If your dog appears to be suffering from a minor ache or pain and you don’t think it is really serious enough to need to see a vet about, you might wonder “can you give a dog paracetamol?” You should not give paracetamol to a dog at home as it is very dangerous, and can cause potentially fatal toxicity.
While paracetamol is occasionally used for dogs in veterinary clinics where the dosage can be calculated and given accurately, even then this isn’t a medication that we commonly use for dogs, for various reasons.
If you want to learn more, keep reading.
Paracetamol is perhaps one of the best-known and most widely used medications of all, and few people in the UK do not know what paracetamol is already!
It is a type of painkiller that contains an ingredient called acetaminophen, and which is sometimes sold under brands names like Nurofen, and sometimes combined in one medication with another painkiller too, like ibuprofen or codeine; or in some cases with caffeine, which makes it work faster.
Paracetamol is the go-to medication for many of us for all manner or minor ailments. It’s a painkiller that can treat mild to moderate pain, and that may also slightly reduce a mildly raised temperature. It is even used in syrups and liquids at lower doses for children in medications like Calpol.
You don’t need a prescription to buy paracetamol, and you don’t even have to see a pharmacist either; you can buy it off the shelf from supermarkets and other retailers, although the number of boxes you can buy at a time is restricted.
Given how often we use paracetamol, how easy it is to buy, and the fact that it can be given in some cases to children, an obvious question for many is “can you give a dog paracetamol if they’re in pain?
No, you should not give paracetamol to your dog unless it has been supplied to you for this purpose by your vet, and given then under the exact directions that they provide to you for its usage.
However, it is uncommon even for vets to provide paracetamol to dogs for pain, as there are other medications that are used more commonly for this purpose and that tend to be more effective, safer, and better tolerated.
When it comes to making a decision to administer paracetamol to your dog yourself for pain or for any other purpose, you should not do this; it could be dangerous and harmful to them.
This is a complex question! Paracetamol of a specific type that is suitable to use for veterinary purposes, and so can be given in the relevant dosage accordingly, can be given to or prescribed for dogs, but only by or under the direction of your vet.
In this respect, paracetamol is safe. However, when it comes to generic, over the counter paracetamol like you would keep at home for use for yourself and the human members of your family, no paracetamol is not safe for dogs and could actually be very dangerous for them.
There are a great many reasons why you should not give a dog paracetamol, and the main one of these is that unless you are a vet (and if you are reading this, you probably aren’t!) it is dangerous for them.
Giving paracetamol to a dog at home can be dangerous and toxic to them, and might even prove fatal. There is no way to safely calculate a paracetamol dose for a dog and provide it at home with the human version of the medication. Bear in mind too that even in veterinary clinics, paracetamol is not a medication that is given to dogs very often, as there are far better alternatives that are more effective, safer, and better tolerated.
How much paracetamol is dangerous to or toxic for a dog depends on the size of the dog and the strength of the medication itself. There is not a formula that you can use to work out at home how much paracetamol might be dangerous.
If your dog has eaten paracetamol by accident, contact your vet immediately for guidance on how to proceed.
In terms of things you can give to your dog at home in place of paracetamol, well there is no alternative to proper veterinary diagnosis and treatment. None of the types of painkillers and medications that we humans keep on standby and that are more or less universally safe for us are also safe for dogs, and medications for dogs are dosed, and work, differently.
If you have any concerns that your dog is in pain, or about anything else, speak to your vet.