Can You Give Paracetamol to Dogs? Understanding the Risks and Alternatives

It’s best to start on the right foot and declare NO!

While paracetamol can be given to dogs in a controlled dosage, you cannot and must not give it to your dog under any circumstances. Administration of paracetamol (or any other pain medication) to dogs must always be prescribed by a certified veterinarian.

Paracetamol, otherwise known as acetaminophen or APAP, is a manufacturer pain relief medicine designed for human consumption only and can be highly toxic to dogs.

Paracetamol may be a mild drug, and many people will say it doesn’t do anything. Still, it has been shown to cause liver damage among canines, similar to how chocolate is a treat to us and potentially dangerous to dogs.

As pet owners, we always want what’s best for our furry friends, especially their health and well-being. When our dogs experience pain or discomfort, our instinct is to alleviate it as quickly as possible. But there’s always a right way to do things.

Be careful to not confuse paracetamol (the drug) with name brands such as Panadol, Nurofen, Strepsils, Calpol, and so on – these are all paracetamol or paracetamol, including products.

How does paracetamol affect dogs?

Sick Dog

Paracetamol belongs to a class of medications called analgesics, which work by inhibiting certain chemicals in the body that transmit pain signals. 

The drug is primarily metabolised by the liver through a process known as conjugation. While paracetamol can be effective in humans, it can have adverse effects on dogs due to differences in their metabolism.

One of the most significant concerns is its potential toxicity.

Unlike humans, dogs lack a specific enzyme called glucuronyl transferase, which is responsible for safely metabolising paracetamol. As a result, it can accumulate a toxic metabolite called N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI) in dogs and become highly toxic.

NAPQI can cause severe damage to a dog’s liver, kidneys, and red blood cells. It can deplete the body’s natural antioxidant glutathione, leading to oxidative stress and tissue damage. NAPQI can also affect the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells, leading to potentially life-threatening conditions.

How to tell if your dog is sick?

As pet owners, we must be super attentive to our furry friend’s well-being and recognise when they are feeling dodgy.

Here are some tips on what to look out for:

  1. Changes in habits and behaviours can indicate something is wrong with your dog. Watch out for any significant changes in appetite, drinking patterns, or weight loss.
  2. If your dog becomes more irritable, snaps, or growls when approached, it could indicate pain or discomfort.
  3. Excessive grooming, restlessness, or difficulty settling down may also be signs of illness. Dogs may excessively lick or bite at specific areas of their body to alleviate discomfort.
  4. Changes in breathing patterns, such as rapid or laboured breathing, can indicate respiratory distress or pain.
  5. Shaking and trembling can be indicative of pain or discomfort. If your dog is shaking without reason, it’s essential to investigate further and seek veterinary advice.
  6. Bodily changes, such as swelling, lumps, or wounds, should not be ignored. Monitor your dog’s body regularly for unusual growths or injuries requiring veterinary attention.
  7. Difficulty moving, stiffness, or limping may indicate pain or musculoskeletal issues. If your dog is reluctant to walk, jump, or play as usual, it’s important to investigate the underlying cause.

Read More: 5 Homemade Recipes to Help Fix Your Doggo’s Diarrhoea / Loose Stool

What kind of pain medicine can you give a dog?

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Regarding pain relief in dogs, there are safe and effective alternatives to paracetamol specifically formulated for canine use.

1. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

These medications provide effective pain relief and reduce inflammation, specifically for dogs. Common NSAIDs for dogs include carprofen, meloxicam, and deracoxib.

Do note that human NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, should never be given to dogs as they can be toxic.

2. Opioids

In certain cases, opioids may be prescribed by a veterinarian to manage severe pain in dogs. These medications should only be used under close veterinary supervision.

3. Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Physical therapy, massage, and other rehabilitation techniques can help alleviate pain and improve mobility in dogs. These treatments are often used in conjunction with other pain management strategies.

4. Nutraceuticals

Certain dietary supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, can support joint health and reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis. These supplements can be beneficial for long-term pain management.

5. Laser Therapy

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive treatment that uses light energy to stimulate healing and reduce pain and inflammation. It can be a valuable option for managing pain in dogs, particularly for musculoskeletal conditions.

Here are two safe OTC medications that you can buy for dogs with mild pain:

Pain Relief for Dogs
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Aspirin-Free Pain Relief for Dogs
  • Supports normal joint function
  • Supports normal joint mobility
  • Supports normal joint structure

Some users of these chewable tablets have reported that some dogs may not gobble them up immediately, so you can break them down and spread over their food or jam them into a chunk of wet food.

A joint supplement may be a better alternative if you have a larger breed of dog suffering from joint pain. Check this:

It’s important to note that any medication or alternative treatment should always be under the guidance and supervision of a veterinarian. They will consider your dog’s specific condition, medical history, and individual needs to determine the most appropriate and safe pain management plan.

How to tackle paracetamol poisoning in dogs?

1. What if my dog ate paracetamol 500mg?

Generally speaking, 175mg of paracetamol per kg (body weight) can lead to toxicity. So, a 20kg dog will need to ingest 3500mgs (or seven 500mg tablets) of paracetamol to suffer from serious toxicity. That said, even 1 tablet without vet’s recommendation can cause damage.

That said, it doesn’t mean you can relax. Paracetamol can be toxic even in a small dose. The first step is immediately contacting your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency clinic. Provide them with the necessary information, including the dosage ingested, the weight of your dog, and any observed symptoms.

The veterinarian will guide you on the next steps, including inducing vomiting if it is safe and recommended for your dog’s situation.

However, what’s most important is to not attempt any home remedies or induce vomiting without professional guidance, as some methods can be harmful.

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2. What are the symptoms of paracetamol poisoning in dogs?

