When our pets are ill or in pain we naturally want to help them as quickly as possible. However, instead of immediately seeking professional help by way of a visit to the vets, an estimated 1.4 million cat and dog owners in the UK take matters into their own hands and actually give their pets potentially toxic medicines designed for humans.

That’s according to new research by pet insurer MORE TH>N, conducted with 1,000 cat and dog owners in the UK. Of the one in 11 (9%) people that admitted to having given human pills to their pets, the most common medicines were anti-histamines (36%), paracetamol (28%), antiseptic creams (21%), ibuprofen (17%) and aspirin (14%) - dispensed for complaints ranging from injured paws to cuts and insect and nettle stings. In the last 12 months alone, these owners admit to having given their animals human medications an average of seven times.

Looking at the key reasons why owners are giving human drugs to their pets, 35% claimed they were trying to avoid incurring vet costs, while 21% didn’t feel the injury or ailment warranted a trip to the vets. Additionally, 33% of those polled felt compelled to give their pet some form of quick pain relief after seeing them suffering, while 27% misguidedly believed that over the counter human medications were actually safe for pets to consume. 

Andrew Moore BVM&S MRCVS, pet claims veterinary consultant, MORE TH>N said: "Pet owners risk significant harm to their pet’s wellbeing by giving them medicines designed for humans with liver failure and kidney damage among a litany of potential health complications that arise from seemingly harmless over the counter products.