The FDA has received reports of dogs dying after they were exposed to a type of medicated cream called fluorouracil.
If your medication contains fluorouracil, you should move it somewhere out of reach of your pets and make sure your pets do not lick your skin where you’ve applied the medicine. If ingested, fluorouracil can be deadly to pets.
What is fluorouracil?
Fluorouracil is a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat a wide variety of cancers in people, including some types of skin cancers and a condition called solar or actinic keratosis, which can lead to skin cancer.
It’s also used to treat warts in children and occasionally in veterinary medicine to treat cancers in horses. It’s available as a solution for injection or as a topical cream or solution applied to the skin.
The containers may include the brand names Efudex, Carac, Tolak, and Fluoroplex or just say“Fluorouracil.”
How are pets exposed?
Pets can be exposed by chewing on containers, usually tubes of topical fluorouracil, or by licking the area of skin where the medication has been applied.
Are other pets in danger?
The FDA Has not received any reports of fluorouracil poisoning in cats or other pets, but is recommending people keep it away from all pets to be safe.
What are symptoms of fluorouracil poisoning?
Symptoms usually start within 30 minutes and include vomiting, shaking, seizures, difficulty breathing and diarrhea.
Your pet can die in as little as 6 to 12 hours after being exposed to fluorouracil. If your pet is exposed, seek immediate veterinary care and bring the container of fluorouracil with you.
What is the FDA doing?
The FDA is asking makers of fluorouracil topical products to add new wording to the product labels that warn users about the danger to pets.
The FDA provided an example of potential wording, “May be fatal if your pet licks or ingests. Avoid allowing pets to contact this tube or your skin where fluorouracil has been applied. Store and dispose out of reach of pets.”
What can you do to keep your pet safe?
If your pet has licked the area where you applied fluorouracil or chews the container you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Otherwise, be sure to keep all products containing fluorouracil out of reach of your pets. The FDA suggested the following steps:
- Store the container in a closed cabinet or on a shelf the animal cannot reach.
- Dispose of empty containers in areas that are inaccessible to your pet.
- Talk to your health care provider about whether you should cover the treated area with clothing or gauze to prevent your pet from licking your skin.
Report a problem to the FDA
If your pet has a problem with fluorouracil or any other human or animal drug, you can report it to FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.