Kaopectate reformulation poses danger to cats

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An over-the-counter diarrhea treatment for humans now contains an aspirin derivative that in high doses is toxic to cats, reports the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

An over-the-counter diarrhea treatment for humans now contains an aspirin derivative that in high doses is toxic to cats, reports the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Kaopectate's new formula contains bismuth subsalicylate, which may cause salicylate toxicosis in cats that are overdosed, AVMA says. The product, manufactured by Pfizer, formerly contained attapulgite, an inert clay aluminum.

Veterinarians have recommended Kaopectate off-label to treat diarrhea in cats and dogs, particularly for clients who are unable or unwilling to seek immediate veterinary care, AVMA officials say.

The range of recommended aspirin-derivative dosages that have been published for cats is 10 mg/kg every other day to 25 mg/kg every day, officials add. A tablespoon of reformulated Kaopectate contains 130 mg aspirin equivalent, and extra-strength Kaopectate contains approximately 230 mg aspirin equivalent. A tablespoon of extra-strength Kaopectate given to a 5-pound cat would yield approximately 100 mg/kg aspirin equivalent and would likely result in toxicosis, says Dr. Steve Hansen, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology and director of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Animal Poison Control Center.

Salicylates (e.g. aspirin, Pepto-Bismol and now Kaopectate) should only be administered to cats under veterinary supervision. Some dogs are also sensitive to salicylates.

For more information on managing poisons and poison prevention, visit the ASPCA's Poison Control Center Web site, www.apcc.aspca.org.

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