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Tylenol is the brand name for a drug called acetaminophen. In humans, acetaminophen treats mild to moderate pain, including headaches, sore throats, muscle pain, arthritis, and cramps, while reducing fever. It’s an analgesic that changes how the body senses pain, which is why many of us keep it in our medicine cabinets.1
However, when your dog is experiencing pain or fever, you might wonder, “Can you give a dog Tylenol?” Many human medications are safe for dogs. Unfortunately, Tylenol isn’t one of them. You should never give a dog Tylenol because it can harm their health. Learn more about the dangerous risks of Tylenol and what alternatives to use when your dog experiences pain.
- Can Dogs Take Tylenol?
- My Dog Accidentally Ate Tylenol: What Do I Do?
- Preventing Dogs From Taking Tylenol
- What Human Pain Meds Are Dangerous To Dogs?
- Safe Alternatives To Tylenol
- Final Notes
Can Dogs Take Tylenol?
Can a dog take Tylenol? Absolutely not. Tylenol is a common dog poison. It’s not safe for them and can result in poisoning. Tylenol poisoning is a life-threatening condition, so you should never give your dog Tylenol or let them accidentally consume it, no matter what.2
Of course, you should never give your dog any medication without consulting your vet, including OTC medication like Tylenol. Since human medications can be toxic to dogs, the best thing you can do if you believe your dog is in pain is to take them to the vet for treatment. In addition to never giving your dog human medication without consulting a vet, you shouldn’t try to diagnose or treat your dog’s aches and pains on your own as many signs of pain and stress or anxiety look similar and can be difficult to differentiate without veterinary help and diagnostics.
Tylenol & Dogs: Potential Risks
Is Tylenol safe for dogs? You should never give your dog Tylenol because it's unsafe for them. The main reason why you should never give your dog Tylenol is that it can negatively affect their liver and kidneys.
Acetaminophen is incredibly toxic to dogs and cats, and a single tablet or pill can cause liver and kidney failure, especially in smaller dogs. Symptoms of Tylenol poisoning in dogs typically occur within 24-72 hours and include:
- Brown mucus membranes
- Facial or paw swelling
- Blue lips or skin,
- Shortness of breath
- Liver damage3
Unfortunately, liver damage can be delayed for at least a week after your dog consumes Tylenol, so if you think there’s a possibility your dog ate a pill you dropped on the floor, take them to the nearest emergency vet clinic for treatment as soon as possible. Veterinary intervention is critical in the first few hours when symptoms arise.
My Dog Accidentally Ate Tylenol: What Do I Do?
If your dog accidentally consumes Tylenol, you should seek emergency veterinary care immediately. You can call your local clinic to tell them you’re on the way to help them prepare and treat your dog faster. Since just one Tylenol tablet can cause toxicosis, you shouldn’t wait for the symptoms of illness to start appearing. When you notice toxicosis, it could be too late to treat since symptoms may appear many days later.
When you talk to your vet on the phone, they might suggest inducing vomiting, so they’ll walk you through how to make a dog throw up if necessary. However, in most cases, they’ll advise against inducing vomiting at home because there are risks associated with it that can worsen your dog’s situation.
When you talk to the vet, tell them your dog consumed Tylenol, how much, and when. If you’re unsure how much they ingested, you should overestimate so the vet can determine the worst-case scenario and find the most effective treatment.
To treat Tylenol poisoning in dogs, your vet will induce vomiting if they ingested it within the last few hours. After vomiting is complete, your dog will receive activated charcoal to soak up the toxins and prevent the body from further absorbing it.3
After treatment, your dog will spend at least one night in the hospital so they can be monitored. They’ll receive IV fluids to help their body flush any toxins left behind and prevent liver and kidney damage. They may also receive other medications and supplements to protect the liver and help them recover faster.
Your pet’s veterinarian may also recommend additional diagnostics, such as blood work and ultrasounds to get a more detailed look at any negative implications of the Tylenol.
During this time, your vet will run lab tests to ensure the treatment works and determine whether your dog is experiencing long-term side effects like anemia or reduced liver and kidney function.3 If your dog has liver damage, they’ll require more intensive treatment. However, it’s important to note that even with treatment, some dogs will pass away from Tylenol poisoning, especially if their owners wait too long to get them treatment or depending on the amount ingested. You must take your dog to the vet as soon as you believe they’ve ingested Tylenol. The earlier they can get treatment, the better their prognosis.
Unfortunately, your dog’s prognosis is not known until your vet begins treating them and running tests. If your dog has liver or kidney damage, they may not survive. However, if their liver and kidney have not been affected, your dog will likely recover quickly. Fast treatment is necessary to improve your dog’s chances of a full recovery. However, many dogs with Tylenol poisoning will remain on medication for several weeks to protect their livers.3 In addition, your vet will schedule follow-up appointments for additional testing to ensure the treatment has been effective and your dog will not experience any other side effects.
