Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) is a commonly used drug available over-the-counter. Is it safe to use in dogs?

How safe is it?

Paracetamol can NEVER be used in cats. It is highly toxic to cats as their liver cannot break it down safely, and it is invariably fatal.

Paracetamol can be useful to manage pain in dogs. In higher doses however, it can be toxic to dogs as well so always carefully follow the instructions from your veterinarian.

What can it be used for?

Many take-home pain killers for your pets can have negative effects on the kidneys, so in older patients or patients with renal disease who require pain relief, paracetamol may be a good option as it has few side effects involving the kidneys.

Do we need to perform monitoring for long term use?

Yes. Because there have not been as many studies performed on the use of paracetamol in dogs, we need to perform regular blood testing to monitor liver and kidney function. Your veterinarian will be able to advise on how often these tests should be performed. It is likely you will need to perform a blood test prior to starting on this medication long term so that your vet has baseline values for these important organs.

Adverse effects?

The main adverse effects that may be experienced by patients taking paracetamol involve the liver. Signs to look out for include yellowing of white of eyes or gums (jaundice), reduction in appetite, vomiting or diarrhoea, or blood in faeces. If any of these signs occur it is important to get in contact with your prescribing vet.

Signs of acute toxicity include muscle tremors, weakness, fast breathing, dark red-blue gums and swelling of face and paws.

Dose rate

The most commonly used dose rate in dogs is 10 mg/kg orally every 12 hours. NEVER go above this does rate without first checking with your veterinarian.