Heartworm medication, flea prevention, dewormers, antibiotics, pain relievers – these are just a few of the medications that your pet may have been given or will be on at sometime during his or her lifetime. Over the years, pet parents tend to accumulate pet medications as the needs of their pets change. Some medications can expire in as little as two weeks while others may expire 2 or 3 years after they were dispensed. Unless you go through these medications frequently and check the expiration dates it is inevitable that you will find expired or unnecessary pet medications in your home. Once they are identified, it’s important to know how to properly dispose of these medications as well as how to properly store both current and old medications.
Because many of the medications you give your pet are tasty chewables, you must ensure that these medications are out of the reach of your pet. Medication should be stored in its original container, and should always have a safety cap on the bottle or vial. We all know when our little furry friends are determined they can chew through anything, so it is important that you store them in a cabinet or other area that you are sure won’t be accessible to them. Finally, you must be sure that medications are stored in a cool dry place unless otherwise specified.
Medications have an expiration date because over time, the potency of the medication declines. After the expiration date has passed, the medication is no longer proven to be effective by the manufacturer. So what are your options when you have discovered old or expired pet medication? Most people think of just throwing them away in the trash or flushing them down the toilet. Unfortunately, throwing the medication away as-is in the trash is not the best option because pets, children or others who have access to the trash can still recover and take these medications. Flushing the medications down the toilet is also not the best option because many of the medications pollute the water which has a negative impact on our fish and wildlife population.
The FDA along with the DEA have come up with ways to properly dispose of expired or unused prescription medications. These agencies recommend separating expired or unused pet medications from current pet medication and storing them until a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. These “take back” days happen about every six months and are usually held in locations such as colleges, city halls or other public venues. The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day occurs on Saturday April 27, 2013. You can find a collection site near you on the US Drug Enforcement Administration website.
Another way the FDA and DEA suggest disposing of medications is to throw them in the household trash, but take them out of their original containers and put them in a sealable bag along with coffee grounds, kitty litter or any other undesirable substance. It is important to note that there are certain medications that still must be flushed down the toilet to prevent danger to pets and people in the household. A list of these medications is available on the US Food and Drug Administration website.
Make sure you scratch out any identifiable information that may be on prescription label when disposing of these containers. If you are unsure about how to dispose of pet medication, consult your local pharmacist or veterinarian, or a 1800petmeds pharmacist. Through proper storage and discarding of unused or expired pet medication, we can be sure that our family and pets are safe, happy and healthy.