What is Acetaminophen Toxicity?
Tylenol (acetaminophen) is a common over-the-counter anti-fever and pain medication used by humans. Unfortunately due its popularity in our medicine cabinets, it can accidentally ingested by our pets, or given to them by well-meaning owners that assume it is a safe pain medication. Small doses of the medication can cause major, even fatal, damage to dogs.While Tylenol remains a popular medication for many human ailments, it is extremely toxic to dogs. Any dog known or suspected of ingesting a pill must be given treatment immediately to prevent permanent liver damage.
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Symptoms of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs
Tylenol poisoning warning signs typically resemble abdominal distress because the medicine is quickly absorbed into the stomach. Symptoms include:
- Rapid breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive drooling
- Swelling of face/paws
- Difficulty breathing
- Dark colored gums
- Anorexia/refusing to eat
- Black colored stool
Causes of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs
While Tylenol is safe for human use, it is absolutely toxic and should never be given to pets. Often, the animal ingests the medicine accidentally or it is given it by its owner who was unaware that it is dangerous for dogs. Tylenol is quickly absorbed in the dog’s stomach and causes damage with the animal’s liver. The metabolism is unable to destroy the toxins, slowly leading to liver failure. Tylenol can also cause a fatal collapse of pet’s cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, nervous system, respiratory or kidney systems. If left untreated, ingestion of Tylenol is typically fatal.
Diagnosis of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs
Diagnosis is most often made after the dog’s owner sees that the pill has been eaten by their pet, or recognizes symptoms consistent with poisoning. If you suspect that your dog has ingested Tylenol, contact your veterinarian immediately. While this is an emergency, remain calm and make sure to accurately describe the symptoms that your pet is showing to the veterinarian, along with how much Tylenol they ingested (if known).
Treatment of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs
Veterinarians will primarily do blood work to test how much liver damage has been occurred. Following those tests, treatment for Tylenol poisoning consists of decontamination, intravenous fluid therapy, and antioxidants/liver protectants, to prevent liver failure.
Recovery of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs
Recovery from Tylenol poisoning is dependent on many factors. The amount of the medicine ingested plays a large role, along with the current health status of the dog. It’s also vital that owners get their pet to the veterinarian as fast as possible for treatment. While Tylenol poisoning is a very serious emergency situation, recovery is possible. Blood work will likely continue to be monitored, and the pet may need to stay overnight for observation. Additional precautions will need to be made in the home environment to ensure that the dog will not be able to ingest Tylenol again.