17 Feb Paracetamol And Your Pet
It is tempting when our much loved pets are injured to treat them at home with a pain killer, such as paracetamol. However, this can do more harm than good. Dogs and cats process (metabolise) many medications differently to people and this is especially true of pain killers.
Paracetamol is extremely dangerous to our feline friends and should never be given to a cat. Cats are unable to effectively metabolise paracetamol and this leads to a build-up of toxic compounds in their blood. These toxic compounds alter the structure of red blood cells in the blood, a syndrome calls ‘methaemoglobinaemia’, which reduces their ability to carry oxygen to the tissues of the body. This leads to the gums and tongue becoming brown, the face to become swollen and damage to internal organs occurs, in particular the liver and kidneys. It can be fatal, however prompt treatment is life-saving in most cases.
Dogs are also sensitive to the effects of paracetamol where it can cause extensive liver damage leading to failure of the liver; a life-threatening complication. Early signs can include vomiting and reluctance to eat, which progress to diarrhoea, abdominal pain, jaundice, bleeding and collapse.
To avoid paracetamol poisoning of your pet, keep all medications for people out of reach of pets and preferably locked away in cabinets. Handbags and backpacks are another location that pets could access paracetamol; keep them closed and off the ground.
Most paracetamol poisonings, however, occur through well-intentioned owners purposefully administering the drug to their pained pet. If you believe your pet is in pain or injured, it is always best to discuss with a veterinarian. There are pain killers more effective and safer than paracetamol that a veterinarian can prescribe.
If your pet has ingested a paracetamol product, call us on 1300 TOX PET (1300 869 738) for a tailored risk assessment and recommendation. Our service is free for all pet owners.