Expired Drugs in Your Pet’s Medicine Cabinet
Late one night, Karen found herself frantically searching her pet’s medicine cabinet for something to ease her dog Bella’s sudden discomfort. Desperate to help, she administered the first medication she found, only to realize moments later that it had expired months ago. Panic set in as she wondered what the consequences might be. It’s important to keep a close eye on expiration dates, understanding the potential risks of using outdated medications, and how to properly dispose of them.
Pharmacists are required to place an “expiration date” on every prescription they write. But does it help patients? And what about pets? We asked our experts about the expired pet medication in your pet’s medicine cabinet.
The Food and Drug Administration says no evidence shows that limiting the expiration date improves patient health or reduces medication errors. In addition, some studies show expired medications pose a greater risk to consumers because they could contain bacteria or fungi that cause infections.
You should always check the manufacturer’s expiration date before giving any medication to your pet. Pets can develop adverse reactions to certain drugs, including those used to treat heart disease, cancer, seizures, arthritis, diabetes, kidney problems, and even depression.
What Does an Expiration Date Mean on Your Pet’s Medicine?
Expiration dates are often found in medication packaging, indicating how long you can safely take a product without experiencing adverse side effects. But what do they mean?
An expiration date means nothing more than the time the manufacturer has determined that the product will lose its effectiveness. It doesn’t guarantee that the drug won’t harm your pet.
Some meds are safe for years after their expiration date, while others may be dangerous if taken past the recommended period of use. Most medications (with a few exceptions) retain at least 70 to 80% effectiveness for at least one to two years after their expiry date, even though it is difficult to predict which items may have a long shelf life.
For example, if you have a dog with a history of seizures, you may want to avoid using a seizure medication that expires after three years. The reason: If the drug loses its potency over time, it may not work as well when your pet needs it most.
Medications expire because they lose potency over time. This happens when chemical reactions slow down or stop altogether. When this occurs, the medication loses its effectiveness and becomes ineffective. Therefore, the FDA requires manufacturers to list the date of expiration on each bottle of prescription drugs.
This helps patients avoid taking expired medications, which can be dangerous. However, many pet owners fail to notice the expiration date until after their pets have taken medicine. As a result, you may give your pet expired medication if you’re unaware of the expiration date. This can cause serious health problems, including death.
To prevent this problem, keep track of the expiration date of your pet’s medicines. You can replace any expired pet medications before giving them to your pet.
Can Expired Meds Be Harmful to Your Pet?
When it comes to medication, expiration dates should be taken seriously. Even if the medicines look and smell okay, consuming them after their labeled expiration date can be dangerous due to a change in chemical composition or a decrease in strength. With warning, these drugs may provide effective aid or even cause harm.
If you’re not careful, some medications you give your pets may expire before you realize it. This means the medicine won’t work anymore, and your pet could suffer serious health problems. When your pet’s meds pass, throw out all unused pills.
Some medications can be dangerous if given to animals past their expiration date. For instance, giving your cat a pill that expires after five years may not work correctly, and your cat could experience severe allergic reactions or other complications from the medication.
Other medications can become toxic if your pet takes them past their expiration date. These include anti-seizure medications, pain relievers, antibiotics, and thyroid hormones.
Best Way to Dispose of Medications
Expired, unused, and unwanted medicines should never be flushed or thrown in the trash. Instead, U.S. residents should dispose of their medications properly to ensure they are safely and securely removed from circulation.
To provide an easy and accessible solution, over 300 collection boxes have been placed at law enforcement facilities and pharmacies around the country. Clients using these sites don’t need to wait in line or show identification—hand in their old medications discreetly!
These sites accept all household medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter medications like aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.
Collecting unused medications through these sites helps keep them out of water sources and prevents others from accidental or intentional misuse of drugs that would otherwise be lying around the house.
If you have expired medications in your pet’s medicine cabinet, it is essential to dispose of them properly. Expired drugs can be dangerous if taken by your pet, so getting rid of them as soon as possible is critical.
You Can Return It to the Pharmacy
One of the best ways to dispose of expired medications is to take them back to the pharmacy where you purchased them. Many pharmacies offer a medication disposal program allowing you to dispose of your pet’s expired medications safely.
You can sell your expired medications at a discount if you’re lucky enough to live near a pharmacy. They usually accept expired medications and will dispose of them safely.
However, this is only sometimes possible. Some pharmacies require you to dispose of the medication, and others charge a small fee.
If you don’t have access to a pharmacy, you can also take your expired medications to a hazardous waste disposal facility. This is the safest way to get rid of expired meds, as they are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
Don’t Flush Medicines Down the Drain
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) warns residents not to flush medicines down the toilet or drain. When medications are flushed down the toilet, they enter waterbodies and contaminate them. In addition, studies conducted by the MPCA have found endocrine-disrupting compounds interfering with the reproduction of animals, as well as antibiotics in lakes, rivers, and streams. This can have profound implications for wildlife health.
Additionally, bacteria exposed to these antibiotics can become resistant, leading to drug-resistant bacteria that threaten public health.
It is also important not to store prescription drugs in home cabinets which poses the risk of accidental poisoning or misuse when left within reach. Medications can be safely disposed of by flushing down the toilet or drain, which can lead to them entering the wastewater treatment system. Unfortunately, many of these treatment systems are not designed to remove medications from the water leading to pharmaceuticals contaminating source waters downstream.
Improper disposal of old medications is a concern, as it can lead to dangerous drugs ending up in the wrong hands. That’s why it is essential to safely discard any leftover prescription or over-the-counter pills by mixing them with something like coffee grounds and sealing the mixture in a bag before throwing it away.
No matter how you dispose of your pet’s expired medications, it is essential to do so safely and responsibly. Expired drugs can be dangerous if your pet is taken, so please ensure you get rid of them as soon as possible.
Keeping track of the expiration dates on your pet’s medications is also essential. Then, please ensure you replace expired medicines before giving them to your pet.
How Should I Store My Pet’s Medicines to Maintain Their Shelf Life?
Medications are essential tools used to treat disease and improve health. They come in many forms, including pills, liquids, creams, patches, gels, ointments, sprays, inhalers, eye drops, suppositories, and others. These products contain active ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, proteins, hormones, steroids, antibiotics, antiseptics, analgesics, antihistamines, decongestants, antipyretics, and others.
When you give medications to your pet, it enters their body and goes where it needs to go. However, some medicines are sensitive to heat, light, moisture, oxygen, and air pressure changes, making storing them difficult because they lose effectiveness over time.
The best way to preserve the potency of your pet’s medications is to keep them cool and dry. You can keep them out of direct sunlight and away from extreme temperatures. If you must store them in a refrigerator, ensure they are set to a temperature no greater than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Please keep them dark and avoid exposing them to excessive humidity.
If you use a medicine cabinet, ensure it is well-ventilated and free of dust and dirt. Ensure adequate ventilation is near the door and that the door itself does not block airflow. Also, make sure the medicine cabinet is clean and organized. Remove expired items and replace them with new ones.
You can also store your pet’s medications in a safe container. A plastic baggie works excellently for this purpose. Please do not put anything else inside the baggie; fill it with your medications. Be careful not to touch the outside of the baggie with your hands. Use gloves to protect yourself from contamination.
Finally, could you ask a pharmacist how long your pet’s medications should be kept? They can help you determine what type of packaging is appropriate for each product.
Frequently Asked Questions
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