For aches and pains, we humans have a lot of options when it comes to relief, both natural and pharmaceutical. After a nice evening run, warm water and heating pads can untangle the strain of sore muscles fast. Sore throats answer to honey tea and decongestants, and a sore tooth is tackled by swishing salt water and taking a course of antibiotics. Some would agree the biggest champion to conquer these issues and more would be Tylenol. Don’t you wish there was also a Tylenol for dogs to manage their pain as well as it manages ours? Or isn’t there?
You may be surprised to hear that some over-the-counter medicines for humans can also be given to our pets! Tylenol is one drug dogs can take under certain conditions and with care. When can you give your dog Tylenol? Let’s go through the science and find out.
What Is Tylenol For Dogs?
While there is no specific Tylenol branded for dogs, you can give regular Tylenol (generically called “acetaminophen”) for people to dogs in some cases. Pain, though very uncomfortable, is a useful sensory response that lets our pets know when something is harmful; it prevents them from hurting themselves any further. But too much pain can be debilitating and cause more agony than your pet can handle. If you think your pet is dealing with unnecessary pain, always have them checked out by a veterinarian before starting any treatments yourself. There may be underlying medical issues that need to be addressed first, and more importantly, they will know what medications will help.
Is it Safe to Give My Dog Tylenol?
Tylenol is not often prescribed to dogs, and information regarding its safety in pets is limited. We know that Tylenol is nearly always fatal in cats and that an incorrect dosage in dogs can cause severe liver damage and death. Dogs should not be given Tylenol if they:
- Had surgery in the past 24 hours
- Have liver or kidney issues
- Have blood clotting disorders
- Have stomach ulcers
- Are pregnant or nursing
Always mention to your vet all of your pet’s current health issues and prescribed medication beforehand so they can determine if your dog is a good candidate for Tylenol.
When Can You Give a Dog Tylenol?
Under the care of a veterinarian, Tylenol can be given for minor discomfort, fevers, and pain relief and is often accompanied by other medication as part of a multi-drug treatment plan. It’s given to German Shepherd breeds to treat degenerative myelopathy (a spinal cord disorder that causes paralysis in older dogs). It is sometimes given in cases where other pain meds can damage the kidneys or stomach. Your vet may ask you to monitor your dog for harmful side effects in the meantime and to carefully measure out their dose every time it is administered. Tylenol is not commonly prescribed, and if your vet prescribes it, it will probably be a rare instance and only for a short period.
In general, Tylenol is arguably one of the safer human medications to give dogs, in part because it is not a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are a class of medication that reduces pain, lowers fever, prevents blood clots, and reduces inflammation. While Tylenol can help with pain, it does not help with fevers, blood clots, or inflammation.
NSAIDs are commonly considered toxic for most animals in any dose, especially when they ordinarily already bring their own set of risks to humans (ulcers, heart attack, kidney disease) if taken too often. NSAIDs are more deadly to pets because the drug may last longer in their systems, are absorbed faster in the digestive tract, and drug levels can spike dangerously in the blood. For these same reasons, dogs are sensitive to Tylenol and should only be given it under careful direction.
A licensed veterinarian should determine a dose of Tylenol. Because Tylenol has had minimal research through official studies, it’s difficult to establish a certified dosage amount. There is conflicting information online about how much dogs can handle. Some sources say 5-10 mg dose per pound of a dog’s weight every 12 hours, while others say no more than 7.5 mg per pound 2-3 times a day. Tylenol also comes in varying strengths which affects the dosage amount as well. With so much ambiguity around the dosage, it’s not safe to determine the amount yourself.
How Fast Does Tylenol Work?
In dogs, Tylenol is absorbed much faster than it is by the human body. Side effects and toxicity can occur in dogs in as little as 30 minutes of swallowing a pill, and sometimes even faster depending on other medications your dog is taking, the size of your dog, and how strong a dose/number of pills they ingest.
Side Effects of Tylenol For Dogs
The side effects for dogs taking Tylenol can result in life-threatening toxicity. This toxicity is usually determined through blood testing that analyzes your dog’s complete blood cell count. Metabolization occurs in the liver, so most damage caused by Tylenol in dogs causes liver damage. It can also impact how well red blood cells carry oxygen to the rest of the body. A substance produced by the breakdown of the medication in dogs binds strongly to red blood cells. Once bound, the substance changes the proteins in the blood that allow them to carry oxygen, limiting the amount of oxygen that reaches your dog’s vital organs. This leads to organ failure and, eventually, death.
The main signs that your dog is suffering from toxicity can include:
- Decreased appetite
- Panting or difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Gum discoloration
- Brown urine
- Swelling of face or paws
How Does Toxicity Occur?
Most cases of toxicity caused by Tylenol are accidental. Sometimes a dog accidentally eats Tylenol because the bottle has been left within their reach, or stray pills are found on the floor. Some cases can occur by careless pet owners who didn’t know better or gave Tylenol to their pets without consulting with a vet first.
