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What is Paracetamol Poisoning?

Paracetamol is not licensed for use in dogs, it is commonly prescribed by veterinarians as an over the counter pain reliever. Accidental poisoning can also occur if your dog gets into a bottle of acetaminophen and ingests several pills. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from paracetamol poisoning, you should seek veterinary attention immediately.

Paracetamol poisoning can occur from acetaminophen, which is a common pain reliever that many dog owners will give to their dog. Some dogs are predisposed to be drug sensitive and will have a reaction paracetamol.  Dogs that are suffering from paracetamol poisoning will likely be treated with acetylcysteine. In dogs, paracetamol poisoning can occur if they ingest 75 mg per kilogram of body weight. Kidney and liver failure can occur from paracetamol poisoning.

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Symptoms of Paracetamol Poisoning in Dogs

Paracetamol poisoning in dogs can be very serious, many times causing your dog to go into kidney or liver failure. If you think that your dog has ingested a large quantity of paracetamol, you will need to seek emergency veterinary care. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Labored breathing
  • Swollen face or neck
  • Swelling of the limbs
  • Brownish-gray gums
  • Hypothermia
  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting
  • Coma
  • Death

Causes of Paracetamol Poisoning in Dogs

For humans, paracetamol, otherwise known as acetaminophen is usually safe to use as a pain reliever. However, for dogs, paracetamol can be deadly when ingested. Toy breed dogs seem to be more susceptible to paracetamol poisoning simply because they are smaller and it takes a smaller dose of paracetamol to cause toxicity. 

Red blood cell abnormalities can occur as well as kidney and/or liver damage. In most cases, kidney and liver damage is not reversible. Ingestion of large doses of paracetamol can also cause coma or death. Quick treatments are essential for your dog’s full recovery without permanent damage to the liver or kidneys.

Diagnosis of Paracetamol Poisoning in Dogs

Your veterinarian will begin by taking your dog’s medical history. This is important, especially if you have had to take your dog to an emergency clinic where the attending veterinarian does not know your dog’s history. If you gave your dog acetaminophen, or paracetamol, be sure to relay to your veterinarian the amount that was given and the time it was given. If you did not give your dog paracetamol but suspect that your dog has gotten into Tylenol or some other acetaminophen, you should let your veterinarian know.

Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination and then order a biochemistry panel, complete blood count, urinalysis and fecal examination. These diagnostic tests will help determine the level of toxicity that is currently in your dog’s body. Your dog’s liver and kidney function will also need to be closely monitored to watch for any changes that may mean their liver or kidneys are damaged and failing. 

Once your veterinarian has diagnosed paracetamol poisoning in your dog, they will discuss treatment options with you.

Treatment of Paracetamol Poisoning in Dogs

Your dog may require hospitalization and supportive care while undergoing treatments for paracetamol poisoning. Supportive care will likely include supplemental oxygen, intravenous fluid therapy, vitamin C supplementation, cimetidine and N-acetylcysteine. Cysteine is an amino acid that aids in repairing potential damage that has been done to the liver. Other liver protectants include milk thistle and S-Adenosyl-methionine or SAMe. 

The first step in treating paracetamol poisoning in dogs is decontamination, then your veterinarian will do baseline blood work to monitor your dog’s liver and kidney functions to ensure that your dog’s organs are not showing signs of damage. Liver protectants will need to be given as well as supportive care. A gastric lavage may also be done or vomiting induced to rid your dog of any paracetamol that is still in their stomach. 

Once your dog is able to go home from their stay in the hospital, your veterinarian will still need to monitor the kidney and liver function to ensure that there are no long-term effects of the paracetamol poisoning. When your dog goes home, be sure to follow all care instructions given by your veterinarian to ensure that your dog stays on the road to recovery.

Recovery of Paracetamol Poisoning in Dogs

Depending on the amount of paracetamol that your dog ingests, their recovery will be guarded until your veterinarian can see how well your dog is responding to treatments. Your dog’s liver and kidney functions will need to be monitored during treatments and after to ensure that any long-term effects are caught early.

Simply avoid giving paracetamol to your dog, even though it is a common practice. This medication is only approved for humans and is not a safe medication to be given to your dog.

Paracetamol Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Bella
Boxer Shepherd
7years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Female 7 yr old midget/stunted albino boxer weighs 12kgs.
Ingested a 500 mg calpol 6 hours ago.
Has shown no symptoms of paracetamol poisoning yet.
I am in a remote location..vet access not possible.
Has the danger passed or should I rush her to a vet?
Is there a remedy I can try at home if vet access turns impossible .?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2492 Recommendations
Depending on the source, paracetamol has a toxic dose of around 75mg/kg (200mg/kg in some literature) in dogs making one 500mg tablet sufficient to cause toxicity in a 6.5kg dog; however Bella still received a dose in excess of the recommended dose for a dog her size which is 10-15mg/kg three times per day, so at 12kgs the she received a dose of 41mg/kg. I would keep an eye on her and encourage her to drink as much as possible, also giving liver support with SAMe and silybin may also be beneficial; if you have access to a Veterinarian you should visit one for a check up immediately otherwise call the Pet Poison Helpline. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/acetaminophen/

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