As a pet owner, it isn’t uncommon to have a cupboard shelf dedicated to your pet’s health and wellbeing. Clients often joke that there is an entire pharmacy for their pet. So what happens if some of these medications go unused, or they are past their expiry dates? Can they be given to animals in need? 

Whilst this suggestion has the best intentions, unfortunately not. It is illegal for medications to be resupplied once they have been dispensed, even if they are within their use-by-dates. For medications that have expired, the main issue is that they lose their effectiveness over a period of time. This can be harmful for the patient. Simply because in many cases, medication is a life-saving treatment, and they are not getting the treatment they need. In cases of antibiotics, it has a worldwide public health concern, as treatment with sub-potent antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance and more severe illness.  

Certain medications can also change in chemical composition and can be at risk of bacterial growth. There are also some drugs (like oxytetracycline) which are known to decay into harmful or toxic byproducts outside of their shelf-life. Once they have passed their expiration date, there is simply no guarantee of their safety, as well as their effectiveness. 

How can you safely dispose of expired medicine products? 

The best answer is to return it to your vet where they may be able to dispose of it in their pharmaceutical or hazardous waste. Always follow the advice on the label regarding disposal. Do not pour medicines down the drain or toilet unless advised to do so. As this is harmful to the environment, and ends up in our water supplies. 

If you are instructed to dispose of the medications in the bin, then ensure that you place the medication in a leak proof container and add a safe but unpalatable substance to the medication, such as cat litter or coffee grounds. This will make it less appealing to any children, pets or wildlife that could potentially have access to the rubbish. Also ensure that the label on your medication has been removed or blackened out to protect your identity. 

What are some other ways that you can give to animal charities? 

Financial donations make a significant difference for animal charities. Donating to them over the Christmas period as a once-off gift, or setting up a recurring monthly payment goes extremely far in providing care to animals in need. Organising a fundraiser to raise money for a charity is also a fantastic way to raise awareness as well as make a contribution to the cause. 

However, it isn’t just money that you can donate. Animal shelters especially are always in need of other supplies, such as bedding and towels. If you have anything that you are not using for your pet, such as their beds, toys, crates, carriers and food, this can be of immense help to charities that need these exact things to house the animals comfortably. 

And one thing that you can always offer is your time. See if any of these charities need your help, especially over the busy Christmas period. This can range from assisting with cleaning, walking, feeding, to helping with social media campaigns and managing websites. You can always ask around and see where your input could be of value, as time is always our greatest commodity. 

You might also be interested in: