Why is it safe to give acetaminophen to a dog but not a cat?FamilyPet
The term “safe” and acetaminophen is relative based on an individual’s personal experience. Acetaminophen has proven to be relatively safe when it comes to dosages in dogs. One tablet for a large size dog may or may not cause gastric upset that could lead to hospitalization.
Each dog’s reaction seems to be unpredictable, and most veterinary practices discourage the use of over-the-counter medications at home, unless prescribed by a veterinarian. With several different types of pain medication out on the market specifically designed for animal use, it’s not necessary to risk our animals’ health by using human products not designed for their bodies.
What is not up for debate with acetaminophen is the danger it poses for cats. One tablet is potentially lethal if administered to a feline due to the effects that acetaminophen has on red blood cells. Acetaminophen can cause Heinz Body’s to form on the surface of the red blood cells, hemolysis (destruction) of the red blood cells, and the formation of methemoglobin, which prevents oxygen from adhering to the red blood cells. Eventually, the destruction of red blood cells, the lack of oxygen being transported throughout the body, and the impairment of liver function will lead to the cat’s death. Supportive medical care can be started but unfortunately, it is rarely successful.
In a day and age where veterinary pain management is a hot topic with multitudes of products to choose between, it is unwise to treat our pets’ pain without the direct guidance of a veterinarian.