Half of animal medical products are also used for humans
Let’s say your dog has a small wound – for example, from a walk in the woods. Once you take him to the vet, you would be surprised to learn that the medicine that you receive for your pet might be familiar from personal use.
For example, an ointment for skin rashes on dogs also used for genital diseases in humans. It is common that dogs and their owners “share” their medicines – the only major difference lies in what they are used for and how much is needed. At the request of barfi.ch, a vet from the "Mondo" veterinary practice explained: “About 50 per cent of all medicine for animals comes from human medicine.” While the dosage and administration may differ, the contents remain the same. “Cats and dogs are far less heavy than we are; therefore we cannot prescribe the same amount of medicine for them.”
But it need not be the case that you will automatically receive the same medicine for an ache or pain as the one which you just rubbed on your beloved pet: “A company can decide to register its product in Switzerland for use on animals but not for humans,” Basel cantonal pharmacist Esther Ammann said. There are “various reasons” for this decision, she said. For one, economic factors can play a role – for example, when the additional costs for the registration of a medicine are not profitable. There can also be professional reasons because the authorities of some countries might have different security requirements for medicines. In one country, a specific medicine can be used for human treatment while it is forbidden in another.
Dog medicine as doping
After a consultation, your vet may well give you a medicine prescription for your pet that you already have in your own first aid kit. However, this does not mean that you should use your own medicine on your pet when the animal is injured: Such a decision can have dire consequences for the animal. You should always consult a vet first, and the dosage needs to be closely monitored as well: “Interestingly, there are certain medical products that cats need more than dogs in order for them to have an effect,” the spokesperson for at “Mondo” said.
And what about the other way round? It happens only very rarely that humans use animal medicine. Some products can even have an entirely different effect on humans, Lydia Isler, head pharmacist at the Seevogel drugstore knows. “There was this case where a customer bought a product into our drugstore to treat his dog's incontinence. The same substance is used for doping in human medicine. I soon noticed that this dog needed far more of the product than necessary…”
Ointments used to treat animal wounds, fungal infections, or inflammations bear the most resemblance to similar products applied in human medicine. Often, what we use for our animals contains the same substances that we put on our sport injuries.
It is no coincidence that humans and animals share certain medicines: “Most medical products are originally tested on animals, particularly those applied externally,” Ms Isler said. “But I have to emphasise again: Never give any of your own medicine to your dog or your cat before you have consulted an expert.” She added that the way medical conditions in pet rodents and other small animals are treated is an entirely different story altogether.