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Veterinary Medications Can Pose a Threat to Children

Parents may not be aware of the dangers prescription veterinary medicines pose to children in their homes.  A study in the March 2017 issue of Pediatrics, “Pediatric Exposures to Veterinary Pharmaceuticals,” (published online Feb. 6) examined calls to the Central Ohio Poison Center over a 15-year period about children’s exposure to veterinary medicines. More than 1,400 calls were received during that time and 87 percent of those were for children under age 5. Most of the cases, 96 percent, were treated at home and led to no long-term harm to the children. Ingestion was the most common form of exposure. Authors found that children may pick up medication spit out by an animal, or get into food containing medication not fully eaten by an animal. Another source of contact is through topical administrations when a child may pet or play with an animal that recently received topical medication, thus transferring it to the child’s skin. The authors point out that it is important to educate parents and caregivers on the proper administration and storage of veterinary medicines, including limiting children’s access to the pet as medication is given and being sure all topical treatments dry before allowing contact between child and pet. All human medication should be stored separately from veterinary formulas so that there is no confusion between the two products. All medication should be stored in child-resistant packaging and kept out of reach children at all times.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.

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