A popular skin cream for dogs that is used to treat and prevent cancer has been associated with deaths of five beloved family pets, after the pups accidentally consumed some of the product — prompting the FDA to warn pet parents to keep the product out of reach.
The toxic cream in question is known as fluorouracil, which is sold under the brand names Carac, Efudex, and Fluoroplex.
The FDA reports, “In one case, two dogs began playing with a tube of fluorouracil and one punctured the tube before their owner could retrieve it. Within two hours, the dog that punctured the tube began vomiting, experienced seizures, and died 12 hours later.” (Related: Keep up with FDA headlines at FDA.news)
In another, unrelated case, a dog managed to find a tube of the cancer cream and proceeded to ingest it. After realizing the dog had consumed the cream, the owner immediately rushed their pet to the veterinarian’s office. Unfortunately, the federal agency says, the dog fell sick anyway and was euthanized.
The FDA warns,”People using this medication should use care when applying and storing the medication if they are also in a household with pets, as even very small amounts could be dangerous to these animals.”
Additionally, the FDA has warned that fluorouracil can also be toxic to cats — who could be accidentally exposed to the product as well. The FDA notes that if an owner were to touch a cat after applying the product to another pet, the amount consumed while the cat grooms themselves would likely be enough to cause a reaction. (RELATED: Stay up to date on warnings about prescription medicine at Medicine.news)
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What is mind-boggling about all of this is the simple fact that dogs also lick themselves. If you have ever tried to put anything on your dog, you know how quickly they will find a way to lick it off. That’s why the FDA is suggesting that if you use this product on your dog, you should consult with your vet to see what options there are to ensure your dog cannot lick it off.
While many products may cause some gastrointestinal distress if accidentally consumed, death is not really an acceptable side effect of accidental consumption when it comes to products geared for pets. Fluorouracil can be extremely toxic even in small amounts.
What is fluorouracil, and why is it so toxic?
The chemical name for this poisonous skin cancer treatment is 5-fluourouracil and it is a pyrimidine analog that is an antimetabolite. It is capable of destroying rapidly dividing cells, and a number of ill effects — like killing your dog.
A toxicology report, published in 2001, states that while any form of 5-fluorouracil can cause problems, most issues arise when dogs find the tube of cream and start chewing on it. Jay Albretsen, DVM, PhD, DABT, explains that ingesting less than half of a 25 milligram tube of 5% fluorouracil will likely be fatal to any dog that weighs 70 pounds or less. Albretsen says that even a 160-pound dog would experience adverse effects from such a minuscule amount, let alone an average-sized pup. Albretsen also commented that the small size of the tube would permit even small dogs to consume its contents with relative ease.
One of the top problems with fluorouracil is that many times, pharmacists or other professionals may not be away of how toxic this compound is to pets. In some instances, pet owners have even been erroneously told that the cream isn’t toxic to animals. However, fluorouracil routinely induces vomiting and seizures when consumed by household pets. These seizures grow more aggressive and difficult to treat, and unfortunately, often leads to an untimely death for the dog.
Albretsen explains that the severe toxicosis seen in dogs exposed to fluorouracil is not fully understood, but there is at least one hypothesis. It is thought that when the 5-fluorouracil breaks down into fluorocitrate, it causes cerebral ataxia and convulsions. The potential for fluorouracil to produce such neurotoxic effects has been recognized at least since the 1970s, though it is generally considered to be a rare occurence in humans.
Regardless, it is a known risk for dogs. For your pet’s safety, be sure to keep this product — and truly, any medicine of any kind — in a place where they cannot get to it.
(Keep up with the latest headlines on chemical toxins at Toxins.news)