15 Human Over-the-Counter Drugs Safe for Dogs

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Some human drugs are dangerous and can even be fatal when given to dogs. When a dog develops a health problem at home such as vomiting, diarrhea, or coughing, many pet owners want to know what they can safely give their dogs at home before taking their dog to the veterinarian.

Not only is important to know which medications are safe but also which medications are available to you without a prescription. Drugs you may obtain without a prescription are referred to as “OTC” drugs which means over-the-counter. OTC drugs are available at most pharmacies such as Wal-Mart®, Walgreens®, CVS®, Target®, and/or online pharmacies and drug stores.

Below we will give you information about 30 over-the-counter medications (OTC) that are commonly used humans and can be used safely in most dogs.

We will include information about stomach medications which can be used in dogs with sensitive stomach or vomiting, drugs to treat diarrhea, pain medications, drugs for coughing, drugs that can be used to treat dogs that have allergies and are showing symptoms such as itching, medications to use on dogs that get car sick, and a safe eye product.

It is recommended that you work with your family veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog.

Human OTC Stomach Medications Used in Dogs

  1.     Famotidine (Pepcid®)

Famotidine, commonly known by the brand name Pepcid® among others, is a histamine H2 receptor antagonist that decreases the production of acid in the stomach. It is frequently used to treat stomach problems such ulcerations and for pets with nausea or are prone to vomiting.

Famotidine is the most commonly used in this class due to its improved mechanism of action and length of action.  Famotidine has largely replaced previous generation drugs, such as Cimetidine and Ranitidine. We will discuss these medications more below.

Famotidine is available in both injectable and oral tablet sizes. Common oral sizes include 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg. A common OTC size is 10 mg. A common dosage is 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg/pound once to twice a day.

For example, a 10-pound dog would get 2.5 mg to 5 mg total dose or ¼ to ½ of a 10 mg tablet.  A 20-pound dog would get 5 mg to 10 mg per dose which would be ½ to 1 10 mg tablet.

Here is more information on how to safely dose and use Famotidine in dogs.

  1.     Ranitidine (Zantac®)

Ranitidine, commonly known by the brand name Zantac among others, is a histamine H2 receptor antagonist that decreases the production of acid in the stomach. Like Famotidine listed above is commonly used to treat stomach problems such ulcerations.

Ranitidine is available in both injectable and oral tablet sizes. Common oral sizes include 75 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg. Here is an article on how to correctly dose and use Ranitidine in dogs.

  1.     Cimetidine (Tagamet®)

Cimetidine, commonly known by the brand name Tagamet® among others, is the oldest common histamine H2 receptor antagonist drug that decreases the production of acid in the stomach. Cimetidine is less commonly used due to the development of new and better drugs in the class of histamine H2 receptor antagonist.

However, in a pinch, some pet owners have this medication in their homes and can use Cimetidine. Famotidine (also known as Pepcid and discussed above) and Ranitidine are known as Zantac and discussed above) both have fewer drug interactions with longer activity.

The risks associated with Cimetidine mostly evolves around its interaction with other drugs. If your dog or cat is on other medications, it is better to choose a newer generation histamine H2 receptor antagonist such as famotidine (Pepcid) discussed above that does not have those same possible adverse effects from drug interactions.

Learn more about how to safely dose Cimetidine in dogs and drug interactions that you should know about.

  1.     Calcium Carbonate (Tums®)

Calcium carbonate, commonly known as Tums®, is an antacid and oral phosphate binder. It is commonly used as a calcium supplement in dogs with chronic hypocalcemia and to treat hyperphosphatemia associated with chronic renal (kidney) failure. Calcium carbonate can also be used as an oral antacid and for conditions such as esophagitis and/or gastroduodenal ulcerations. However, calcium carbonate is uncommonly prescribed as an antacid as there are stronger and more effective antacids.

There are many oral calcium carbonate products available in chewable and regular tablets in common sizes are 500 mg, 750 mg, and 1000mg. There is also oral suspensions 1250 mg/5mL.

The dose most commonly used in dogs as an antacid is 0.5 grams and up to 5 grams total dose orally every 4 hours as needed.  Small dogs can receive 500 mg, medium sized dogs 750 to 1000 mg and larger dogs 2000 mg.

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