Preventing Dogs From Taking Tylenol
Tylenol poisoning is dangerous, but it’s completely preventable. The best thing you can do is keep your medications in a place where your dog can’t get to them. In addition, when you take your medication, consider doing it behind a closed door, so if you drop a tablet on the floor, you can easily pick it up.
And don’t forget to teach any guests or household members to practice the same habits in your home.
In addition to ensuring your dog can’t get to your medication, you should never give your dog human medication without first consulting your vet. Since Tylenol is an NSAID that is poisonous to dogs, it’s always best to have them treated for pain by a vet who can prescribe more effective and safer alternatives.
What Human Pain Meds Are Dangerous To Dogs?
Like Tylenol, several human pain meds are dangerous to dogs, including:
- Ibuprofen: Brand names for ibuprofen are Advil and Motrin. Your dog should never consume these OTC pain meds because they can lead to ulcers and kidney failure.4
- Naproxen: Dogs are sensitive to naproxen (Aleve), which can lead to toxicity, kidney failure, and ulcers.4
Safe Alternatives To Tylenol
If you think your dog is experiencing pain, always have them examined by a vet instead of trying to treat them at home. Several underlying health problems can cause pain, and your vet will aim to treat the primary condition to reduce the symptom of pain. In addition, accidents and injuries can cause pain in dogs, but they can take safer medications than Tylenol as prescribed by your vet. Safe alternatives to Tylenol include the following:
- NSAIDs: Technically, Ibuprofen is an NSAID, and you should never give it to your dog. However, some NSAIDs are safe for pets, including carprofen. These medications decrease inflammation to reduce pain, but they should never be given to your pet without consulting a vet. Even if your pet has a prescription for these pain meds for dogs, if they experience new pain, you should have them diagnosed by a vet to ensure they’re not experiencing a symptom of a serious underlying health problem.
- Opioids: Opioids affect the way the brain senses pain. They’re typically reserved for more severe pain and used short-term, like after surgeries.5
- Supplements: If your dog is experiencing joint pain, your vet may prescribe supplements alongside other prescriptions to reduce pain.5
- Other treatments: Depending on the cause of your dog’s pain, your vet may suggest physical therapy, acupuncture, and other types of treatments that can reduce inflammation.5
Besides medications, supplements, and various treatments performed by vets, you can reduce your dog’s pain at home. However, before trying any treatment at home, you should always consult your vet because it could worsen the pain, depending on the underlying cause. A few ways to reduce your dog’s pain at home may include:
- Exercise: Exercise can reduce pain in dogs. However, dogs with mobility issues may experience more pain when exercising, so you may have to modify the way you exercise your pet. Remember, every dog needs a different amount and type of exercise depending on their age, breed, and overall health. Therefore, if your dog is experiencing pain, you should talk to your vet about their exercise routine and find new ways to ensure they can get the exercise they need without risking injury or more pain.
- Massage: Massage is beneficial for humans and pets because it can relieve tight, sore muscles while helping them relax. Of course, before you start massaging your dog, talk to your vet about the right way to do it. Being too aggressive can cause further pain or injury. In addition, your dog may experience so much pain that they don’t want to be touched and may become aggressive when touched in pain-affected areas. Always consider your dog’s pain tolerance and weigh the pros and cons of different treatment options.
- Provide comfort: If your dog experiences joint pain and mobility issues, they may benefit from an orthopedic bed that’s gentle on the joints and allows them to get the comfort and rest they need to feel better. If your dog is experiencing mobility issues, setting out non-slip surfaces around your home (ie. yoga mats, carpet runners, and area rugs) can help.
- Healthy diet: A healthy diet can support your dog’s overall health. Several diets for dogs can help manage pain and support mobility, including diets with ingredients like fish oil. In addition, a healthy diet can prevent weight gain that can contribute to joint pain.
- Home modifications: Small home modifications can reduce your dog’s pain. For example, you can use pet stairs to help dogs easily get onto the couch or bed without the need to jump. In addition, you can put grips on slippery hardwood floors to prevent injury.
Can you give a dog Tylenol? No, you shouldn’t. No pet parent wants to let their dog experience pain, but sometimes, all you can do is wait until you can make an appointment with your vet. While you might want to do everything you can to ease their pain and make them more comfortable, you should never treat your dog’s pain at home without first consulting a vet.
Dutch telemedicine for pets makes it easy and more convenient to get the care your dog needs from the comfort of home. Instead of driving them to the vet, you can discuss your dog’s pain with our vets and get prescriptions delivered to your door. Try Dutch today.
“Acetaminophen: Medlineplus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a681004.html.
“Can You Give A Dog Tylenol?” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/can-you-give-dog-tylenol.
Khan, Safdar A. “Analgesics (Toxicity) - Toxicology.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 23 Jan. 2023, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/toxicology/toxicities-from-human-drugs/analgesics-toxicity#v3352833.
“10 Poison Pills for Pets.” American Veterinary Medical Association, https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/10-poison-pills-pets.
“What Can I Give My Dog for Pain Relief?” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/what-can-i-give-my-dog-pain-relief.