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Pet poisons & toxins pt 7: Paracetamol

The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS)* have received approximately 4,292 enquiries to date relating to poisoning resulting from the ingestion of Paracetamol – the 4th most common poisoning reported to them.

Paracetamol is a type of freely available analgesic, typically in tablet form, which is very commonly found in household medicine cabinets across the country.

Some animals are extremely sensitive to paracetamol and even a very small quantity can be harmful to pets if ingested.  This is particularly true of cats who lack the necessary enzymes in their bodies to safely break the paracetamol down.  Even a very small amount may prove fatal to a cat.

Tablets containing paracetamol are available for treatment of certain types of pain in dogs, however, these have been specially prepared, proven safe for use and are only available via your Vet – and should only be given following the advice of your Vet.

If a dog ingests non-prescribed paracetamol this can cause liver damage.  Treatment must be given by a Vet within a few hours of ingestion.

If you suspect your pet has chewed or swallowed any paracetamol you should take him / her to your Vet as soon as possible.  Take any packaging with you.

The best way to avoid the risk of poisoning is to lock away – or otherwise store securely – all medications – including paracetamol.

* The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is an internationally renowned poisons information service which provides the veterinary profession with 24 hour support and advice on the diagnosis and management of poisoned animals.  They advise on approximately 25,000 cases in total per year.  For more information about the VPIS please click here to visit the VPIS website.  If you suspect your pet may have been poisoned, come into contact with any kind of toxin or otherwise appears unwell please contact your Vet in the first instance.

COMING UP IN PART 8:  We take a look at Number 3 on the VPIS’s common poisons list – Chocolate.

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