FDA Issues Warning Against this Medicine Cabinet Staple

Pet owners, beware!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an official warning that topical pain medications containing flurbiprofen are dangerous to animals, especially cats.

Flurbiprofen, one of many non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), is used to treat to relieve the symptoms of arthritis and muscle pain, but even small amounts of the drug can be fatal to feline friends. Most troubling, however, is not that owners carelessly left out their medicine and the cats got into it, or that it was applied directly to the cats, but that trace amounts people applied to themselves then came into contact with their pets and proved deadly.

Two households were impacted.

Two cats in one household developed kidney failure and recovered with veterinary care. Two cats in a second household developed signs that included reluctance to eat, lethargy, vomiting, melena (black, tarry, bloody stools), anemia, and dilute urine. These two cats died despite veterinary care. A third cat in the second household also died after the owner had stopped using the medication. Veterinarians performed necropsies on the three cats that died and found evidence in the kidneys and intestines that were consistent with NSAID toxicity.

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At this time it is unclear in what way the cats were exposed to the medicine. Due to this, the FDA recommends pet owners use extreme caution when using flurbiprofen anywhere around animals. They issued the following recommendations:

  • Store all medications safely out of the reach of pets.
  • Safely discard or clean any cloth or applicator that may retain medication and avoid leaving any residues of the medication on clothing, carpeting or furniture.
  • Consult your health care provider on whether it is appropriate to cover the treated area.
  • If you are using topical medications containing flurbiprofen and your pet becomes exposed, bathe or clean your pet as thoroughly as possible and consult a veterinarian.
  • If your pet shows signs such as lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, or other illness, seek veterinary care for your pet and be sure to provide the details of the exposure.
  • Understand that, although the FDA has not received reports of dogs or other pets becoming sick in relation to the use of topical pain medications containing flurbiprofen, these animals may also be vulnerable to NSAID toxicity after being exposed to these medications.

If your pet shows any symptoms of flurbiprofen exposure, make sure to get them to a veterinarian right away! Pet owners and veterinarians can also report any adverse events to the FDA.

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