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Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Overview

  • Acetaminophen belongs to the class of drugs known as non-opiate analgesics. This drug reduces pain but is not related to morphine.
  • Acetaminophen is not a typical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Acetaminophen reduces fever as well as pain but does not reduce inflammation.
  • Acetaminophen is available without a prescription but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Tylenol® (McNeil) is the most common brand. Acetaminophen is supplied by numerous drug companies with a variety of trade names and various generic formulations. In the UK, acetaminophen is known as paracetamol.
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Acetaminophen

  • There are better alternatives for controlling fever and pain; therefore, acetaminophen is not used often in dogs.
  • Formulas with codeine can be used in cases of severe, usually postoperative, pain.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when recommended by a veterinarian, acetaminophen can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Acetaminophen should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Acetaminophen should never be given to cats. It can result in fatal blood and liver disorders.
  • Care must be taken when this drug is given to dogs. Excessive amounts of acetaminophen can be toxic.
  • Acetaminophen may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with acetaminophen. Such drugs include doxorubicin and certain anesthetics.
  • Since acetaminophen is not commonly used in animals, there is limited adverse effect information. Damage to kidneys, liver and gastrointestinal tract can occur.

    How Acetaminophen Is Supplied

  • Acetaminophen is available in a variety of tablet sizes and liquid concentrations.
  • The most common size of acetaminophen is 325 mg tablet and 500 mg tablets (extra strength).

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • There is no safe dose of acetaminophen for cats.
  • For dogs, 5 to 10 mg per pound (10 to 20 mg/kg), two to three times daily.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.



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