Can You Give a Dog Tylenol as a Pain Reliever: All the Answers You Need

Tylenol is the brand name for the drug Acetaminophen and doesn’t have any alarming side effects associated with its frequent use in most humans for pain relief. Since dogs are mammals just like humans, you might have questions like can you give a dog Tylenol to mitigate their pain?

The short answer is no, but there are certain exceptions. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the risk factors associated with Tylenol in dogs and discuss safer alternatives to relieve pain.

What is Tylenol?

a glass of water stood next to a jar pff pills

Acetaminophen, more commonly known as Tylenol, belongs to a class of drugs known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It’s used to relieve pain in cases of osteoarthritis and other swelling-inducing inflammatory conditions. Ibuprofen and Aspirin belong to this same category of drug.

Tylenol’s mode of action is blocking the synthesis of specific chemicals in the human body that causes local inflammation, redness, tenderness, and swelling. These same chemicals also cause joint pain and nerve pain.

Acetaminophen is a weaker NSAID and doesn’t have as many harmful side effects as aspirin or Ibuprofen. However, some people might be allergic to it and can experience eruptions of hives and rashes. Other side effects include nausea, vomiting, and constipation.

Can You Give a Dog Tylenol?

medication for dog

Unlike Robitussin, which can be safely given to dogs, Tylenol is specifically contraindicated in dogs, similar to Ibuprofen and Aspirin. It’s considered a poison in dogs and can be life-threatening. Always keep your Tylenol tablets well away from your pet.

If your dog shows signs of pain, you should never give it Tylenol in the hopes of relieving its pain. The best course of action would be to consult your vet, who can form a proper diagnosis before suggesting medications. If your dog humps its toy, it can be a sign of infection and genital pain, but Tylenol shouldn’t be given in that case either.

The main reason why Acetaminophen isn’t given to dogs is that there are more effective medications to relieve pain in dogs. The risk for toxicity associated with Tylenol is far greater than its benefits.


There are certain cases when your vet might give your dog Tylenol in a treatment plan. You shouldn’t be alarmed, as they will only give your dog a safe dosage that won’t cause toxicity. For dogs who are allergic to other pain relievers, or in some rare situations where access to other drugs is difficult, vets will give dogs acetaminophen in controlled doses.

Tylenol Toxicity

Normal human doses of Tylenol can be extremely toxic to both dogs and cats. Acetaminophen toxicity can manifest itself within 48-72 hours of ingestion, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any potential signs of toxicity. These include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Hypothermia
  • Hyperventilation
  • Depression
  • Tachycardia
  • Blue lips or skin
  • Brown mucous membranes
  • Facial or paw swelling
  • Kidney disease
  • Dark urine

Acetaminophen can be especially hard on your dog’s liver and kidneys. Even if the dog didn’t ingest a lot of Tylenol, the long-term effects of its poisoning manifest as liver and kidney damage. It’s important to talk to your vet if you suspect your dog has consumed Tylenol, even if it doesn’t show these signs.

Acetaminophen can also decrease red blood cells’ ability to bind to oxygen. This condition is called methemoglobinemia and it’s the main culprit behind blue discoloration and altered breathing in your dog.

How to Deal with Tylenol Toxicity

If your dog consumed Tylenol, you should take your pet to the nearest veterinary clinic. It’s better if you inform them before coming so they can prepare the necessary equipment.

Your vet might talk you through the process of inducing vomiting in your dog to be sure that the tablet is vomited out. Since doing this has its own risks, your vet will weigh this option with the amount of Tylenol consumed and the time passed. If you’re unsure about the exact numbers, opt for an overestimate so they can prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Once you’re at the vet, they will try to induce vomiting in your dog if you haven’t already. This is followed by giving your dog some activated charcoal which will absorb all the harmful toxins from your dog’s stomach. They might also take blood samples and other diagnostic tests including ultrasound to assess the degree of liver damage.

You may have to leave your dog at the vet so it can be properly monitored for any signs of a worsening condition. Your dog may receive IV fluids, medications, and supplements that’ll help flush out the toxins and slowly protect the liver and kidney.

Safe Medicines to Relieve Pain in Dogs

dog getting pill

Some human pain medications are considered safe for dogs. Always consult your vet before giving any medications to your dog.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

While Acetaminophen is also an NSAID, not all of the drugs in this class are toxic for dogs. The following NSAIDs are safe to consume by your dog for chronic pain:

  • Carprofen (Rimadyl)
  • Firocoxib (Previcox)
  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • Meloxicam (Metacam)

There are some NSAIDs that you should avoid giving to your dog:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen (Aleve)


These can be given as oral medications, but they aren’t as effective at relieving pain as NSAIDs. They are sometimes given to dogs that are allergic to NSAIDs, or if they have liver or kidney failure. IV opioids are often given to dogs during surgery or when your dog is in severe pain.

These medications include:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Tramadol
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl


If you see signs of pain in your dog, including excessive licking of a paw, it’s normal to ask yourself the question: can you give a dog Tylenol? While many human pain medications can be given to dogs safely, Tylenol isn’t one of them.

If your dog accidentally consumes Tylenol, immediately take them to a vet before they show signs of Tylenol toxicity.

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