Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is a common over-the-counter medication used by humans to relieve pain and fever. You may be tempted to give your dog acetaminophen for pain since it’s available over-the-counter. However, this drug can be toxic to dogs. You should never give your dog acetaminophen. If you suspect your dog needs pain relief or has a fever, seek veterinary care for your dog.
Acetaminophen is a nonprescription medication that relieves mild to moderate pain and reduces fever. The exact mechanism of action is not known, but the drug has been a popular, effective pain reliever and fever reducer for human use since the 1950s. Acetaminophen is not available in veterinary preparations and is not a preferred form of pain relief in dogs.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not an NSAID, but it is still just as dangerous for dogs. No one is exactly sure how it works to reduce pain and fever; it has no effect on inflammation. But when dogs ingest toxic amounts of acetaminophen, it destroys their liver cells, damages the kidneys and converts hemoglobin the oxygen-carrying molecule in blood—to methemoglobin, resulting in poor oxygen delivery throughout the body and widespread tissue damage. If you have a multi-pet household, you should also know that cats are so sensitive to the adverse effects of acetaminophen that ingesting just one regular-strength tablet can result in severe toxicosis, and two tablets can be fatal.
Features of Tylenol For Dogs
Acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Paracetamol, APAP, N-acetyl-p-aminophenol) is a medication used for pain relief and fever reduction in people. It is a popular over-the-counter oral medication and is also available by prescription. Acetaminophen may be the only ingredient in a medication or be part of a combination product containing other medications. These medications may include aspirin, opioids, antihistamines, decongestants, and caffeine. Typical uses include the treatment of headaches, pain, colds, flu, and menstrual discomfort.
Acetaminophen is available in many forms including tablets, capsules, gel caps, melt away tablets, rectal suppositories, and liquids. Acetaminophen is often found in homes with pets. Poisoning may happen when pets get into the owner’s medications. In some cases, owners may administer acetaminophen to treat their pet’s pain at unsafe doses. Low doses of acetaminophen may be recommended in dogs for certain indications and should only be given under the direction of a veterinarian.
Uses of Acetaminophen for Dogs
- The primary use of Tylenol for dogs is for pain. However, there are safer and more effective alternatives for controlling fever and pain. Therefore, acetaminophen is not used often in canines. Learn more aboutpain in dogs.
- Formulas with codeine, tramadol, or hydrocodone can be used in cases of severe, usually postoperative, pain.
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when recommended by a veterinarian, care must be taken when this drug is given to dogs. Excessive amounts of acetaminophen can be toxic. Acetaminophen should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
- Acetaminophen may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with acetaminophen. Such drugs include doxorubicin, barbiturates, fenbendazole, isoniazid, phenothiazines, foods or medications containing propylene glycol, warfarin, and certain anesthetics.
- Since acetaminophen is not commonly used in animals, there is limited adverse effect information. Damage to kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract can occur.
Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs
Acetaminophen is generally considered toxic to dogs at doses of around 100-150 mg per kilogram (45-68 mg per pound).1 However, some dogs are more sensitive and will experience toxic effects at lower doses. In addition, frequent ingestion of acetaminophen may make dogs more susceptible to toxicity.
Acetaminophen toxicity causes damage to the liver. It may damage the kidneys as well.1 This damage creates many serious complications in the body and may lead to death.
Signs of acetaminophen toxicity typically appear around one to four hours after ingestion and tend to get gradually worse if untreated.2
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive salivation
- Brownish colored mucous membranes
- Blue-gray colored mucous membranes (cyanosis)
- Rapid or labored breathing
- Dark-colored urine (may appear brown or reddish-brown)
- Swelling of the face and/or extremities
- Sudden death
Prices of Tylenol For Dogs
$11.00 – $57.97