Pseudoephedrine is harmful to animals upon ingestion, reports the American Veterinary Medical Association. Studies show that animals have a very narrow margin of safety with the drug, and as little as one pill is life-threatening to smaller animals. It is important for owners to seek immediate veterinary care for animals exposed to pseudoephedrine.
The commercially available pseudoephedrine used in decongestants is typically manufactured via yeast fermentation of dextrose, reports ScienceDirect. However, pseudoephedrine is also chemical compound found in a plant in the ephedra family, Ephedra sinica, states the Center for Substance Abuse Research.
Cattle that ingest similar plants in the ephedra family show signs of bloating, vomiting, diarrhea and a lack of appetite, reports the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. While none of the cattle died, even plants in the same family proved to be toxic.
Overdoses of pseudoephedrine and similar drugs cause an increased heart rate, agitation, tremors and death, states Merck Manuals. In order to treat overdoses, the drug is removed from the body, and the exposed animal is treated with nervous system and cardiovascular system support. The signs of an overdose last anywhere from one to four days, requiring an animal to be hospitalized.
Keep pseudoephedrine and related drugs out of an animal's environment, advises the American Veterinary Medical Association. Prevention of exposure is important to reduce the risk of accidental ingestion.