It may be tempting to want to give your dog paracetamol medication when he is showing signs of pain in the hope of relieving him. However, if this gesture is made with a perfect intention, it can be hazardous for your dog. Explanations.
Paracetamol, a toxic molecule for dogs
Doliprane®, Dafalgan®, Efferalgan. are the best-known brands of drugs whose active principle is paracetamol. This molecule is used in many other medications available without a prescription, commonly used in self-medication to relieve pain and lower fever. In humans. While it is true that the dog can sometimes be treated with the same drugs as in human medicine, this is not the case for drugs containing paracetamol. This molecule, also called acetaminophen in the international vocabulary of pharmaceutical substances, is indeed very toxic for dogs.
The explanation is that the dog is not sufficiently well “equipped” with liver enzymes to eliminate doses of paracetamol generally expected for a human being with an average weight of 60 to 70 kg and repeated over time. Therefore, the risk is that the molecule accumulates in the animal’s liver and destroys its cells. Worse still, paracetamol causes a change in the haemoglobin of red blood cells, which can no longer bind to oxygen to transport it to the organs that need it. The non-oxygenated blood then takes on a dark brown colour: this is called methemoglobinemia. If methemoglobin gradually replaces all functional haemoglobin, then there is “internal asphyxiation”, which is fatal to the animal.
Symptoms of paracetamol poisoning
Symptoms of paracetamol poisoning usually appear within 6 hours to 24 hours after ingestion and are as follows:
a prostrate animal without appetite,
signs of abdominal pain,
mucous membranes (inside the lips, for example) bluish, pale or brown,
speeding heart and difficulty in breathing,
presence of haemoglobin in the urine (hemoglobinuria).
The toxic dose of paracetamol for dogs
Paracetamol is toxic to dogs from 150 mg per kg of body weight. Therefore, a single tablet of Doliprane® 500 mg represents a very poisonous dose for a small dog weighing less than 4 kg.
Toxicity can also be expressed at doses below 150 mg/kg body weight but when the administration of the drug is repeated.
I gave paracetamol to my dog: what to do?
If you have given paracetamol medication to your dog or has accidentally swallowed it, take your dog to the vet immediately at the slightest sign of poisoning.
Paracetamol poisoning is usually treated with repeated administration of an antidote made with a molecule called N-Acetylcysteine. In addition, the veterinarian may combine it with vitamin C treatment to treat methemoglobinemia. The treatment is all the more effective when it is taken soon after ingesting paracetamol.
How can I relieve my dog’s pain without paracetamol?
If your dog is showing signs of pain, you should never attempt to self-medicate with your pet. Likewise, do not attempt to replace paracetamol with another type of pain reliever medication: Ibuprofen and aspirin are also toxic to dogs.
The only thing to do is to see a vet right away.
This is because pain medications only treat the symptom (the pain) temporarily without treating the cause. However, all pain has an underlying cause that only a veterinarian can identify. By treating this cause, he will then be able to provide lasting relief to your animal. To relieve your dog quickly, the veterinarian may also choose to prescribe, in addition, drugs suitable for your dog from the wide range of anti-inflammatory drugs for veterinary use available to him.
Did you know?
In France, all veterinary drugs available France are listed in a database called Med’Vet. By consulting this database, we realize that there is, to date, no veterinary medicinal product for dogs containing paracetamol available in France.
While waiting for the consultation, it is quite possible to seek relief from your dog using homoeopathic remedies (such as Arnica 5CH or Belladonna 5CH granules) without the risk of intoxication. Applying an ice pack can also help temporarily relieve muscle pain or local inflammation in a dog. But, again, these solutions should not replace or delay a consultation with the vet. Always keep in mind that dogs are much more resistant to pain than we humans are. This implies that when they start to show signs of pain, the pain is far beyond what we might be able to tolerate!