When humans have bouts of cough, cold, sore throat, and inflammation, we quickly take the cough drops that suit us best. It gives us relief and makes us feel way too better. When the same thing happens with your canine, will it be alright to give them cough drops as well?
Or, let us analyze it the other way. What if your dog got hold of the menthol cough drop you had the other night and gulped down a few?
We are here to discuss the boons and banes of cough drops on dogs. What happens if your dog had it by mistake? Will he be fine, or will the medicine cause harm? Read on to know more.
What Are Cough Drops?
Cough drops, known as throat lozenges, are medications similar to candies. They help to relieve coughs and sore throats. You would get them in several flavors, suited for different age groups – kids and adults. You would have to take it orally. When you suck, the cough drops gradually dissolve inside your mouth, soothing your inflamed throat.
Are Cough Drops Bad For Dogs?
Yes, most cough drops are considered bad and harmful for dogs. The reason is that most cough drops contain certain ingredients that may be hazardous for your canine friend.
Let us look at some of the ingredients in cough drops that could hurt your dog’s digestive system and cause other problems.
Xylitol isn’t a common ingredient in cough drops. But, if you have cough drops at home containing xylitol, you must be extra cautious in keeping them out of your dog’s reach. Even a small amount of xylitol could cause serious harm to your dog.
One of the prominent signs of xylitol ingestion in dogs is hypoglycemia. In such cases, your dog’s blood sugar dips drastically. The associated symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include:
- Uncoordinated movements
Severe effects from xylitol poisoning may cause liver damage in dogs, leading to extreme death.
Benzocaine is quite a common ingredient in cough drops. It helps to relieve irritation, inflammation, and pain in the throat and mouth. It, too, is harmful to your dog. It leads to gastrointestinal disorders as an immediate side effect.
When consumed in increased amounts, it could result in a life-threatening condition, methemoglobinemia, where there is a drastic decrease in the oxygen level in the blood.
Benzocaine is considered a local anesthetic. So when your dog swallows or eats some amount of the medicine containing benzocaine, he may experience numbness in his throat or mouth. You could notice swelling around his jaws and face as well.
Menthol is among the commonest ingredients in cough drops, syrups, and gums. But menthol doesn’t go down well with dogs. It irritates the tissues of the digestive tract and mouth.
The most common symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. However, increased ingestion could cause menthol poisoning in dogs. It may lead to lethargy, abdominal pain, uncoordinated movements, and stomach trouble. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, find him sleeping excessively, or having difficulties walking, take him to the vet immediately.
Moreover, menthol has that quick cooling effect that affects puppies more than adult dogs. It reduces oxygen levels in their blood, triggering breathing problems.
4. Eucalyptus Oil
If your dog ingests a small amount of eucalyptus oil, it could lead to gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and vomiting. Eucalyptus is a neurotoxin and may directly affect your dog’s nervous system. So increased consumption of cough drops with eucalyptus oil as the main component could lead to several neurological symptoms. These include mental confusion, depression, and even seizures.
That was about the ingredients. We would also have to consider two more hazards that cough drops may lead to in dogs:
- Sometimes dogs may swallow a whole cough drop if unable to chew the same. It could cause choking hazards. The risk is even more for puppies and small dogs like Chihuahua, Yorkie, etc.
- Another problem is intestinal obstruction. Your dog may not be adept at taking the cough drop out of the wrapper and consuming it. This results in the wrapper getting into his system. It could lead to an intestinal blockage, sometimes requiring surgery to be taken out.
Why Do Dogs Eat Cough Drops?
Dogs are curious beings and may chance upon anything that comes their way. Perhaps they’ve seen you have cough drops regularly. It may have increased their curiosity, tempting your pet to have some drops from the bottle in your absence.
Another reason could be the cough drops’ smell, which attracts them to it, compelling them to taste the same. That’s why keeping the cough drops in a secured place, right out of your dog’s reach is always advisable.
What Are the Signs of Cough Drop Toxicity?
