What Do I Do If My Pet Gets into My ADHD Medication?

August 31, 2023


Sadly, summer vacation has come to an end, and across the country students and teachers are returning to school. That means new school supplies, busy early mornings and packed lunches. It also means our experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC)  usually see a spike in calls regarding pets and Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medications. As we know, medications (both prescription and over the counter) can be dangerous and are commonly ingested by pets. Having all the information you need to keep your pets safe is critical. 

So, here’s what you can do if your pet ingests ADHD medication.

What happens if my pet ingests ADHD medication?

Just a small amount of ADHD medication could be dangerous for pets. Most ADHD medications are stimulants, and when dogs ingest stimulants you can see an increase in activity, such as pacing, walking in circles and restless behavior, along with changes in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. When cats ingest stimulant ADHD drugs, they may also show an increase in activity, or they may sit unusually still and stare for long periods of time. However, they may also have an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, despite their lack of outward hyperactivity.  

Signs and symptoms can develop very quickly, within 15 minutes of ingestion, or can be delayed by several hours. How soon problems develop after ingesting ADHD medication and how long symptoms last depends on the specific medication and formulation. Once signs do develop, they can last 24 to 72 hours. If left untreated, these symptoms can worsen and in severe cases, become life-threatening. It is important to address the issue of exposure as soon as it is discovered by calling the APCC at (888) 426-4435 or your local veterinarian immediately. 

Is ADHD medication exposure treatable? 

The good news is that ADHD medication exposure in pets is treatable. Most often, symptomatic pets will need to stay in a veterinary hospital until they’ve fully recovered, and the medication has left their system. Your veterinarian may treat your pet with medications to ease their symptoms and alleviate elevated blood pressure. Therapies to help keep your pet at a normal body temperature may also be a part of treatment. 

Organ damage from ADHD medications is rare but has been seen, especially in pets that have a delay in receiving treatment and exhibit significant symptoms. Getting prompt veterinary care for your pet is an important step in limiting the amount of damage from these medication exposures. 

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