Watch Out – Killing Pets with Painkillers

a bloodhound picture in a yard

By Dr. Jeff Grognet, DVM, BSc(Agr), Veterinary Assistant Instructor

People grab a painkiller and don’t think twice about taking one. But what about when your dog or cat is in pain?  How dangerous could it possibly be for them to take the same painkillers we take? The answer might surprise you.

Let’s take look at what can go wrong…

Is Tylenol safe to give pets?

Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Tylenol reliably kills cats. I have had many clients give their cats this medication to help bring down fevers. The problem is that this drug causes liver damage and methemoglobinemia (damage to the red blood cells). A single tablet given to a cat can cause death within forty eight hours. Acetaminophen can be safely administered to dogs, however there is potential for overdose. A regular strength tablet (325 mg) can seriously harm a 14 pound dog. Intensive treatment and specialized medications are often required to counteract the toxic effects of Tylenol.

Is Ibuprofen safe to give dogs?

Ibuprofen (Advil / Motrin):  The number one hazard for dogs is ibuprofen. Ibuprofen can kill pets and should never be given to dogs or cats. Sold under the brand names Advil and Motrin, ibuprofen is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (or NSAID for short). Widely used by people to treat minor pain, fever and inflammation, Ibuprofen has a very narrow safety margin in dogs. A single 200 milligram tablet given to a 17 pound dog can trigger severe gastrointestinal ulceration which causes inappetence (lack of appetite), vomiting, and abdominal pain. A slightly higher dosage will shut down the blood supply to the kidneys, causing acute renal failure and death. At even higher doses, dogs develop nervous signs including depression, seizures and coma. Dogs find ibuprofen’s sugar coating so attractive that they don’t usually stop after eating one tablet; they will not hesitate to consume an entire bottle.

Is Aspirin safe to give pets?

Acetylsalicylic Acid (ASA or Aspirin)  Aspirin is a weak painkiller that tends to work poorly and it can have severe side effects, causing depression, vomiting, and anorexia if too much is given. It can also trigger significant gastrointestinal bleeding. Cats metabolize ASA differently. It can kill them at even a very low dose.

As you can see, over the counter painkillers can be dangerous when administered to pets and you should be very careful when giving your pets any kind of medication. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian. They should be able to help direct you towards safer and more reliable methods of treatment.

Vet Jeff Grognet for Puptrait StudiosDr. Jeff Grognet is a veterinarian practicing in Qualicum beach, BC, Canada. He uses a conventional and alternative medicine blend for the well being of his patients. Dr. Grognet is a veterinarian with the ACE Academy for Canine Educators. We have a free educational Summit June 1 to 4 where you can learn more about health and training topics. Learn more about this topic any other common pet health issues by visiting www.dogtraining.academy.

Dr. Jeff Grognet is a guest contributor and his advice and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Puptrait Studio. Please note this post has been edited for clarity and to meet out studio’s editorial web standards. If you are a pet or veterinary professional and would be interested in contributing to the Puptrait Studio blog please contact us. Be sure to include a brief bio, contact info and the dog or pet related topic you would like to cover in your message.

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