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Petting the Cat Almost Killed It!

When you apply topical medicine to your skin there can be a residue left behind. Petting the cat can cause a life-threatening reaction!
Petting the Cat Almost Killed It!
Senior and cat, love and care, older people and animal

Most people rarely think about the topical medicines they put on their skin. Many folks believe that the skin is a barrier to drug absorption. Nothing could be further from the truth. We now know that sunscreens can be absorbed into the body. Drugs on human skin can also affect our dogs and cats. A woman discovered that petting the cat created a terribly toxic reaction.

Voltaren gel

Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel and the Cat:

Q. At the beginning of the pandemic, my doctor prescribed Voltaren gel for arthritis in my thumbs and wrists. I used it for three weeks and it really helped.

Then one day our cat was not right, acting listless and not eating. We took her to the vet and discovered her creatinine was over 3 and her BUN over 100. She was near death.

The year before, all her blood work was normal. The vets couldn’t understand how it could change so much in less than a year.

She spent five days in the hospital and had to get regular subcutaneous fluid infusions for six months. Her kidney function eventually came back to normal, but all this care cost about $4,000.

What happened was Voltaren gel residue got on her fur from my skin when I pet her. Then she would groom herself, which meant she was getting the drug. I found an article about this in a veterinary journal, but our vets had never heard of it. Now that Voltaren Arthritis Topical Gel is available over the counter, your readers with pets might want to know this.

Be Careful When Petting the Cat!

A. Thank you for sharing your story. We are relieved to hear your cat has recovered.

Cats are very sensitive to NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac (Voltaren). The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac is now available over the counter. It can be purchased as Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel, Aspercreme Arthritis Pain Reliever, Aleve Arthritis Pain Gel or a house brand generic diclofenac gel.

You can learn more about the pros and cons of topical diclofenac gel at this link

How Can Topical Diclofenac (Voltaren Gel) Hurt Your Stomach?
Some people love topical diclofenac for sprains, strains or inflamed joints. Others find that it causes the same nasty stomach symptoms as oral NSAIDs.

There is also this article

Will You Risk a Heart Attack with Diclofenac Gel?
If you use diclofenac gel to ease arthritis pain, will it increase your chance of a cardiovascular complication?

Petting the Cat and Other Drug Reactions:

Our veterinary consultants warn that both dogs and cats can get into trouble if they lick certain topical medicines, like hormones, corticosteroids or minoxidil, off their owners’ skin.

The FDA recently listed “Potentially Dangerous Items for Your Pet.”  They include NSAIDs and acetaminophen. You will also discover that grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts pose serious risks. Xylitol, a sugar substitute, can kill dogs. This sweetener is found in sugar-free gum, toothpaste, sugar-free candy and mouthwash.

Try Another Pain Reliever If Petting the Cat:

To keep your cat safe, you might want to consider other ways to manage your arthritis pain besides topical NSAIDs. In our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis we discuss several home remedies along with herbs such as ashwagandha, boswellia, turmeric, ginger stinging nettle, MSM and SAMe. This online resource may be found under the Health eGuides tab at this website.

Do you know someone who has a cat? If so, please consider sending this article to them. We have tried to make it easy by including icons at the top of the page. You can click on the icons for email, Facebook or Twitter to send this post along. Thank you for supporting our work. 

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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