Commonly Found Dangerous Drugs in Veterinary Medicine

Dangerous drugs in veterinary medicine refer to pharmaceutical and biological agents that can cause specific health effects in humans. Some of these effects are skin rashes, respiratory illnesses, cancer, and reproductive complications with high toxicities even at low doses. The use of these medications ranges from daily to infrequent procedures. Despite the consistency, it’s each staff member’s responsibility to stay current on appropriate handling and usage within the hospital. Properly training all applicable team members to understand the risks of hazardous drugs is the first step toward protecting staff and keeping the hospital safe.

Over 5,000 approved prescriptions and over-the-counter medications are labeled for veterinary patients, and a fair quantity of those drugs presents a health risk to humans. Some of the heaviest hitters in the veterinary pharmaceutical world are Chloramphenicol, Ketamine, Xylazine, and Fentanyl. The short-acting anesthetic, Ketamine, is an example of a medication used in veterinary and human health fields, but with two very different formulations. The veterinary formulations are 10 times stronger than human formulations, as Ketamine use may be prescribed for 1,200 lb. horses and therefore pose a toxic risk to 120 lb. humans. Not all harmful medications are prescribed for sedation or pain management. Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic that either kills bacteria or inhibits their growth. It's an older medication that requires the use of both gloves and a respirator during handling.

Chemotherapeutic agents, primarily intended for treating cancer in animals, are powerful drugs with the potential to harm both the patient and those administering them. These drugs require stringent handling protocols to prevent exposure and adverse effects on veterinary staff and pet owners.

By fostering awareness, education, and adherence to established guidelines, veterinary professionals and pet owners can collectively ensure the responsible use of medications and minimize the dangers associated with hazardous drugs in veterinary medicine. Through diligence and a commitment to safety, the veterinary community endeavors to provide optimal care while safeguarding the welfare of animals and those who care for them.

Please note that this article serves as an informational piece and does not replace professional veterinary advice. Consult a licensed veterinarian for specific guidance regarding medications and treatments for your pets.