PARACETAMOL AND YOUR PETS

PARACETAMOL AND YOUR PETS

Paracetamol is commonly used in humans to treat pain and fever and is available in a variety of preparations including tablets, oral liquids and suppositories. It may also be found combined with other medications such as ibuprofen, pseudoephedrine, caffeine, codeine and tramadol. As paracetamol is found in most households, it is unfortunately one of the most common pharmaceutical poisonings that the Animal Poisons Helpline is contacted about.

Dogs and cats metabolise many medications differently to humans and can be more prone to developing poisoning following exposure to these substances. Cats are extremely sensitive to the toxic effects of paracetamol as they are unable to effectively metabolise it. This leads to a build-up of toxic metabolites in their blood, which can alter the structure of red blood cells and reduce their ability to deliver oxygen around the body. Dogs are also somewhat sensitive to the effects of paracetamol, being primarily at risk of liver damage following overdose.

The risk of poisoning following paracetamol ingestion is dependent on a number of factors including the dose ingested as well as the species and weight of the animal that has ingested it. Immediate signs may not be evident following an overdose, however timely veterinary care can potentially be life-saving. To prevent poisoning, always keep human medications well out of reach of pets. Never administer paracetamol or other human medications to your pet unless specifically advised to do so by a veterinarian.

The Animal Poisons Helpline provides free advice to pet owners in Australia and New Zealand and can be reached on ☎️ 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ). If you are a member of a veterinary team in Australia or New Zealand, you can join the Animal Poisons Centre For Vets Facebook group which is regularly updated with toxicology tidbits and poisoning trends. We thank the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development for supporting this post.