The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners, veterinarians, healthcare providers and pharmacists that pets are at risk of illness and death when exposed to the topical cancer medication Fluorouracil Cream USP 5% (5-FU.) intended for use in people. Fluorouracil may also be marketed under the brand names Carac, Effudex (its name in Canada) and Fluoroplex. 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 announced in January, 2017 that it received reports of five dogs that became ill and died after accidentally ingesting the topical cream. 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. 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 veterinarian attempted treatment, but the dog’s condition declined over three days and he was ultimately euthanized.
Although the FDA has not to date received any reports involving cats, they are also expected to be extremely sensitive to Fluorouracil cream. 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.