Is it safe to give a dog Tylenol for arthritis?
Original Question: Is there a safe human drug, for example, Tylenol for a dog with arthritis? We were giving him a prescription that was in liquid form and another that was a tablet but the first one caused drowsiness and the other diarrhea but I didn't give him the last one. The cost was high so I don't want to use prescription. Thank you. - Maria
Thanks for your question.
Any veterinarians first reaction to your question would be to say stop using it immediately. Acetaminophen which is the active ingredient in Tylenol has a greater toxicity to dogs than other animals and ourselves. A dog’s liver cells have a reduced ability to process this particular chemical and it makes them more prone to liver damage than other drugs that act in the same way to reduce pain. Absolutely do not give this drug to your dog.
Many of the veterinary medications that are dispensed for arthritis are very expensive. I’ve seen many clients over the years start giving human anti-inflammatories and although they see a positive response, I always get nervous about this. I will always support a client trying to reduce their costs but when you start administering human medications, you take on a considerable risk. Anti-inflammatories have a wide effect on the body and I have unfortunately seen some devastatingly negative reactions that have even resulted in fatalities. I even recall a case or two that had a fatal reaction to even a one-time administration of an aspirin product. The veterinary products have their side effects as well and can have similarly bad outcomes in rare cases but it is generally agreed upon that this risk increases when a human version of this category of drug is administered.
I recommend you read our article on “7 Strategies for Treating Arthritis in Pets” and focus on all of the strategies listed there.
Discuss these strategies with your veterinarian. For example, there are some patients that I have seen lose a few pounds and it has completely removed the need to give medications. If you focus on some of these strategies you may be able to eliminate the need for expensive medications which will be cost-effective and healthier for your dog. In addition to that, share with them your concerns about finances and the limits of your budget. They may be able to offer a lower cost option.
I hope this helps and good luck.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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