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BREAKING ALERT: FDA Warns Of Illnesses And Deaths In Pets Exposed To Prescription Topical Pain Medications Containing Flurbiprofen

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April 17, 2015 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners, veterinarians, health care providers and pharmacists that pets are at risk of illness and death when exposed to topical pain medications containing the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) flurbiprofen.

People using these medications, should use care when applying them in a household with pets, as even very small amounts could be dangerous to these animals.

The FDA has received reports of cats in two households that became ill or died after their owners used topical medications containing flurbiprofen on themselves to treat muscle, joint, or other pain. The pet owners had applied the cream or lotion to their own neck or feet, and not directly to the pet, and it is not known exactly how the cats became exposed to the medication. The products contained the NSAID flurbiprofen and the muscle relaxer cyclobenzaprine, as well as other varying active ingredients, including baclofen, gabapentin, lidocaine, or prilocaine.

In the first household, two cats developed kidney failure and recovered with veterinary care.

In the second, two cats 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.

It could be that the cat's licked their owners after the topical had been applied. Image source: @Rikki’sRefuge via Flickr
It could be that the cat’s licked their owners after the topical had been applied. Image source: @Rikki’sRefuge via Flickr

The FDA recommends that people who use topical medications containing flurbiprofen take care to prevent their pets from being exposed to them, even in ways that may seem unlikely to cause problems.

  • 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.

Veterinarians who have patients who show signs of NSAID toxicity should ask whether anyone in the household has used topical pain medications containing flurbiprofen.

Health care providers who prescribe topical pain medications containing flurbiprofen and pharmacists who fill these prescriptions should advise patients with pets to take care to prevent exposure of the pet to the medication.

The FDA urges pet owners and veterinarians to report any adverse events to the FDA.

Medication Guide For Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

 

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