Is Tylenol Safe for Dogs?
Dogs seem to have a knack for injuring themselves at the most inconvenient times. Whether it’s while you’re out in the woods camping or at 3am on a Sunday night, you know the frustration of your dog being in pain when you don’t have immediate access to a veterinarian. If they’re in a lot of pain, it can be really tempting to slip them one of your tried-and-true human pain medications, but this is a very dangerous practice.
Tylenol is a non-opiate pain medication that’s used to treat pain in humans. It’s a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), but it’s different from most other NSAIDs because it doesn’t reduce the inflammation associated with a variety of injuries. It’s very effective in humans, but it’s not safe for dogs under any circumstances. It’s also great for reducing fevers in humans, particularly children, so it’s commonly prescribed by (human) doctors when there are high fevers present.
Can You Give Dogs Tylenol?
No, dogs should never be given Tylenol. It is considered poisonous to dogs, and many canines die every year from getting into their owner’s Tylenol stash. It’s important to remember that a dog’s liver is completely different than a human’s, meaning they don’t process certain medications like humans do. When a canine liver tries to break down Tylenol, the liver cells are destroyed. When these cells are damaged, the oxygen-carrying molecule found in the blood is also damaged, resulting in oxygen deprivation. Dogs who are left untreated after ingestion come into the vet clinic with jaundice (yellow skin, eyes, and gums), difficulty breathing, and even a change in body temperature.
Pain Relief for Dogs
There are a variety of very safe options for managing your dog’s pain. Unfortunately, you can’t get any of them over the counter, so this stresses the importance of having a good relationship with your veterinarian. Any pain medication your vet prescribes is safe for your dog, although some medications may require bloodwork to guarantee their liver and kidneys are functioning well. Rimadyl, Metacam, and Deramaxx are the most commonly prescribed analgesics because they’re effective and very safe for dogs of all sizes and ages.
There are also holistic pain management methods. Acupuncture is becoming very popular in veterinary circles, and many DVMs becoming certified in performing acupuncture. It’s been shown to be extremely effective in dogs with arthritis, disc disease, hip dysplasia, and to aid in recovery after major orthopedic surgeries. Fish oil supplements are also effective in treating minor joint pain associated with arthritis. A pain management program paired with joint supplements can work wonders on how well your dog lives with arthritis or other joint diseases.
If you decide to approach your dog’s pain with a more holistic approach, you will get the best advice from a holistic veterinarian. They have the skill set to decide what is best for your dog: traditional pain medications or holistic management.
What If My Dog Ingests Tylenol?
If your dog gets into Tylenol, you should get them to your veterinarian immediately. The faster you get them treated, the less likely it is their liver and kidneys will be affected. If you see them eat the Tylenol and get them to the vet immediately, your vet will induce vomiting to empty their stomach of the drug. They’ll give them a dose of activated charcoal to absorb any remnants still remaining. Even if it’s caught early, don’t be surprised if your vet opts to keep your dog in the hospital for overnight monitoring, bloodwork, and intravenous fluids.
Dogs that are showing symptoms of liver or kidney damage, neurological problems, or having difficulty breathing, the treatment will be much more intense and dependent on what organ or system is being affected. It’s critical to get your dog treated as quickly as possible. If you wait until they’re showing symptoms, your dog’s likelihood of going home is diminished. Remember that liver and kidney damage are not reversible. Organ damage is something your dog will have to live with for the rest of their life, and it will progress as your dog ages.
No matter how desperately you think your dog needs pain medication, you should never give them anything that hasn’t been prescribed by your vet. A simple vet appointment can make the difference in whether or not your dog lives a long, healthy life.