Human Medicine for Dogs:  Which ones are Safe?

Human Medicine for Dogs     by Janice Jones     |Last Updated 06-12-2020

It is not surprising that pet owners what to use human medicine for dogs if they can.  Not all human medicine can be given to dogs, and some can be fatal such as Tylenol, so knowing what you can and cannot give is very important.

A Shih Tzu is lying on his back with paws in the air.Human Medicine for Dogs

Can dogs take human medication and vice-versa? 

That is a tricky answer because there are many factors that go into the manufacture of human and animal medications.  There are some safe over-the-counter medicines that you can use in your dog.

This list contains drugs that you might have around the home that can safely be given to a dog.  If you do not know what is causing the symptoms your dog is experiencing, it is better to call the vet. 

To be completely safe, and put your mind at ease, it is much better to consult your veterinarian prior to administering any medication.

Human Medicine for Dogs List

Human medicine appropriate for dogs

The following alphabetized human medicine for dogs list includes people medicines that you can use safely on your dog.  This list should not be used as a substitute for good veterinary care and if ever in doubt, please contact your vet for further instructions.


You might not think that an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin® could be used on a dog, but it is helpful in the treatment of small wounds, bites or minor infections.  All generic versions of the drug are also human medicines for dogs and can save you some money if your little one is suffering from a small lesion.  Before applying any ointment, be sure the wound is cleaned with soap and water.  Remove any hair possible. Dogs should not lick the ointment. 

2. Artificial Tears

Dry eyes are very common in Shih Tzu dogs and you may need to administer artificial tears to help them feel better. There are a number of reasons why a dog might have dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca).  Typical signs you may notice include blinking excessive, pain and sensitivity, and thick mucous discharge that often hardens if not removed.  Before using artificial tears, you will want to have your vet check out the eyes to rule out other problems.  Your vet may recommend antibiotics, or other eye medicines in addition to the artificial tears you can purchase over the counter.


Good old Aspirin, once the only pain reliever available, can be given to dogs for short term use, but never cats, to relieve inflammation and pain.  Buffered Aspirin is calmer on the stomach, but regular (non-coated) aspirin can also be used as a human medicine for dogs.  You can give your dog an Aspirin once or twice a day.  Always give aspirin with food.  For small dogs, Baby aspirin is the easiest to administer.  Do not give Tylenol or Advil.


Less than 10 lbs. ½ baby aspirin

10-30 lbs. 1 baby aspirin 30-50 lbs. ½ regular aspirin

4. BENADRYL (Diphenhydramine):

Benadryl is an antihistamine that will help reduce inflammation and itchiness from allergic reactions and is sometimes used to treat allergies on a long term basis. 

The dose is one milligram/per pound and can be given twice daily.  Diphenydramine is the active ingredient in this human medicine for dogs and should be fine as long as it is the only ingredient.  Since Benadryl comes in different strengths it is better to use the dosage above 1mg/lb. rather than the one below.  For small dogs, the pediatric strength is the only one you want to use.  The basic dose is 1 mg. Benadryl per 1 pound body weight.  So that a 6 pound dog should receive 6 mgs. 


Dogs 12 lbs and less:  . 12 milligrams (pediatric dose)

25 lbs. 25 milligrams(1 adult capsule)

5. DRAMAMINE (Dimenhydrinate):

Dramamine is an antihistamine that helps relieve the symptoms associated with motion sickness in both dogs. Dogs that travel, especially in cars can benefit from a small dosage of this human medicine for dogs.  Car trips can be stressful for both you and your dog so plan ahead.  Plan to give Dramamine about a half hour prior to your departure time for best results. 

6. GAS-X (Simethicone):

Simethicone can also be used in dogs to help with the symptoms of gas or gas distress that your dog may be experiencing. Human medicines for dogs that contain Simethicone are safe and will make your pooch more comfortable if excessive gas is a problem. 


small ¼ adult dose 

medium ½ adult dose

large 1 adult dose


Glucosamine is used to treat joint pain associated with arthritis. You will not notice any immediate effects when administering this drug.  Veterinarians often prescribe a variety of medications to treat the pain and inflammation associated with injury, arthritis, or other conditions such as hip or elbow displasia. This is a human medication for dogs that may be recommended by your vet and he/she will give you the exact dosage to follow.

