamol.\r\n\r\nIt comes as figures from the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) show that \u2018non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)\u2019 \u2013 those common in over-the-counter painkillers and cold and flu products - are among the top five enquiries they receive.\r\n\r\nVPIS also reported that these drugs accounted for several pet deaths last year - with three fatal cases involving dogs, two of which were related to naproxen and one involving exposure to ibuprofen. One cat also had to be euthanised after eating paracetamol. But PDSA believes that many cases are going unreported.\r\n\r\nPDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said it was vital for pet owners to realise the dangers common household drugs can pose to their animals.\r\n\r\nShe said: \u201cDrugs like ibuprofen and paracetamol are a staple of the household medicine cabinet, but you should store them in the same way you would if you had young children in the family, as they can be just as dangerous to our pets.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cWith funding assistance from players of People\u2019s Postcode Lottery we\u2019re warning pet owners about the dangers and what they can do to keep their pets safe.\u201d\r\n\r\nIt can be surprisingly easy for a pet to get their paws on these drugs and if they do the consequences can be devastating. There are also instances where pet owners attempt to medicate their pets using human drugs, but this is extremely dangerous \u2013 paracetamol, for example, is particularly toxic to cats \u2013 and any medications used on pets should always be prescribed by a vet.\r\n\r\nAccording to the latest data from VPIS \u2013 a 24 hour telephone emergency service used by vets for animal poisoning cases \u2013 enquiries about NSAIDs were the most common across all pet species, with 861 total enquiries over 12 months. Paracetamol was the fourth most common, accounting for 401 enquiries.\r\n\r\nOlivia added: \u201cThese drugs are among the most common in the UK and can be bought over-the-counter for pain management and in cold and flu products.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cPeople often carry blister packs in pockets or bags, which can be very tempting for a pet to explore or it\u2019s not uncommon to hear of people giving their pet some paracetamol or other common human painkillers when their pet seems unwell. It\u2019s really important to remember to store medicines away in a locked cabinet or box and never to attempt medication using drugs intended for people, unless advised by your vet.\u201d\r\n\r\nOlivia said it was vital for owners to seek emergency veterinary treatment straight away if they suspect their pet has come into contact with anything toxic.\r\n\r\nShe said: \u201cIt\u2019s important to contact your vet for advice urgently. In an emergency situation it\u2019s useful to let the vet know as much as possible about the offending substance, so they can give the appropriate treatment. So always keep the packaging and take it with you if you need to go to the surgery.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nCase studies\r\n\r\nDuke\r\n\r\nJack Russell crossbreed puppy Duke was saved by PDSA vets after he got his paws on a cold and flu sachet containing paracetamol.\r\n\r\nNathan Chapman (27) and his partner Nikki Mortimore (43) from Hartcliffe, Bristol, awoke in the morning to find a chewed up packet of the human medication in their 12-week-old pup\u2019s bed.\r\n\r\n\u201cI went to let him outside and noticed the packet amongst his bedding, I immediately panicked and realised something wasn\u2019t right,\u201d said Nathan.\r\n\r\n\u201cNikki suggested calling PDSA and the vets told us to bring him straight in. Duke seemed ok but it was difficult to tell how much he had eaten so we were really worried.\u201d\r\n\r\nVets at Bristol PDSA Pet Hospital assessed Duke and immediately began treatment. However, an antidote used to counteract the effect of paracetamol was not in stock at the hospital, so a desperate rush to locate some ensued.\r\n\r\nPenny Morgan, PDSA vet, said: \u201cThe sachet contained 1,000mg of paracetamol which for a large adult dog may not cause too many problems, but for a young puppy like Duke could be fatal.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe treated him for a \u2018worst case scenario\u2019 but didn\u2019t have any N-acetylcysteine \u2013 a drug which acts as an antidote to paracetamol-induced toxicity. We contacted local vet practices and one of our vet nurses travelled across the city in order to get hold of the drug we needed to save Duke.\u201d\r\n\r\nDuke was given the medication and was monitored closely before being deemed well enough to return home.\r\n\r\nNathan said the couple were extremely grateful to PDSA for saving Duke.\r\n\r\nHe said: \u201cI\u2019m so happy that he made such a good recovery without any lasting effects. He\u2019s such a lively puppy and it\u2019s definitely made us more vigilant when it comes to storing medicines in a place where he can\u2019t get his paws on them!\r\n\r\n\u201cPDSA were fantastic and they really went out of their way to help Duke.\u201d\r\n\r\nMilly\r\n\r\nGerman Shepherd, Milly, was rushed to Oldbury PDSA Pet Hospital in the West Midlands after she ate some ibuprofen tablets that had fallen out of her owner\u2019s pocket.\r\n\r\nThanks to her owners\u2019 quick-thinking actions she was admitted to the hospital within an hour of ingesting the tablets, which meant emergency treatment could begin before her body had begun digesting them.\r\n\r\nOwner Sharon, said her husband Mark had been suffering with a headache and had placed a pack of tablets in his pocket.\r\n\r\nShe said: \u201cHe had been sitting in the garden to get some fresh air and they must have fallen out.\r\n\r\n"When he came back inside and checked his pocket we quickly realised what had happened.\u201d\r\n\r\nSharon said they rushed out to the garden and found the now empty packet, along with some loose tablets, on the ground. It was unclear how many tablets Milly had eaten but they knew she required urgent veterinary treatment.\r\n\r\nPDSA vets gave Milly medication to induce vomiting and to absorb any remaining toxins. Milly was kept in overnight on a drip before being allowed home the following day.\r\n\r\nSenior vet Ian Fleming, from Oldbury PDSA, said: \u201cMilly is definitely one of the lucky ones as it could have been so much worse.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cThankfully she was brought in very quickly after exposure which meant the ibuprofen hadn\u2019t had chance to take effect. However, we have seen a number of cases over the years where pets haven\u2019t been so fortunate. If Milly hadn\u2019t received such prompt medical treatment she could have been left with severe kidney damage or even kidney failure.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cThese drugs are so common and it\u2019s so easy to forget you have them on your person, so it\u2019s really important to raise awareness of how dangerous they can be.\u201d\r\n\r\nSharon said the family were always careful to store drugs safely but they were now even more aware of the dangers.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHousehold pain killers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol can cause severe organ damage in pets, symptoms of exposure include:\r\n\r\n \tVomiting\r\n \tDiarrhoea\r\n \tReduced appetite\r\n \tLethargy\r\n \tAbdominal pain\r\n \tBlack faeces\r\n \tBreathing faster or slower than usual\r\n \tBlue, brown or yellow tinged gums\r\n \tWeakness\/wobbliness\r\n \tSwelling around the face or paws\r\n \tExcessive dribbling\r\n \tDrinking and urinating more than usual\r\n \tSeizures\r\n\r\nFor more information visit www.pdsa.org.uk\/poisons.