Some human medications are best absorbed through the skin: It’s the best way to treat a handful of skin conditions, and researchers are finding that topical pain medication may be more effective for many ailments. The instructions with topical medications usually warn you to wash your hands and avoid getting it on your face or in your eyes, but they don’t tell you what could happen if you pet your dog after applying or if your cat rubs up against skin that’s been treated. Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a problem with a kind of topical pain reliever, called flurbiprofen, and pet cats. Cats became ill and died in two different homes where the owners were using a product that combined flurbiprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxer. In these two cases, the owners were using the product on their necks and feet, respectively. Other cats in other homes also got ill but recovered. Warning Signs to Watch for in Your Pet The cats that died were found to have kidney damage that was consistent with an NSAID overdose. They showed some of the following symptoms before they died: Lethargy Vomiting No interest in eating Black or bloody stools Dilute urine or trouble urinating The animals impacted were cats, but dogs, small mammals and even horses may be at risk. Any time your pet shows signs like this, it is considered an emergency and you should visit your veterinarian or animal hospital immediately. Keeping Medications Safe People in the homes where the cats died believed they were being careful about their medications. There is no evidence to show how the cats came into contact with the medication, but it is possible that the owners got some on their hands, and then petted their cats, transferring the flurbiprofen to the cats’ fur. When they groomed, the cats could have ingested enough to make them sick. Another possibility is that the cats rubbed up against the owners’ skin, or walked through an area where the owner had walked with the medication still on his or her feet. In order to protect your pets, take the following precautions with any topical medication you use: Keep medicines where pets cannot access them. Wash your hands carefully after applying medications.  Cover or protect your skin after applying medications. Keep clothing that may have medicine residue out of the reach of pets before it is washed. Consider using a covered laundry hamper. Avoid getting any medication on carpets or furnishings. If you suspect your pet may have accessed a human medication, call your vet, animal hospital or...

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