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Skin Cancer Cream Killed Dogs, FDA Says

A cream used to treat and prevent skin cancer has killed five dogs who accidentally ate some, the FDA says.
Sophia Rogers poses with her dog Bobby, an American Foxhound, during a news conference for the 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York
Dogs can eat tubes of cancer medication and die, the FDA warns.

A cream used to treat and prevent skin cancer has killed five dogs who accidentally ate some, and the Food And Drug Administration is cautioning pet owners to keep it out of reach.

The cream is called fluorouracil and is sold under the brand names Carac, Efudex and Fluoroplex.

“In one case, two dogs began playing with a tube of fluorouracil and one punctured the tube before their owner could retrieve it. Within two hours, the dog that punctured the tube began vomiting, experienced seizures, and died 12 hours later,” the FDA said.

“In a separate case, a dog located his owner’s tube of fluorouracil and ingested its contents. The owner realized the dog had ingested the medication and rushed him to the veterinarian.” The dog got sick anyway and was euthanized, according to the FDA.

“People using this medication should use care when applying and storing the medication if they are also in a household with pets, as even very small amounts could be dangerous to these animals,” the FDA cautioned.

The drug kills fast-growing cells, including some types of skin cancer or pre-cancerous skin growths.

While no cats have been reported injured by fluorouracil, they could also be at risk, the FDA noted.

“If an owner applies fluorouracil cream to an afflicted area and touches their cat, the cat may accidentally ingest the medication when grooming itself and suffer adverse events," it said.

It recommends that all pet owners keep all medications away from where pets can get them. It also advises that owners using cancer medications:

  • Safely discard or clean any cloth or applicator that may retain medication and avoid leaving any residues of the medication on hands, clothing, carpeting or furniture.
  • Consult your health care provider on whether it is appropriate to cover the treated area.
  • If you are using topical medications containing Fluorouracil and your pet becomes exposed, consult a veterinarian immediately.
  • If your pet shows signs such as vomiting, seizing or other illness, seek immediate veterinary care for your pet.