Why are dogs and cats not allowed to use paracetamol for pain?
Most people have it at home, paracetamol. A pain reliever that works quickly and has few side effects. That is also the reason that people give their dogs or cats paracetamol in pain. On the assumption that a painkiller works just as well in animals as it does in humans. And that is not the case. Symptoms of poisoning can occur in dogs and cats and in the worst case can lead to death. When taking paracetamol, the animal must break it out as soon as possible. The vet can flush the stomach and possibly give Norit. So that the harmful substances leave the body quickly.
What does paracetamol do in the human body?
Paracetamol is a known pain reliever. It is widely used for acute pain such as: toothache, menstrual pain, back pain, headache, sore throat, earache, muscle pain and joint pain. It helps with all types of pain anywhere in the body. In addition, it is also fever-reducing. Paracetamol works quickly and has few side effects.
How paracetamol works
Pain stimuli are passed on to the brain via the nerve pathways. The active substances in paracetamol disrupt this process, causing the pain to decrease temporarily. This does not remove the cause.
Why do people give acetaminophen to their pets?
It is often thought that what helps people can also help animals. But an animal’s body works differently from the human body. Even a low dose can be harmful in animals. Paracetamol is even more harmful for a cat than for a dog.
Overdose in cats
Paracetamol can already cause symptoms of poisoning in a cat at a very low dose. Poisoning occurs with an intake of 10 mg / kg. For a five kilo cat, that’s one tenth of a 500 mg tablet. At 75 mg / kg, the outcome can be fatal.
Overdose in dogs
The course is slightly more favorable in dogs than in cats. Symptoms of poisoning occur when ingested from 100-150 mg / kg. With an intake of 250 mg / kg, the outcome can be fatal. But the complaints can be different per dog. In some cases very low doses are sometimes administered. These only work on a dog for a very short time, making it better to give a pain reliever prescribed by the vet.
Why is acetaminophen harmful to dogs and cats?
In humans, the liver can convert paracetamol into an active substance. A dog or cat’s liver cannot convert and break down acetaminophen. Waste products do not leave the body through urine and feces. An excess amount is left behind, which causes liver cells and red blood cells to be broken down. A shortage of red blood cells causes severe anemia. Organs no longer receive enough oxygen and that can be fatal.
The symptoms of acetaminophen poisoning in dogs and cats
The symptoms of poisoning are the same in dogs and cats. Within four to seventy-two hours they will experience:
- Rapid breathing, shortness of breath
- Blue mucous membranes due to insufficient oxygen in the blood. The blood turns purple instead of red.
- Lethargy, not being able to stand firm on the legs
- Decreased appetite
- Brown-colored urine
- A swollen head and legs
- Yellow-colored mucous membranes (jaundice)
In a short time, irreparable damage to the kidneys and liver occurs. Damage the red blood cells so that too little oxygen enters the organs.
The treatment shortly after ingestion
If treatment can start shortly after ingestion, the risk of a fatal outcome is less. Try to contact a vet as soon as possible. Initially, the vet will give something to induce vomiting. This only makes sense for the first hours after ingestion, after which the toxic substance has been absorbed into the blood. Do not try to induce vomiting yourself by giving salt. The damage will only increase. Salt is quickly absorbed into the blood. As soon as this blood enters the brain, it withdraws moisture from it. That can lead to bleeding in the brain.
In addition, the dog or cat is administered Norit (activated charcoal). Calculate two grams of Norit per kilogram of body weight. The animal should take Norit four to six times a day for two to three days. Norit chemically binds with acetaminophen. It prevents the absorption of paracetamol in the gastrointestinal tract.
Flushing the stomach
The stomach can be flushed under anesthesia. The airway is cleared and supplemental oxygen can be administered.
If treatment takes place after four hours or if the animal shows signs of poisoning, additional measures must be taken. The dog or cat is admitted and given an antidote. Acetylcysteine (bisolvone, fluimucil) is an antidote that binds with acetaminophen. It ensures a better blood supply to the liver and prevents a lack of oxygen in the blood.
Remove toxins from the body
The toxic substance can be flushed out of the body by connecting an IV. The moisture content is maintained and the blood circulation in the organs improves. Oxygen is administered when there is too little in the blood. In severe anemia, a blood transfusion is necessary. The animal also receives extra medication.
The recovery of the liver
Dogs and cats can be completely cured after paracetamol poisoning. The liver takes up to three weeks to recover. During these weeks the animal will receive additional medication. Unfortunately, too many animals are still dying because treatment was started too late.