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Is Tylenol (Acetaminophen) Bad for Dogs? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Chris Dinesen Rogers

By Chris Dinesen Rogers

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Tylenol or acetaminophen is one of several options you have for occasional pain or fever. Since many owners view their pets as family members, it’s natural to ask if you can give it to your dog if you notice its discomfort. All over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers have side effects and potential risks, even when people use them. Many apply to our companion animals, too, though.

OTC Tylenol is never appropriate to give to your pup.1 That’s particularly true if you want to use it for the long term, such as a treatment for an arthritic pet. Your vet would likely opt for a medication like Rimadyl instead. However, you should always consult your veterinarian about this before giving your dog any medications.

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What Is Tylenol?

Tylenol is one brand name for acetaminophen. Other ones you may see include Panadol, Melabon, Cetapon, and Alvedon, among many others. People take it to relieve pain. While other drugs may offer better relief, Tylenol stands out for its lower risk of stomach ulcers. It’s a common side effect for individuals taking it for chronic health conditions. It is also used as a fever reducer and for headaches.

Unlike aspirin, Tylenol is only synthesized in the lab and doesn’t occur in nature. Physicians first used it in 1893.2 It wouldn’t see mainstream commercial use until 1950 in the United States. It wasn’t until 1966 that the medical community realized its risks and potential toxicity in humans. Adult humans should never take more than 1,000 milligrams a day.

You should store Tylenol in a cool, dark place. We recommend putting it in a safe place that is out of reach of children and pets. You should discard any medication past its best-used-by date.

Acetaminophen tablets
Image Credit: James Yarema, Unsplash

How Is Tylenol Given?

Veterinarians don’t recommend giving your dog OTC Tylenol. Canines lack the same ability to metabolize the drug that humans have. That means a much smaller amount can trigger an adverse reaction. It’s even worse in cats that lack a vital enzyme to break it down safely.

What Happens if You Miss a Dose?

It’s essential to stick to the 8-hour time frame between doses.

Potential Side Effects of Tylenol

Signs of Tylenol poisoning aren’t evident unless a dog has exceeded the therapeutic dosage. However, it’s readily absorbed, making prompt treatment vital for a positive income. It can cause liver damage and impair red blood cell function. Signs include the following:

Liver damage progresses slower, complicating diagnosis and treatment. Another set of signs accompanies this complication, including an enlarged abdomen, yellowing of the eyes, and dark urine. Once they develop, the prognosis becomes grave without immediate intervention.

Allergic reactions are also possible with any new medication. Signs of an adverse reaction include inflammation, swelling, scratching, and respiratory distress.

Black domestic dog are stoop body and vomit mucus
Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Dosage Can Cause a Reaction in Dogs?

Size, life stage, and overall health play a role in a dangerous dosage. Negative reactions typically start when the amount ingested exceeds 100 mg/kg.

What Is the Treatment for Tylenol Ingestion?

Treatment must be quick and aggressive for a good prognosis for recovery. Induced vomiting works well to remove the drug from a dog’s system if done early. A vet may also use activated carbon to absorb the toxin. Following up with fluids and oxygen support can improve the chances of a pet’s survival.

What Is the Prognosis for Tylenol Poisoning?

Quick action is imperative. The longer Tylenol stays in a dog’s system, the greater the risk of liver damage and drug-induced anemia. It’s essential to get your pet to your vet or an emergency veterinary clinic as soon as possible if you suspect poisoning.

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It may seem like a disconnect that something we depend upon for pain relief should be toxic to our pets. Tylenol is not safe to give to your dog. It can lead to severe consequences and even death if you don’t act promptly. Never assume that something you can use is all right for your pup, especially OTC Tylenol.

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Featured Image Credit: Birch Photographer, Shutterstock

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