Medicinal cream causing death in dogs

Many of us love our dogs unconditionally and consider them a part of the family. Losing them can be devastating, especially when under avoidable circumstances.

brown log looking quizzically at camera

Recently the FDA has received reports of dogs dying from exposure to medicated creams containing fluorouracil. When ingested, the active ingredient can be deadly to pets. If a dog were to lick a person’s skin after that person had applied the medicine, the dog could be at risk of death.

What is fluorouracil?

Fluorouracil is an FDA-approved chemotherapy drug that is widely used to treat a variety of cancers, including skin cancer. It is also sometimes used to treat warts in children. It is occasionally used in veterinary medicine to treat cancer in horses.


Products containing fluorouracil

Fluorouracil can either be injected or applied to the skin as a topical cream. The following list contains brand names of topical cream products that contain the drug:

  • Efudex
  • Carac
  • Tolak
  • Fluoroplex

What should I do if my dog ingested fluorouracil?

Your dog could ingest the drug by chewing on the medicine container or licking the skin where the product was applied. If you use any of the aforementioned products, it is important to know the signs of fluorouracil poisoning in pets. The signs can be sudden, starting within 30 minutes, and include:

  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea

Death can occur in as little as 6 to 12 hours after exposure. In the unfortunate event that your pet has been exposed, you must act immediately. Seek veterinary care and bring the medicine with you.


What can I do to keep my pets safe?

To prevent pet exposure to fluorouracil, you should:

  • Keep your products containing the drug out of reach of your pets.
  • Once containers are emptied, be sure to dispose of them in areas that your pet will not be able to reach.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about the option of covering the area with clothing or gauze to protect your pet from licking your skin.

Other items that can harm dogs

In addition to fluorouracil, there are many other household items to watch out for that have the potential to cause harm to your dog:

  • Pharmaceuticals intended for human use only
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Grapes
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions and garlic in larger quantities
  • Alcohol
  • Cleaning products
  • Detergents
  • Fabric softeners
  • Insecticides
  • Batteries

We at Allen & Allen know that pets are valued members of the family. Keeping our pets safe is a responsibility we all share.