What do ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antidepressants, methylphenidate (used to treat ADHD), anti-diabetic drugs, and vitamin D derivatives all have in common?
They are all on the top 10 list of human medications that poison pets according to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center.

“It is extremely important that people properly store and dispose of their medications”, said Laura Kammin, IISG pollution prevention specialist, “it doesn’t matter whether the medicine is intended for people or pets.”

For several years now, IISG has been providing people with science-based information on how to properly store and dispose of their unused medications, including pet medications. “We are always looking for new partners to help us educate people on this issue,” said Kammin. And partnering with vets is exactly what IISG is beginning to do, starting with an exhibitor’s booth at the American Veterinary Medical Association Convention that took place in St. Louis, MO on July 16–18.

Over 8,500 veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary students, and some families attended the convention, many of whom walked the exhibitor’s hall and saw the IISG display. Kammin, along with IISG staff members Robin Goettel, and Terri Hallesy, spoke with 168 attendees from 31 states, Canada, Egypt, and Brazil about how they can start incorporating the message of proper storage and disposal into information they provide their clients.

Many of the people were aware of the issue, and were excited to see materials that could help them educate their clients. Karen Liljebjelke, DVM, commented, “In the three vet med courses I teach at the University of Calgary, I not only share information about the proper use of pet medicine, but also make sure to discuss proper disposal techniques.” She added that IISG fact sheets and service-learning curriculum will be useful to her students.

As a result of Sea Grant’s participation in the meeting, C. Trenton Boyd, a veterinary medical librarian, will help distribute information on this topic by sharing posts through the International Veterinary Librarians Discussion Group, a forum reaching hundreds of professionals in university veterinary schools.

You too can do your part. Following a few simple steps can help prevent negative environmental impacts, accidental poisoning of people and pets, and diversion and abuse. Simply take back unused medications (for people or pets) to a local collection program. If a collection program is not available in your area, take the medication out of the original container, mix the medicine with used coffee grounds or cat litter in a sealable plastic bag, and place the bag in a sealed container such as a coffee can or margarine tub. In the case of prescription medication, be sure to mark out any personal information on the pill bottle before depositing it in the trash.

To find a collection program near you try these links: Illinois, Indiana or nationwide.