If your dog is injured or hurt, you might be wondering what you can give dogs for pain relief. Oftentimes, you might wonder if Tylenol is safe for dogs and whether you can give a dog Tylenol or acetaminophen (Tylenol’s active ingredient)?
Tylenol for dogs or puppies isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, but you can’t just give them an entire pill. Tylenol dosage for dogs is much lower than humans and, in some cases, vets don’t recommend the medication at all. Let’s take a look at the effects of Tylenol on dogs, whether or not you should give it to your dogs for pain relief, and how much you might give!
What Is Tylenol?
Tylenol, also known as acetaminophen, is a common OTC medication that is used for pain relief and reducing fevers. This is a paracetamol, and it is also available in generic versions in most pharmacies. If you ask the pharmacist, you can also get it with codeine and caffeine added for even more pain relief.
Tylenol is an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that is commonly taken to treat muscle pain and stiffness from arthritis, pain from injuries, and fevers. But, is it safe to give it to your dog?
Is Tylenol Safe For Dogs?
The short answer to this question is yes. But, this doesn’t mean that you can give your dog the same dosage that you would take. You need to keep in mind that too much of this drug, even baby Tylenol, can be toxic to dogs. But, as long as your veterinarian says it is okay, you can give your dog Tylenol in recommended doses.
In fact, some vets do regularly prescribe this OTC drug, or other medications that contain acetaminophen and narcotics (e.g. Vicodin). These prescriptions are often used to treat dogs with chronic pain caused by kidney problems.
The problem with dogs and Tylenol is that they are not able to metabolize it in the same way that we do. But, it is also safer than other OTC medications you could be giving to your dogs, as long as you use very small dosages that are recommended by your veterinarian. If dogs are given too much Tylenol, it can lead to a condition known as Tylenol toxicity.
What Is Tylenol Toxicity?
When dogs overdose on Tylenol, they can end up with something known as Tylenol toxicity. This is not likely to happen if you are giving your dog Tylenol at recommended dosages, but should a dog get into a bottle of the pills by mistake, it can turn into a pretty serious situation very quickly. Tylenol toxicity can cause a number of health issues, including:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Swelling of the face and paws
- Weakness in the body
- Excessive drooling
In very extreme cases, Tylenol toxicity can cause anorexia, anemia, a blood disorder known as methemoglobinemia, kidney problems, liver failure, and even death. Too much Tylenol can cause damage to the red blood cells, changing the hemoglobin into a molecule that causes the blood to be unable to carry oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. When the hemoglobin is altered like this, it is known as methemoglobin, and the color of the blood turns from red to brown.
If you think that your dog may have ingested too much Tylenol, look for the following symptoms:
- Decreased appetite
- Breathing difficulties or rapid breathing
- Stomach pain
- Discolored urine (brown)
- Discolored gums (brown or blue)
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your vet immediately. They will do diagnostic testing, including a blood cell count, to see just how much damage has been done by the drug, and then determine a course of treatment.
Treatment For Tylenol Toxicity
Treatment for Tylenol toxicity can involve pumping out a dog’s stomach, which will also involve anesthetization. Another treatment could be to give the dog a liquid that is made with activated charcoal. This is going to help to slow the absorption in the stomach and intestines of the Tylenol. There is also a medication called N-acetylcysteine, which keeps toxic substances from damaging the red blood cells and liver.
In extreme cases, other treatments such blood transfusions and IV fluid therapy are used. This is a condition that must be diagnosed and treated immediately to ensure a complete recovery, as Tylenol toxicity can be fatal.
How Much Tylenol Can I Give My Dog?
After reading all of this information, you are likely terrified at the thought of giving Tylenol to your dog. Just remember, it is okay to treat pain and fever in dogs with this medication, as long as you are doing it per your veterinarian’s recommendations. Never exceed the dosage that your vet prescribes, and watch for any and all signs of Tylenol toxicity. If you notice that your dog is displaying symptoms of Tylenol toxicity, contact your vet immediately.
On a side note, even though this article is about dogs, many of us dog owners also love our cats. Tylenol is even more toxic to cats than it is to dogs. Never, under any circumstances, give Tylenol to your cats, even if it is just a half of a children’s Tylenol chewable tablet. While it has been recommended by vets in the past, experts now know that it is dangerous to give this medication to cats, in any dosage.
Yes, You Can Give Your Dog Tylenol
If you notice that your dog is displaying symptoms of pain from arthritis or injuries, it is best to contact your veterinarian before beginning any course of treatment. Your vet may indeed recommend a low dosage of Tylenol, but this should only be given on their specific advice. Never exceed the recommended dosage, and contact your vet immediately if you notice any signs of Tylenol toxicity.