Glucosamine Dosage
under 25 lbs. 500 milligrams

25-50 lbs. 1000 milligrams over

50 lbs. 1500 milligrams

Glucosamine is also sold for dogs and it might be easier to purchase a product specifically for dogs.  Many of them come as chewable tablets that are tasty for dogs. 


Hydrocortisone cream can help to relieve itchy, raw or irritated skin on your dog, just as it does on you. It can be applied topically to reduce itching insect bites and stings. It is also helpful on hot spots. Apply and massage in thoroughly.  You can do this up to twice daily.


Hydrogen peroxide is helpful when cleaning scrapes and scratches or to induce vomiting in dogs.  For this reason, it is a god idea to keep some on hand.  Hydrogen peroxide is also great for cleaning off blood stains whether on your own clothing or your dog's hair.  You should never try to induce vomiting unless under the care of a veterinarian.  Call the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435, if you think that your dog may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance.  They will provide precise instructions for you to take.

10. IMODIUM (loperamide):

Anti-diarrhea drugs that contain loperamide, such as Imodium, can be used for canine diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease. Some dog breeds related to Collies may have adverse reactions to Imodium so do not give this medicine to Shelties, Australian Shepards, Collies, or Long-haired Whippits.

For all those dogs that can use this medicine, the dosage is 1 teaspoon for every 20 pounds.   This dosage can be repeated every four to six hours until symptoms begin to resolve, not to exceed 24 hours.


Kaolin/Pectin Kaopectate, which is a mixture of Kaolin and Pectin, can be used to treat dogs. This is a very common human medicine for dogs and a small bottle is an economical solution to diarrhea in dogs from changes in diets or stomach upset. The usual dosage is one millilitre (ml) per pound every 4 hours.  For diarrhea that lasts more than a day, it is advisable to call your vet.  Diarrhea in dogs can occur for a number of reasons, including parasites  and it's best to get to the bottom of the problem rather than just trying to treat the symptoms.

12. Mineral Oil

It's not a bad idea to keep a bottle of mineral oil in your first aid kit to be used as needed.  A drop or two can be placed in your dog's eyes to help protect the eyes from soap.  Mineral oil is also good to treat constipation.  If your Shih Tzu has not had a bowl movement, try about 1 tsp. per 10 pounds of body weight until your dog can pass feces normally.  If you suspect a blockage, call your vet.  Mineral oil will work for minor constipation but not if your dog has eaten something that is causing a blockage in the intestines.   


Saline nasal spray and pediatric nasal sprays (Little Noses) can be given in kittens, cats, puppies, and dogs to alleviate dryness and nasal congestion associated with a cold.  No other type of OTC nasal medication should be used unless prescribed by your veterinarian.


Pedialyte, an electrolyte solution typically given to human infants can be used in dogs with tummy problems.   The Doggie dosage is 1/8 of a cup for a 20 pound dog.  You can mix a small amount honey, something that most dogs love, into the solution to improve the taste. 


You can be administered Pepto-Bismol® to a dog, but not cats that have an upset stomach and are vomiting.   Give one teaspoon per 20 pounds of weight every 4-6 hours for 24 hours or until symptoms begin to resolve. Remember, sometimes vomiting is a way to rid the body of something that it was not supposed to have. 

It is healthy and perfectly acceptable for dogs to eat grass, especially when their stomach is uneasy. Eating grass is a dog’s natural way of cleaning out their systems.  Eating grass usually makes the dog vomit, which will remove whatever is not supposed to be in their stomach.  For dogs with stomach upset, sometimes the best medicine is to cook up some boiled rice and add it to lean hamburger or chicken meat and feed for the next day or so until symptoms subside.

This short list of human medicine for dogs include those that are know to be safe.  There are probably other medications that can be used in canines, but before any are used in your little fur baby, it is best to seek veterinary assistance.

Last Words about Human Medicine for Dogs

This list of medications can be given to your dog safely, but it is always a good idea to check with your veterinarian before administering anything new to your Shih Tzu.  There may be an underlying problem that requires more than a quick fix from an over-the-counter drug.  

Always remember that when in doubt about pain, give Aspirin, and not other forms of pain medications such as Tylenol.

About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and Smart-Knit-Crocheting.