"I understand that people care about their pets and want to be proactive, but you might do more harm than good," says Kent.
He explains that potassium iodide should be only be taken once dangerous levels of radioactivity are detected; it's not a preventative. It may also be effective if taken after radiation exposure. However, with no impending need, the pills might be taken for far longer than necessary (if, indeed, they're ever required), increasing the risk of adverse reactions.
Like most doctors, when it comes to medication, Kent talks about risks vs. benefits. At the moment, there's no benefit for pets to take potassium iodide, and there is a risk, albeit unlikely, of a poor reaction.
"There may be gastrointestinal upset, may cause a cat to not eat (which could cause a potentially fatal liver disease) and may cause hypothyroid in dogs, or even potentially death, especially if the wrong dosage is given," says Kent. "And in cats, we're not positive about the dosage."
What's more, potassium iodide only helps pets (or people) to deal with radioactive particles that ultimately impact the thyroid gland, not other organs or illnesses that may result from excessive exposure to radiation.
If you're determined to purchase potassium iodide, buyer beware (since many legitimate outlets are sold out), particularly if you purchase the product online.
Q: I'm a reliable pet owner. I do use a heartworm preventative religiously when there are mosquitoes, but why do I need to test our dogs for the disease? It's not cheap to test three dogs and we're not wealthy. It seems like this is a test we could skip. Our veterinarian has not offered good enough reasoning to convince me. — B.H., Cyberspace