Tylenol (also known as acetaminophen) is an over-the-counter medication commonly used to reduce fevers and relieve mild pain. Tylenol is one of the most widely used pain relievers among humans and is safe to give dogs in the correct quantity.
Most complications arise from overdosing, allergic reactions, and preexisting conditions. Read on to find out more about the effects of Tylenol on dogs.
You should always contact your vet before giving your dog any medication designed for humans. While the VCA states that Tylenol can be toxic to dogs even in small doses, several sources say that Tylenol is perfectly safe to use as long as it's administered correctly.
Many vets — including Dr. Catherine Lee-Smith, a practicing veterinarian based in the UK — prescribe Tylenol to dogs for pain relief. If you're giving your dog Tylenol, make sure it is not a variation that contains aspirin or caffeine, as this can be potentially harmful. Opt for regular strength Tylenol.
Tylenol comes in both liquid and tablet form. The correct dosage of Tylenol is around 10 mg per kg of body weight every 12 hours. Some sources claim that you can give your dog up to 30 mg per kg for a short period. Recommended dosages are different for every dog, so you're best off checking with your veterinarian before giving your dog Tylenol.
Tylenol is very effective as a painkiller and is often prescribed to relieve pain caused by diseases like degenerative myelopathy. Pardale-V, a mixture of Tylenol and codeine, is a commonly used drug in the veterinary field. While Tylenol is useful in the short term, it shouldn't be taken for long periods, as it could cause liver damage.
Active ingredients in Tylenol
The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen, a common ingredient in many over-the-counter painkillers.
A bottle of Tylenol costs between $7 and $10 depending on the retailer.
Common side effects associated with Tylenol include:
If your dog overdoses on Tylenol, it could cause acetaminophen toxicity. As dogs don't have the same metabolism as humans, they break down acetaminophen at a different rate. In severe cases, acetaminophen can cause liver damage in dogs.
Acetaminophen toxicity occurs within 1 to 4 hours of overdose. Acetaminophen toxicity can be fatal and should be treated by a veterinarian immediately. Telltale signs of acetaminophen toxicity include vomiting, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and excessive drooling. Cyanosis can also develop.
Cyanosis is the medical term for the discoloration of tissue around the eye. Cyanosis involves a molecule known as methemoglobin. Methemoglobin prevents red blood cells from carrying oxygen throughout the body. Methemoglobin could cause blood in a dog's urine and pockets of fluid to build up in the face and limbs. To ensure the best prognosis, the presence of methemoglobin in a dog’s bloodstream must be diagnosed and treated immediately.
You should consult a veterinarian before giving your dog Tylenol, especially if they are taking other medications. Tylenol can interact adversely with certain chemotherapy drugs and anesthetics. You should also let your vet know if you are giving your dog any supplements or vitamins which may affect their treatment.
Allergic reactions and sensitivity
Do not give your dog Tylenol if they are allergic to acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If you notice your dog is having an allergic reaction, contact a vet as soon as possible. You should not give your dog Tylenol if they've had any of the following:
Frequently asked questions
Can I give Tylenol to my cat?
While Tylenol is safe for dogs in the correct dosage, you should never give Tylenol or any product that contains acetaminophen to cats. Giving your cat Tylenol will result in acetaminophen toxicity and liver disease. At its worst, Tylenol can be fatal to cats.
There's a lot of conflicting information about Tylenol's effect on dogs. Is it definitely safe to use?
While there is conflicting information on Tylenol's safety, most vets agree it's safe to give dogs acetaminophen. Regardless, you should always contact your vet before medicating your dog, as they may suggest a different treatment method.
What should I do if I forget to give my dog their dose of Tylenol?
If you forget to administer a dose of Tylenol, give it to your dog as soon as possible. After giving them the missed dose, make sure to wait 12 hours before giving them their next treatment. Never double up on doses of Tylenol.