The impact of cough drops on dogs depends on many things, like their weight, size, and the number of cough drops they have ingested. Sometimes the symptoms show up right after consuming the drops. In a few instances, the signs may take some days to become prominent.
Also, all dogs won’t show the same symptoms. A few might vomit a lot, while some may appear lazy and drowsy without other prominent symptoms. Let’s check out some of the common signs of cough drop toxicity in your dog, which you must be aware of.
- Feeling of lethargy and drowsiness
- Increased breathing
- A feeling of numbness in the mouth and throat
- Swelling around the jaw or face
- Choking hazard that may make your dog immensely restless
- Rapid breathing
- Coma (in severe cases)
It should be noted that healthy dogs could be less susceptible to cough drop toxicity if they haven’t consumed too much of it. It’s the puppies and small breeds that could get affected the most.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Cough Drops: 4 Important Things
Suppose you have identified that your dog has eaten cough drops. In that case, you must act fast to prevent unpleasant occurrences. These are some things you need to do from your end.
1. Remove the Source From Your Dog’s Sight
If you see the strips and lozenges lying all over the floor, your dog has hijacked the cough drops in your absence and indulged in eating the same. So, the first thing you must do is remove the remaining strips from your dog’s sight. In this way, he won’t be able to access more of the cough drops. While clearing the mess, you can even send him to the other room to make things easy for you.
2. Monitor Him Closely
It’s another important thing that you must do. It would help if you closely watched your pet’s symptoms. Sometimes your pet will show signs of toxicity right away, while at times, it could get prolonged.
That’s why it’s important to consult the vet the moment your dog consumes cough drops, whether he is showing symptoms or not. The vet can guide you on what to do if the matter goes out of control.
3. Make A Note of The Basic Things
Before contacting the vet, you should note some of the basic things regarding your dog’s ingesting cough drops. These include:
- What were the ingredients of the cough drops that your dog ate?
- How many cough drops your dog ate?
- Was it only the cough drops or even the wrapper that he ingested?
- Does he show any symptoms or look fine?
- What’s his size and weight?
- Does he take any medications for any underlying condition?
- How long has it been since your dog ate the cough drops?
When you have all this information, it would be easier for the doctor to assess the situation and start treatment as soon as possible.
4. Contact The Vet
It’s the most essential thing to do of all. Please do not try any remedies at home. Instead, contact the vet immediately once you find out your dog ate cough drops. He will advise the treatment procedure based on your dog’s symptoms. If your dog is okay, even after having the medicine, the vet might ask you to keep a watch on your dog. In the case of severity, he could suggest getting your dog to his office immediately.
Well, there isn’t a definite number of cough drops, the consumption of which could cause toxicity in dogs. It is quite evident that more cough drops mean more harm. But, sometimes, even a single cough drop can lead to dangerous consequences. It depends on your dog’s weight, age, and so on. Also, if the cough drop had xylitol, even a single drop of the medicine may harm your dog.
Thye care will depend on the severity of your dog’s condition and the advice of your vet. Follow the vet’s instructions to the tee, and do everything he says to help your dog recover soon. Take precautions as well. Shift all the cough drops to a cabinet, hard for your dogs to reach. Also, immediately after use, dispose of all the wappers in the trash can.
Cough drops are harmful to dogs. So, do all you can to ensure your pet doesn’t get access to the same. Do you have a dog who’s always doing the rounds, searching for things to pop into his mouth? It would help if you found ways to keep him busy. If he is crate trained, fill the crate with interesting toys so that he may remain engaged when you aren’t around.
As a pet owner, the onus lies on you to act immediately in the case of an emergency related to your dog. If it’s a cough drop ingestion, do not delay taking the necessary steps as soon as possible. Your vigilance and promptness could save your dog from serious trouble.
Meet Madison Phillips, your compassionate guide to pet well-being. With experience from VCA Animal Hospitals and Laxton Vet Clinics Bellaire Inc. Madison honed her skills and embraced the balance of medical expertise and compassion, through her articles, she simplifies pet care, whether you’re a newbie or an experienced pet parent.