Can dogs have human paracetamol? - PET SKINCARE FOR ITCH, PAW LICKING, TEAR STAINS & MORE

Can dogs have human paracetamol?

Paracetamol is a common pain killer that we can buy at stores and pharmacies for alleviating pain and fever in humans. It is also a main ingredient in veterinary medications such as Pardale-V.  Which naturally leads us to wonder why we can't use store bought paracetamol licensed for humans (and much cheaper) for pets.

Is paracetamol harmful or dangerous for dogs?

The administration of human paracetamol formulations such as calpol to dogs carries inherent risks due to potential inclusion of other drugs (combination products such as those with codeine or phenylephrine), inclusion of additives and sweetners such as sweetners (xylitol), potential side effects and some formulations may contain too high doses of the active ingredient for our dogs. 

Secondly, Human metabolism is significantly different from that of dogs. Consequently, certain medications deemed safe for human use may pose toxic or even lethal risks when administered to dogs.

Paracetamol containing products are highly toxic to cats and should never be given to cats or left in a place where it is accessible to cats.

In emergencies, vets might say it's okay for pet owners to give their animals paracetamol from their own medicine cabinet. This is only until the vet can see the animal and give the right prescription.

When Veterinary professionals recommend the administration of human-licensed paracetamol to a pet by a pet parent, this is done so under the prescribing cascade and constitutes a veterinary prescription. 

The exact mechanism of action of paracetamol to reduce fever and pain is not known, but it is hypothesised that paracetamol works by increasing the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine in the body by targeting certain neurotransmitter pathways of the central nervous system.

Can Veterinarians prescribe human- licensed paracetamol for pets?

The exclusive veterinary-approved form of paracetamol for small animals is Pardale-V (Oral Tablets), sanctioned solely for use in dogs.

Pardale-V may be prescribed for other species under step (a) of the prescribing cascade. However, this action is warranted and defensible only in cases where no UK-authorised medication exists to address the condition (e.g., pain) in that species. Veterinarians must be mindful that cost alone cannot justify prescribing under the cascade; decisions must solely aim to prevent unacceptable suffering. Note according to the MSD Veterinary manuals paracetamol is contraindicated for use in cats.

While human-licensed paracetamol could be prescribed under step (b)(i) of the prescribing cascade, justification in this scenario must also elucidate why a veterinary medicine (authorised for the species and condition, or for another species or condition) cannot be utilised.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate has affirmed that, in emergency situations, a veterinarian may deem it in the furbaby's best interest for the pet parent to administer paracetamol from their existing supply at home. This is permissible until the furbaby can be evaluated by a veterinarian and a more suitable prescription provided.

What are the side effects of paracetamol in dogs?

Contact your veterinarian if your dog shows any of the following side effects while they are taking Paracetamol:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Lethargy

  • Constipation

  • Loss of appetite

  • Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes

  • Increased thirst and urination

Paracetamol can cause liver damage and decrease red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen. Not withstanding this overdoses can be severe. Signs and symptoms of an overdose or toxicity can include vomiting, loss of appetite, yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice), weakness, collapse, dark colored urine, or uncontrolled bleeding. Contact your emergency veterinarian if your pet exhibits any of these signs. 

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