Because animals lack natural enzymes that detoxify and eliminate drugs from their systems made for humans, many human medications can cause toxicity symptoms, pensioning, and death.
What is Treatment for This Toxicity?
Toxicity from Tylenol happens quickly, so fast action is important. The best option would be to rush your dog to an emergency clinic or vet’s office for immediate care. If you see that your dog has accidentally taken Tylenol, there are a few quick actions you can take to prevent that from happening. It’s possible to induce vomiting to get rid of the medicine before your dog’s body can absorb it. However, inducing vomiting can cause more harm than good if not done correctly, so it’s always best to do this under the guidance of a vet. Pumping the stomach of its contents is also another option your vet may choose to do. This would also involve a visit to a vet for emergency care.
Your vet may also administer a special formula containing activated charcoal which will slow the absorption rate of the Tylenol. An antidote called N-acetylcysteine can limit the formation of the substance that affects the oxygen-carrying capacity in red blood cells. Other medical treatments like blood transfusions, IV fluid therapy, and other medications can support and stabilize your dog’s health and save their life.
The best thing you can do is ensure that your pet never has to deal with toxicity in the first place. Never give them Tylenol unless your vet tells you to, and keep all pain medications out of reach to prevent accidental consumption.
Cost Of Tylenol
The price of Tylenol is usually low, depending on where you buy it from and in what quantity. Over-the-counter Tylenol from the drug store starts at about $4 for a bottle, but pricing can vary if you go to higher-end pharmacies like Walgreens or CVS. Some stores offer discounts if you buy in bulk or have a rewards card or certain kinds of insurance.
Your veterinarian can also prescribe Tylenol if they suggest it as a part of your dog’s treatment plan. In these cases, the number of pills you receive may be the exact amount they want your dog to take and maybe at a reduced cost.
Generic formulas also exist. These are usually unbranded medicines with all the same active ingredients as a brand-name medication that is FDA regulated and approved. Usually, generic drugs are cheaper and provide all the same benefits as branded ones. The generic name for Tylenol is called “acetaminophen” and works the same as the named pain reliever.
Interaction With Other Drugs
In humans, Tylenol can have negative reactions with certain medications like warfarin and can have severe interactions with alcohol in most cases. But since dogs don’t drink (at least we hope they don’t!), they are more likely to experience reactions with other medications they may be taking. This can include other pain relievers, blood thinners, or medications that affect the liver or stomach are not recommended. Some medicines have known harmful interactions like the below. Always consult a vet before starting a new treatment plan so they can map out a safe strategy that will benefit your pet.
- Cimetidine – Given to treat stomach ulcers. Dogs with sensitive stomachs usually should not take Tylenol, and the two together may cause adverse reactions.
- Rifampin – Sometimes used to treat infections in dogs, though it is primarily given to horses. It can cause major liver damage, which Tylenol can exacerbate.
- Leflunomide – Treats autoimmune diseases in pets. The combination of the two may cause liver issues and tissue damage.
- Other pain relievers – Any other pain relievers your dog takes will likely interact badly unless your vet says it’s okay. Too many pain relievers can cause organ damage, difficulty breathing, and death.
Ingredients In Tylenol
Name brand Tylenol contains acetaminophen as its primary ingredient. Other minor, inactive ingredients include the following:
- Powdered Cellulose
- Pregelatinized Starch
- Sodium Starch Glycolate
- Magnesium Stearate
- Purified Water
- Artificial coloring
- Polyethylene Glycol
- Titanium Dioxide
Off-brand and generic medications will have minor differences in the inactive components but will still contain acetaminophen as their primary ingredient.
Because Tylenol is not for every dog, there are better alternatives for treating pain. Some brand name medications that your vet may consider for your pet include:
- Rimadyl (generic novox carprofen)
- Deramaxx (generic deracoxib)
- Previcox (generic firocoxib)
- Metacam (generic feloxicam)
- Gocovri (generic amantadine)
- Neurontin (generic gabapentin)
- Ultram (generic tramadol)
Rimadyl is a strong pain killer that can damage the gastrointestinal tract and is usually given post-surgery and for dogs with severe pain and inflammation.
If your dog doesn’t have any major issues that need addressing but still need a little help with the day-to-day pains, there are other ways to manage this without prescription medicine. Natural alternatives like CBD for dogs can be a holistic approach to providing relief.
CBD dog treats like Pet Hemp Company’s range contain enough CBD to provide lasting aid for aches and discomfort. Administering CBD is easy because the treats come in yummy flavors your pet already loves and are easily digestible. Other options like CBD oil and capsules are also available for convenience and efficiency.
CBD can help with more than just discomfort relief! It can also help with swelling, appetite, mood, immune support, and general wellness to support your pet even further.
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