If your dog has managed to injure themselves or taken a knock and they seem largely ok but you suspect they might be in a bit of pain, you might be wondering if they really need to go to the vet or will be fine in a few hours or a couple of days.
If you decide they don’t need to see the vet but are wondering if there’s anything you can do to make them feel better at home, you might be wondering what human medications are ok for dogs and if you have kids, wondering “can you give a dog Calpol? No, Calpol is not a medicine you should give to your dog, and it might in fact make them far sicker if you do.
Read on to find out why dogs can’t have Calpol.
First of all it is important to make clear what we mean when we say Calpol in context of the question “can you give a dog Calpol?” The word “Calpol” is actually a brand name rather than a medication type, and today it encompasses a family of medicines of several different types, not just one; some are to ease congestion, others for pain, and others still for other uses.
However, for the purposes of the question of can dogs have Calpol, the product we’re referring to is the best known or most widely used product in the Calpol family, sold as “Calpol Infant Suspension.”
Calpol Infant Suspension, like all of the other Calpol products, is a medication designed for children. It is essentially a mixture of paracetamol and ibuprofen in a liquid syrup. It is designed as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory for even very young children, and it is sweet tasting compared to most medications.
Two variants are available, one sweetened with sugar, the other with artificial sweeteners.
Given that Calpol is designed to give to even very young children, it might seem like this would be a good medicine for a dog too – so, can you give a dog Calpol if they’re in pain? No, definitely not.
Just because Calpol is suitable for children does not unfortunately mean it is suitable for dogs too. Many dog owners assume that Calpol is milder or differently dosed than adult painkillers as it’s for kids, and that it is therefore a good match for dogs too, but giving a dog Calpol won’t help them and will probably harm them. Calpol cannot be used for dogs.
No, Calpol is not safe for dogs and is actually very dangerous for them; giving a dog Calpol stands a good chance of causing acute toxicity and potentially even killing them.
Calpol contains both paracetamol and ibuprofen as its active ingredients, and paracetamol cannot be given to dogs. Paracetamol is very rarely used for dogs in veterinary clinics, and only with great care and when no alternative is available, and on its own is toxic to dogs if given at home.
Ibuprofen, on the other hand, is never used for dogs even in veterinary clinics, as it is very toxic to them with a very small boundary between safety and potential fatality.
Calpol also contains sugar to make it palatable, but the sugar-free version contains an artificial sweetener instead, and artificial sweeteners can be toxic to dogs on their own.
Calpol is not safe to use for dogs for any reason, even though it is safe for children.
Both paracetamol and ibuprofen are medications for which dogs have a very low tolerance, and which can cause acute toxicity with even a tiny dose. A single dose of Calpol of the size you might use for a small child would be sufficient to prove fatal or at least acutely toxic for a small dog.
What can you give a dog instead of Calpol?
There are no human painkillers that are safe to give to dogs at home. Pain medications for dogs are very different to those for people, in terms of both their active ingredient and dosage.
Human medications that we might take for pain or minor ailments like paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin and so on are not suitable for dogs. They are rarely or never used in veterinary clinics due to their risks and toxicity, and that holds true even when dosed and administered by a vet.
You also cannot give a dog medications that were prescribed for another dog (or cat) even if their symptoms seemed to be the same. Even when it comes to old medications your dog has been prescribed for something else in the past, you should not give them to your dog in future for something else or a recurrence of the same problem unless your vet says it is ok.
Dogs not only need the appropriate medication for their ailments, which comes from the vet, but they also need proper attention, examination and diagnosis.
Trying to self-diagnose and medicate your dog at home can be very dangerous.