Can dogs be given Tylenol?

April 13, 2012

Tylenol is a widely accepted painkiller. In spite of the 1982 Tylenol murders that caused the medication’s market share to plummet from 35% to 8%, Tylenol is one of the mainstays in every household’s medicine kit. Presently, Tylenol has gained the top slot on the list of most popular analgesics in United States. Tylenol is a brand name of the generic acetaminophen (in US) and paracetamol (in UK and in other countries). Tylenol belongs to the analgesic group. This means that this formulation is used to alleviate fever and to provide relief from pain associated with various medical concerns. Acetaminophen was approved safe for humans. The drug is different from other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as it has no swelling reduction properties. Nevertheless, it is used to relieve pain associated with arthritis. Arthritis is an ailment not exclusive to humans. Man’s best friend suffers from the aches and pains of this disorder too. As Tylenol was proven to be an effective pain killer, a dog owner would customarily grab a pill and pop it to the pet’s mouth. Is it safe to give the dog medications specifically formulated for humans? Tylenol is fatal to cats but in correct dosage, it can be given to dogs.

Tylenol can be obtained without prescription. The drug alleviates fever and provides pain relief. Chronic pain sufferers who are habitual Tylenol poppers are warned of the side effects of the drug. In dogs, the drug is said to be safer as compared to aspirin and ibuprofen. However, there is a very big BUT in administering this medication. Tylenol must be given to the pet only when prescribed and under the supervision of a veterinarian. Of course there are times when a dog owner has no choice but to give the dog human medication. A dog owner would do everything to help the pet, to alleviate pain as it would be heartbreaking to see the pet suffer. Tylenol may be prescribed by a vet for dog suffering from chronic pain associated with arthritis. This pain relief is administered in dogs that have undergone a medical procedure like spaying or castration.

Tylenol, with acetaminophen as the main ingredient, can have serious side effects on the health of the dog when taken in excessive doses. Tylenol is available in liquid suspension, chewable tablets, gel capsules and coated caplets. This drug is commonly supplied in 325 mg or 500 mg size. A 5 to 10 mg per pound of body weight can be given to the dog 2 to 3 times a day. A dog owner must be extra careful so as not to exceed the dosage safe for the pet. This drug should not be given to dogs receiving other medications as Tylenol can interact with another drug and cause adverse effects. The range of the drug’s adverse effects is not fully known given that Tylenol was specifically formulated for humans. However, prolonged use of the drug has resulted to gastrointestinal tract irritation, liver damage and kidney damage. Additionally, acetaminophen can damage the red blood cells (hemolysis).

Dogs have the tendency to chew and to swallow anything they find interesting. Having a dog is not unlike having a small child in the family. Medicines should be kept out of reach of children and dogs. Depending on the amount of Tylenol ingested, the dog would manifest the toxicity symptoms slowly or quickly. Vomiting, drooling and breathing difficulties will be noticed. The gums will turn either brown or blue, weakness and uncoordinated movements will be noticed as well. The dog must be rushed to a veterinary facility. Oftentimes immediate treatment that includes oxygen support and intravenous fluid administration can save the life of the pet.

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