How to Identify a Pill If Your Pet Ingests an Unknown Medication

April 25, 2024


Pet parents should always be aware of the medications that both they and their pets are taking and how those medications are stored. However, it is not uncommon for pet parents to come across an unknown pill that they may have dropped or to discover that their pet got into a baggie or container of a guest’s medication. Luckily, our experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) put together this step-by-step guide on how to identify an unknown pill and the resources available to pet parents.

Step 1: Examine the pill closely for any markings, such as imprints or numbers, and note the color and shape of the pill. This information can be used to narrow down the possible options in step two. 

Step 2: There are several tools available online that can help identify an unknown pill. 

Use one of the below resources to help you potentially identify the pill:

Step 3: If the pill cannot be identified using the online resources and it was a prescription medication, you should contact your prescriber. They should be able to look up the name and strength of the medication and even tell you how many pills were sent home. If this was not a prescription medication, a veterinarian or pharmacist may be able to identify the pill based on their knowledge and experience or may refer you to a poison control center for further assistance. 

If you are unable to identify the pill and you believe your pet may have ingested the medication, you should contact your veterinarian right away. If you are able to identify the pill, it’s still a good idea to contact your veterinarian or APCC to determine the best next steps based on the amount and type of medication.

Important Reminder: Keeping medications well out of paw’s reach is critical to avoid any potential mishaps. and stored in a secure location, such as a locked cabinet or drawer. This includes not only prescription medications but also over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements. 

Extra Tips: 

  • Keep medications in the bottle that they came in so they can be easily identified and avoid storing different medications in the same container. 
  • You can also let any guests know to keep their personal items up and away from curious paws and noses.

Follow these steps to prevent accidental exposure to medications and ensure that your pets remain safe, happy and healthy! 

If you suspect your pet may have ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.