Identifying the signs and symptoms of paracetamol poisoning is crucial in seeking prompt veterinary care for your dog. Here are some common identifiers to watch out for:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea: Dogs may experience gastrointestinal upset, leading to vomiting and diarrhoea. Blood in vomit or stools may indicate a more severe condition.
  • Lethargy and weakness: Dogs may appear tired, sluggish, and lack energy. They may exhibit weakness or reluctance to move.
  • Pale or bluish gums: Paracetamol toxicity can affect the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells, resulting in pale or bluish gums.
  • Increased respiratory rate: Dogs may exhibit rapid or laboured breathing due to oxygen deprivation caused by the toxic effects of paracetamol.
  • Swollen face or paws: In some cases, dogs may develop facial swelling or swelling in their paws.
  • Jaundice: Yellowing of the skin, eyes, or gums may indicate liver damage.

Read More: Dog Hip Dysplasia: Exercise, Precautions & Treatment

3. When to consult a veterinarian?

While it’s important to be proactive in managing your dog’s well-being, seeking veterinary advice should always be the first step before administering any medication.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested paracetamol or if you observe any signs of paracetamol poisoning, it’s essential to contact your veterinarian immediately. Time is of the essence when it comes to toxic substances, and prompt action can significantly affect your dog’s outcome.

Additionally, if your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort, it’s important to consult a veterinarian to identify the underlying cause. Pain management requires a comprehensive approach, and your veterinarian can recommend safe and effective alternatives to paracetamol for relieving your dog’s pain.

Please understand that self-medicating your dog with paracetamol or other human medication can have serious consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can I tell if my dog is experiencing paracetamol toxicity?

Paracetamol toxicity can manifest in various symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, pale gums, and jaundice. If you notice these signs or suspect your dog has ingested paracetamol, seek veterinary attention immediately.

2. Can I use over-the-counter pain medications formulated for humans on my dog?

Using over-the-counter pain medications formulated for humans on dogs is not recommended. Dogs have unique physiological characteristics and sensitivities, and medications suitable for humans may be toxic to dogs. Always consult with a veterinarian for appropriate pain relief.

3. What is Pardale for dogs?

Pardale (or Pardale-V) is an analgesic (painkiller) for dogs. A vet almost exclusively prescribes it as they are very strong and suitable following a traumatic injury or arthritis. Pardale should never be abused and only be used when your vet prescribes or recommends the dog.

Essentially, Pardale is paracetamol for dogs, as a tablet does indeed contain paracetamol. However, it must be stated that Pardale-V has been manufactured for consumption by canines ONLY.

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4. Is it safe to give dogs ibuprofen?

It is not safe to give ibuprofen to dogs. Even in small doses ibuprofen can have serious negative effects to a dog and care far outweigh the pain relief. Giving ibuprofen to dogs can have very similar effects as paracetamol. Do not give ibuprofen to your dog under any circumstances.


  • Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.

Last update on 2024-04-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

11 thoughts on “Can You Give Paracetamol to Dogs? Understanding the Risks and Alternatives”

  1. The vet has prescribed paracetamol for our dog, is it the same as human form paracetamol? And can i therefore buy over the counter paracetamol?

  2. The Jug Dog

    Vet prescribed paracetamol is not the same as paracetamol designed for humans.

  3. My vet said buy over the counter? How can it be different as long as the dose is correct?

  4. The Jug Dog


    I personally wouldn’t. Let’s put it that way.

  5. My vet has recommended that we begin buying cheaper, human, paracetamol for our pooch. We use Pardale currently, which contains 400mg paracetamol and some codeine, the only difference from our human paracetamol pain killers is that they don’t have the codeine in and are 500mg paracetamol rather than 400mg.

  6. Paridhi pradhan

    Isnt codeine an opiate a narcotic..human paracetemol in small doses can be given to a dog once in a while as dog meds also contain paracetemol

  7. Debbie Smith

    I have a SBT who weighs 24kg, he hurt his leg and was limping so I took him to the vet after about a week and after a proper inspection of the limb she told me to give him half a 500g paracetamol tablet twice a day for 2 weeks and to bring him back if no better to be xrayed, he was fine.

  8. Michaela

    My dog has a tumour between his legs which makes it difficult to remove. The vet recommended I give my dog 2 paracetamol a day. My dog is big (american bulldog) the paracetamol will supposedly help keep him comfortable until he begins to deteriorate badly. If vets advise it then It’s ok!

  9. Kelly Moore

    My rescue dog I just adopted 2 months ago has a heart murmur and is on a chewable tablet of heart medication but she also has terribly painful hips and front legs from arthritis. She weighs about 16kgs. My Vet has had her on 1 half of a paracetamol in the morning and 1 half at night. She also recommended the liquid form for children which I’ve been injecting into her wet food with a syringe as she finds the 1/2 a pill every time I tried to give it to her. Now I’m reading all these comments that it is toxic for my dog and can cause her liver issues. It does seem to help her pain but I don’t know what to do now. Shall I call my Vet and talk about my concerns now? I’m very worried as she was on it weeks before I adopted her. Thanks in advance.

  10. My dog had been prescribed Pardale-V, Metacam and Tralieve for osteoarthritis. Partake-V is 400mgs paracetamol and 9mgs codeine. He takes 2 1/2 tablets twice a day and this equates to 2 human co-codamol tablets, which are 500mgs paracetamol and 8mgs codeine. Why can I not give him the human version?

  11. Grace Donaldson

    I have a golden retriever who has just had surgery yesterday and is limping due to lines,injections ect being put into his leg,phoned vet and was advised to give him one quarter of a 500ml paracetamol tablet and no more in a day he has had this before with no side effects but only for a couple of days,I would consult vet before giving anything.

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