Opioids and Animals

Published on: 

FDA published a resource guide to promote responsible opioid prescribing in the treatment of animals.

On August 15, 2018, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, released a statement expressing the importance of including pain management in animals in the conversation about opioid abuse. Because of a lack of opioids approved by FDA for use in animals, some veterinarians are prescribing opioids to animals that are approved for human use, according to Gottlieb.  As part of the agency’s battle against the opioid epidemic, FDA has published a resource for veterinarians to inform them of the potential for humans to misuse products prescribed for animal patients.

The new resource provides information on how to properly safeguard and store these pain medications and how to educate pet parents about the safe storage and disposal of opioids. To combat potential abuse, FDA is “advising veterinarians to develop a safety plan in the event they encounter a situation involving opioid diversion or clients seeking opioids under the guise of treating their pets; and taking steps to help veterinarians spot the signs of opioid abuse.”

“We recognize that opioids and other pain medications have a legitimate and important role in treating pain in animals-just as they do for people. But just like the opioid medications used in humans, these drugs have potentially serious risks, not just for the animal patients, but also because of their potential to lead to addiction, abuse, and overdose in humans who may divert them for their own use,” Gottlieb stated.

FDA is recommending veterinarians use alternatives to opioids, if possible. If veterinarians, however, feel the need to prescribe opioids, FDA recommends they follow all state and federal regulations as well as standards set by the American Veterinary Medical Association.


“Working together, I believe that we can make progress in preventing new cases of addiction while ensuring appropriate and rational prescribing of opioids for human and animal patients with medical need,” Gottlieb stated.

Source: FDA