Can Cough Drops Kill a Dog? Pet Safety Tips

As a dog owner, it’s essential to be aware of the potential hazards that seemingly harmless household items can pose to your pet. One such item is the common cough drop. While it may seem unlikely that something as small and inconsequential as a cough drop could cause significant harm, it’s important to understand that certain ingredients found in these products can be toxic to dogs.

Cough drops are designed to provide relief from cold and flu symptoms in humans, but for our furry friends, they’re bad for a dog’s health.

Don’t let your dog eat cough drops. Most cough drops contain ingredients like sugar, menthol, eucalyptus oil, and artificial colors and flavors, which can cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested by a dog.

However, some cough drops contain more dangerous ingredients such as xylitol(an artificial sweetener) and benzocaine, which can lead to severe health complications in dogs, including hypoglycemia, liver damage, and even death in some cases.

Given the potential risks, it’s crucial to ensure that cough drops and similar products are stored safely out of reach from curious dogs. If your dog does accidentally ingest cough drops, be sure to monitor them for any signs of distress and consult with a veterinarian if necessary.


Can Cough Drops Be Harmful to Dogs?

Cough drops are commonly used by humans to soothe a sore throat or to relieve cough symptoms. But what happens if a dog ingests some cough drops? While some ingredients in cough drops are relatively harmless to dogs, there are a few ingredients that can be toxic and pose a threat to their health.

Xylitol Toxicity

Xylitol is a sugar substitute often found in sugar-free cough drops and other sugar-free products. It is highly toxic to dogs and can cause rapid insulin release, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and possible liver injury. The severity of the effects depends on the amount of xylitol present in the cough drops and the number of drops ingested by the dog.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

It’s essential to check the ingredient list on the cough drops to determine if xylitol is present and to keep such products out of reach from your pets.

Menthol and Eucalyptus Dangers

Menthol and eucalyptus oil are common ingredients in cough drops that can also cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs when ingested. While these ingredients may not be as dangerous as xylitol, they can still lead to discomfort and potential health issues for your pet.

Some of the potential issues related to menthol and eucalyptus ingestion in dogs include:

  • Stomach irritation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing difficulties (in high quantities)

While cough drops may not always be lethal to dogs, they can cause unnecessary distress and health problems. It’s best to keep cough drops and other medications out of reach from your pets and to consult with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has ingested any harmful substances.


Symptoms of Cough Drop Poisoning

Can Dogs have cough drops

Cough drops may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. It’s essential to be aware of the symptoms that may arise after a dog ingests these substances. This section will cover the signs of xylitol poisoning, as well as menthol and eucalyptus symptoms in dogs.

Signs of Xylitol Poisoning

Xylitol is a sugar substitute commonly found in sugar-free products. It can be extremely toxic to dogs and may lead to severe symptoms including:

  • Vomiting: One of the earliest signs of xylitol poisoning
  • Weakness and Lethargy: The dog may struggle to keep its balance and appear tired
  • Loss of Coordination: Difficulty walking or standing up
  • Seizures: In more severe cases, xylitol poisoning can cause seizures
  • Rapid Breathing: Increased respiratory rate
  • Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar levels
  • Collapse and Coma: In extreme cases, xylitol poisoning can result in a comatose state

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately.

Menthol and Eucalyptus Symptoms

Menthol and eucalyptus oil are common ingredients in cough drops and can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Symptoms of menthol and eucalyptus ingestion may include:

  • Nausea and Vomiting: Indicative of an upset stomach which may result from ingesting these substances
  • Diarrhea: Loose and frequent stools
  • Decreased Appetite: The dog may show a lack of interest in food
  • Drooling: Excessive saliva production
  • Abdominal Pain: The dog may exhibit discomfort and sensitivity in their abdominal area

While these symptoms may be less severe than those of xylitol poisoning, it’s essential to monitor your dog and consult with a veterinarian if you suspect they’ve ingested cough drops containing menthol and eucalyptus.


What to Do If Your Dog Ingests Cough Drops

Immediate Actions

If your dog ingests cough drops, the first thing to do is check the ingredients list. Most cough drops contain sugar, menthol, eucalyptus oil, colors, and flavors, which can cause gastrointestinal upset in pets.

If your dog starts to choke, there are a few actions to take:

  1. Keep calm and remove any packaging from the dog’s mouth.
  2. Check if the cough drop is dislodged on its own.

When to Contact a Veterinarian

It is essential to contact your veterinarian or an emergency hospital as soon as possible if your dog ingests cough drops, especially if it contains toxic ingredients such as xylitol or certain cold and flu medications3. It’s better not to wait for symptoms, as time plays a crucial role in treatment.

For further guidance, you can also call the Pet Poison Helpline, which can help navigate the appropriate treatment steps for your pet.

Remember, being aware and taking prompt action can save your canine companion from potential harm.


Prevention and Keeping Your Dog Safe

Pet-Proofing Your Home

To prevent your dog from accidentally ingesting cough drops or other potentially harmful substances, it is essential to pet-proof your home. Take the following steps:

  • Store medications and cough drops out of reach: Keep them in closed cabinets or containers that your dog cannot access.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings: Do not leave purses, backpacks, or jackets with cough drops or medication within your dog’s reach.
  • Be cautious during illness: When you or a family member is sick and using cough drops, be extra vigilant about where they are placed.
  • Educate children: Teach kids the importance of keeping medications and potentially harmful substances away from pets.

Safe Alternatives for Dog Coughs

If your dog has a cough, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Your vet may recommend safe, pet-specific alternatives to human cough drops, such as:

  • Honey: A small amount of honey can help soothe a dog’s cough and provide relief. Always consult with your vet for the appropriate dosage.
  • Herbal cough remedies: Some herbal remedies, like marshmallow root or slippery elm, can help soothe a dog’s throat and alleviate coughing. Consult with your vet before using these substances.
  • Steam therapy: Providing your dog with some steamy air by turning on a hot shower or using a humidifier can help moisten their airways and soothe coughing.
  • Prescribed medications: Your veterinarian may prescribe medication specifically designed for your dog’s condition, ensuring safety and effectiveness.

Remember, always consult with your veterinarian about your dog’s specific health needs and never administer human medications without approval. By taking preventive measures and seeking proper treatment, you can help keep your dog safe and healthy.