Dog Medication 101: Is Paracetamol Safe for Dogs?
If you find yourself asking this question, you’re not alone. Nearly all dog owners want the best for their dog, after all, they’re man's best friend. Your dog may have hurt itself during the day and the pain is visible so you think I’ll just administer some paracetamol, or your dog may have done the very dog thing and eaten whatever it can get its mouth upon. Both of these lead to the question, is paracetamol safe for dogs? The short answer is No, paracetamol is not safe for dogs.
So now that you have the short answer, now it’s time for the long detailed one.
How much paracetamol can a dog take?
So we have already highlighted that paracetamol isn’t safe for dogs, but the next heading says “how much paracetamol can a dog take” slightly confusing, right?
Well, dogs' bodies can deal with a level of paracetamol in their bloodstream and this varies as expected on the size of the dog. According to Willows Veterinary Centre dogs weighing 20kg, can tolerate ingesting seven 500mg tablets to cause toxic effects. Elwood vets say that a 10kg dog may suffer liver damage from as little as two tablets. Both Veterinary practices strongly advise against giving your dog paracetamol, and we should all listen to them.
To answer how much paracetamol can a dog take, none. You may get away with a dog ingesting perhaps one 500mg tablet, but even then it’s advisable to visit your vet as soon as possible. Personally, there is no point risking this for the wellbeing of your dog.
What if my dog eats paracetamol?
The short and sweet answer: Contact your vet or get to your local veterinary practice as quickly as possible.
If possible, get the packaging, which shows the strength of dosage and try and work out how many tablets your dog may have taken (it’s better to overestimate than underestimate). Once at the vets they will likely try and induce vomiting to rid the body of as many toxins as possible, lowering the effective dosage. A binding agent may be given too which helps absorb any remaining toxins which are left in the digestive system.
The vets may want to keep your dog in for monitoring, this is for the dogs' safety as they will observe for signs of paracetamol poisoning.
What are the signs and symptoms of Paracetamol poisoning in dogs?
Paracetamol is a quick-acting painkiller, if you’ve ever taken any you will know how fast it acts. It gets digested into the body rapidly, and the same goes for dogs as well as humans. Dogs do not have the right enzymes to break down paracetamol and so this results in a buildup of toxins. These toxins limit oxygen movement around a dog's body, meaning they do not have the required oxygen getting to all muscles and organs to maintain normal bodily function. With a lack of oxygen, a dog will likely pant to increase the amount of available oxygen. Shortness of breath is a common symptom of paracetamol poisoning, this is linked to the lack of oxygen in the body. This isn't to be confused with panting, which is common for many dog breeds to do to cool down, this is something to be aware of. If you can safely do so, check inside the mouth to see if the gums have or are turned blue. This is a further sign of a lack of oxygen in the body.
Along with breathing issues dogs are also likely to be vomiting, this is because the body is trying to remove the paracetamol from the digestive system. The body may also create excessive saliva. Your dog’s temperature is also likely to drop to the point of hypothermia, a mild hypothermia temperature in dogs is between 32 - 35°C (90 - 95°F)
Other initially visible symptoms include:
- Dark coloured urine
- Swelling of the face, neck or limbs
- Stomach pain
What to do if I think my dog accidentally takes in Paracetamol?
If you think your dog has accidentally eaten paracetamol the safest thing to do is contact your vets, where they will likely recommend heading into the veterinary practice for an examination and treatment. If possible, gather any packaging as this will help everyone understand potentially how much the dog has ingested and what strength of the dosage. This will help the vet understand and determine what treatment if any is necessary.
If it isn’t possible to visit a veterinary practise then you should try and locate something which can absorb the paracetamol quickly. Or if the paracetamol has just been eaten, something which makes them vomit.
Typically, clay-based products are most readily available for absorbing the toxins. Good examples are:
- Argiletz green clay
- Bentonite clay
- Straight kaolin
These can usually be found in face masks and other such products. If your dog now ingests these clays much of the toxins will be absorbed into the clay and not the body, allowing them to pass naturally.
Even after this treatment, you should maintain a very close eye on your dog, its behaviour and its vital signs for symptoms of paracetamol poisoning. It is still advisable to head to your local veterinary practice for a professional assessment.
Under no circumstances are you to give paracetamol to your dog. If your dog has accidentally or been fed paracetamol, contact your vets immediately for professional advice about what action to take next. There are several signs of paracetamol poisoning which should be looked out for if you think your dog isn’t its usual self.
**Note** This content is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If your dog has a medical condition or serious health problems, obtain your vet's consent before using the above products.
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