Can Dogs Take Tylenol? A Vet’s Guide to Keeping Your Dog Safe
Overview of Acetaminophen for Canines
Pet owners commonly ask if their dogs can take Tylenol. Acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol®, is an over-the-counter medication that can alleviate pain. While it can be used in dogs, there are newer and safer alternatives.
Because of the risk for toxicity, some veterinarians never recommend acetaminophen, while others will use it cautiously.
Here are some facts about acetaminophen:
- 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) that is prescribed for dogs. Acetaminophen reduces fever as well as pain, but does not reduce inflammation. The class of drugs referred to as NSAID are more commonly recommended in dogs for treatment of pain and inflammation. NSAID drugs, aspirin, and ibuprofen are commonly used in humans, and several products have been formulated and tested for use in dogs such as Rimadyl® (carprofen), Metacam® (meloxicam), piroxicam, Deramaxx® (deracoxib), Galliprant® (grapiprant tablets), and Etogesic® (etodolac), among many others.
- 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 of Acetaminophen
- This drug is registered for use in humans only.
- Human formulations: Tylenol® is the most common brand. Other brands include Acephen, Altenol, Aminofen, Apra, Cetafen, Dolono, Febrol, FeverAll, Mapap, Ofirmev, Pyrecot, Pharbetol, Silapap, Tylophen, and Tactinal.
- 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.
- There are many formulations combined with other ingredients to treat cold and pain. These products should NEVER be used without the approval of your veterinarian.
- Veterinary formulations: None
Uses of Acetaminophen for Dogs
- The primary use of Tylenol for dogs is for pain. However, there are safer and more effective alternatives for controlling fever and pain. Therefore, acetaminophen is not used often in canines. Learn more about pain in dogs.
- Formulas with codeine, tramadol, or hydrocodone can be used in cases of severe, usually postoperative, pain.
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when recommended by a veterinarian, care must be taken when this drug is given to dogs. Excessive amounts of acetaminophen can be toxic. Acetaminophen should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
- 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, barbiturates, fenbendazole, isoniazid, phenothiazines, foods or medications containing propylene glycol, warfarin, 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, capsule, and liquid concentrations, which is the most common form used in dogs. It is also available as a suppository, elixir, and extended-release tablets.
- The most common sizes of acetaminophen are 325 mg tablet and 500 mg tablet (extra strength).
Dosing Information of Acetaminophen for Dogs
- Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian. There are better alternatives for controlling fever and pain, so acetaminophen should not routinely be used in dogs. If you're concerned about costs related to medication, pet insurance may be able to help. Click here to learn more.
- For dogs, 5 to 7.5 mg per pound (10 to 15 mg/kg), two to three times a day is recommended. If given for more than 5 days, two times a day is recommended.
- 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 dog feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.
Toxicity can develop when well-intentioned owners give medication without the approval of their veterinarian or when medication is dropped on the floor and ingested. As little as two tablets can be toxic to a 50-pound dog. The most common toxic damage that occurs is to the liver and red blood cells. Liver failure and destruction of red blood cells, also known as hemolysis, can cause signs such as trouble breathing, weakness, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of the face, inappropriate behaviors, trouble walking, jaundice (yellow color to the skin and mucous membranes), and death. High doses of Tylenol in dogs can cause keratoconjunctivitis sicca (also known as dry eye).
If you suspect your dog received an overdose of acetaminophen, call your veterinarian, closest veterinary emergency clinic, or pet poison hotline immediately. Overdoses are treated with induction of vomiting if ingestion was recent, activated charcoal to reduce absorption, and supportive care such as oxygen, blood transfusions, acetylcysteine for liver protection, intravenous fluids, and S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe).
Protect your dog by reading this article: Protect Your Dog from 5 Lethal Household Items.
FAQs About Tylenol Use for Dogs
Some commonly asked questions about treating pain and giving dogs Tylenol include:
Can you give a dog Tylenol for pain?
Acetaminophen belongs to the class of drugs known as non-opiate analgesics that reduce pain. Although it can be effective in dogs, there are better pain medications approved for the use in dogs. Talk to your veterinarian for recommendations based on your dog’s medical problem. Learn more about 3 Medications You Should Never Give Your Dog.
How much Tylenol can I give my dog?
A commonly-used dose of Tylenol for dogs is 5 to 7 mg per pound of body weight two times daily. This should only be given under the direction and recommendation of a veterinarian. There are other safer and more effective pain medications available depending on the dog’s underlying problem.
Can one Tylenol kill a dog?
Some dogs can have adverse reactions to Tylenol leading to death. The effects of one Tylenol will depend on the milligram size given, weight of the pet, and underlying health problems.
Can Tylenol hurt a dog? Is Tylenol deadly for dogs?
Tylenol can cause toxicity in some dogs. Problems may include destruction of red blood cells, liver failure, swelling, inappropriate behaviors, trouble walking, jaundice (yellow color of the skin and mucous membranes), keratoconjunctivitis sicca, and death.
Can dogs take Tylenol?
Dogs can take Tylenol, although it is not commonly recommended and should only be administered if prescribed by a veterinarian.
Can dogs be safely given plain Tylenol for mild pain?
Tylenol can be used for mild pain on occasion, but there are other pain medications that are safer and may work better for your dog.
Can you give a dog Tylenol? How much Tylenol can you give a dog?
You should give the dose as recommended by your veterinarian. There is additional dosage information above.
Can people put a dog down with Tylenol PM?
If you mean by “put a dog down” to euthanize, the answer is NO. This is not humane. See your veterinarian or emergency clinic for information about appropriate and humane methods for euthanasia. Learn more about euthanasia in dogs here.
What can I give my dog for pain relief?
Pain can be caused by many different problems. It can be acute, such as from a laceration or injury, or chronic, such as from arthritis. Sometimes, heat or cold therapy can help pain. There are many drugs that can be used to treat pain in dogs that vary from injectable narcotics to anti-inflammatory drugs. The drug should be appropriate to the pain and dose should be appropriate to the size of the dog. Drugs used to treat pain include aspirin, tramadol, carprofen, ibuprofen, etodolac, ketoprofen, and deracoxib. These drugs should never be given without consulting with your veterinarian. Overdosing these medications may result in serious illness and side effects. Learn more about pain in dogs here.
Does ibuprofen work on dogs?
Ibuprofen, commonly known by the brand names of Advil, Motrin, and others, is an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug medication available to treat pain and inflammation in humans. It can work in dogs, however is not commonly recommended due to the potential for toxicity. Learn more about ibuprofen use in dogs. Another useful article is The Dos and Don’ts of OTC Meds For Dogs.
Can I give my dog aspirin safely? In what dose?
Acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin, belongs to the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs commonly abbreviated as NSAIDs, and is commonly used to treat minor pain and inflammation. Learn more about aspirin here.
Can I use human medicine on dogs?
There are several medications that can be used in dogs. Learn more with this article: 15 Human Over-the-Counter Drugs Safe for Dogs.