Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs

What is Acetaminophen Toxicity?

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol or Tylenol, is a popular over-the-counter medication used to control pain and fever in people. It can cause toxicity in dogs, which is unfortunately relatively common due to it being a staple in many medicine cabinets. Acetaminophen comes in various forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, and gel caps. It may be the only ingredient in a medication or be part of a multi-symptom product used to treat headaches, colds, and other conditions. 

Low doses of acetaminophen are occasionally recommended by veterinarians but should only be given under their guidance due to the risk of toxicity. All accidental ingestions require immediate veterinary advice. 

Acetaminophen Toxicity Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $150 - $1,700

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs

Within 1 to 4 hours of ingesting acetaminophen, a dog may show signs such as: 

Acetaminophen can cause liver damage, which may be delayed for up to a week. If this happens, a dog may also show the following symptoms: 

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Causes of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs

Acetaminophen is commonly found in households with companion animals. The cause of acetaminophen poisoning in dogs is from the accidental ingestion of acetaminophen, usually from when a dog gets into their human’s medications or when a pet parent tries to treat their dog’s pain at home. Because dogs metabolize drugs differently than humans, even a small piece of a tablet can lead to toxicity, especially with young and small dogs who are at higher risk.

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Diagnosis of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs

Diagnosis is most often made in dogs who have a known or suspected exposure to acetaminophen and are showing signs of illness. It is not common to test for acetaminophen levels in the blood; not only is it usually done at a human hospital or specialized laboratory, but the results may also take a while to come back. Therefore, vets primarily rely on information from the pet parents to diagnose acetaminophen toxicity. 

Be prepared to provide your vet with information such as the amount ingested, the timing of the ingestion, and the type and strength of the medication. Taking the bottle and remaining pills with you can be helpful as well. 

If your dog is showing symptoms of poisoning, your vet may do a physical exam, followed by blood and urine tests to see what may have been ingested. Depending on how serious your dog's condition is, your vet may begin therapy immediately before the cause is known. 

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Treatment of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs

The sooner a dog is decontaminated and treated for acetaminophen poisoning, the better the prognosis.

Detoxification

If a dog was brought to the vet within a few hours of ingesting acetaminophen, the vet may induce vomiting and then administer activated charcoal to prevent further absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. 

Medications

For more severe cases, hospitalization may be needed. N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an antidote for acetaminophen toxicity, will be one of the primary treatments given.

Supportive care

Additionally, the dog may receive fluids intravenously, as well as vitamin C, liver protectants, and other medications to help flush out toxins as well as support the system. Liver supplements can be started. Dogs who suffer from liver damage may require vitamin K, dextrose, and plasma transfusions. Those who develop anemia or methemoglobinemia may need a blood transfusion or oxygen supplementation.

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Worried about the cost of Acetaminophen Toxicity treatment?

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Recovery of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs

Recovery from acetaminophen toxicity depends on various factors, including the dog’s health, how much acetaminophen they ingested, and how soon they received treatment. Some dogs may develop permanent liver damage, but those who receive early treatment are less likely to suffer from any long-term effects. 

It may be necessary to monitor a dog’s liver enzymes for several days to weeks after being sent home. Most dogs will need to continue taking liver protectants for weeks. 

Got more questions about acetaminophen toxicity in dogs? Chat with a vet professional today to learn more about acetaminophen toxicity.

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Cost of Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs

The cost of treating acetaminophen toxicity can vary depending on how serious the condition is. Pet parents can expect to spend $300 to $500 for a vet visit to induce vomiting and $600 to $1,700 for a short hospitalization.

Got more questions about acetaminophen toxicity in dogs? Chat with a vet professional today to learn more about acetaminophen toxicity.
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Acetaminophen Toxicity Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $150 - $1,700

Average Cost

$500

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Acetaminophen Toxicity Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Australian Shepherd

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Five Years

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8 found helpful

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8 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Exhausted

I gave my dog about an 8th of an expired Tylenol while we were backpacking a few days ago. He seems fine but super tired. I’m worried but trying to stay calm. He is acting normal. Eats treats, eats his food and was playing frisbee with me last night. I’m just worried it may need to be checked out. He made it back the whole 8 miles and truly jsit seems tired like he usually is after these trips. I don’t want anything to happen in the future for him though because of my poor decision. Any advice would be great! Thank you so much.

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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8 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That seems to be a very small amount of Tylenol, but Tylenol can be toxic to dogs at low levels. I would be concerned about his kidney function if he seems lethargic, and sometimes it can be hard to tell if he is tired or lethargic. If you want to be very careful, it would be best to have him seen by your veterinarian, and have a blood panel run to make sure that his kidney function is okay. They may be able to give you some medication for him for the future, in case you need it for him for pain. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 4, 2020

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Gracie

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American Staffordshire Terrier

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14 Years

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7 found helpful

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7 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Weakness Confusion
Vomiting
Bloody Diarrhea

You may find this hard to believe, I did. My dog was intentionally poisoned! I took my 14 year old,60 pound AmStaff Terrier to the vet for evaluation for surgery on a rectal growth. I was told that it was Apocrine gland carcinoma, and inoperable. She had been having some difficulty starting to deficate, and I thought she might have an easier time if she had something for pain. I was already using flax seed meal which did a good job as a natural stool softener. I should mention that she's on an Ace inhibitor for heart failure, so Menoxidyl is contraindicated, as well as coated asprin. To my surprise my vet prescribed 200 mg. of Tylenol every 12 hours. I questioned him, as everything I had read said that Tylenol and generic equivalents should not be given to dogs because of their high toxicity. He told me that was only in large amounts,or over long periods of time. After the second dose, she became very ill, with vomiting and bloody diarrhea. She became so weak I needed help to get her back to my apartment! I stopped all solids, allowing her water. She climbed into bed next to me, and fell asleep. I wasn't sure if she would wake up! She slept for 24 hours, without any more diarrhea, so I gave her white rice and pumpkin. Then the vomiting and diarrhea started again, so back your clear liquids. It's been a week; she's been on white rice,chicken broth and chicken.She hasn't had a stool for 24 hours, but she just started eating again on Wednesday, so we'll see. I am so angry that someone who is suppose to be so knowledgeable, would prescribe something that carried such a high risk of devastating adverse effects to my sweet, beautiful,gentle companion who was my faithful service dog for 8 years. She was a rescue from an abusive situation, when I got her, and just wanted to please, and gave love, unconditionally! I just wanted give her the best quality of life that I can, in the short time she has left. I wish I had listened to my gut, and not given her the tylenol! Do not, ever, give your dog tylenol, no matter how educated you think your vet is; if you do you are playing with your dog's life, and future health. This incident could have shortened whatever time mt sweet Gracie has left!

Aug. 30, 2018

Gracie's Owner

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Acetaminophen Toxicity Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $150 - $1,700

Average Cost

$500

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