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Vet warns against giving dogs Panadol

Published:Tuesday | September 30, 2014 | 9:17 PMChristopher Serju
Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer Basil Brown of Seaview Gardens with his dog Ruff, who he said was infected with the Chik-V and was treated with bissy tea and panadol.

VETERINARIAN DR Paul Cadogan has advised against giving Panadol or any medication containing acetaminophen to domestic animals such as cats or dogs, citing the potential for severe liver damage.

"It is bad to give dogs Panadol or anything containing acetaminophen, worse cats. It causes liver damage. One dose can be fatal for a cat. While dogs may survive a single dose with damage, repeated dosing can lead to liver failure and death," Cadogan pointed out in an email on Tuesday.

He was responding to a story published in The Gleaner where a family in Seaview Gardens, St Andrew claims it had successfully treated their dog with over-the-counter medication and bissy tea after it contracted chikungunya. But the veterinarian has shot down both claims on medical grounds.

"A dog is not going to get chikungunya. So whatever was affecting that animal is something else, and there is the danger, too, with people giving their dogs Panadol or anything with acetaminophen (that) is not a good idea," he insisted.

The Seaview resident had argued that the dog - Ruff - the first member of the family to exhibit symptoms similar to humans afflicted with chikungunya had responded well to the treatment administered to people in the area.

"The dog couldn't walk, the only thing that dog could do is lay down and say 'arr, arr' and mammy boil some bissy and also give the dog Panadol, and after that the dog coulda get up and walk. Seriously!"

Cadogan offered this likely explanation: "So the bissy with its caffeine and theobromine (which is also found in chocolate - toxic to dogs in large amounts, too) 'stimulated' the dog to get up and move, but it's now missing a bunch of liver cells."

The veterinarian explained that the incidence of liver failure in dogs is very high in Jamaica and is likely caused by the misguided actions of owners with good intentions.

"They think the dog is in pain and want to give him something for pain, so they pop him a Panadol, not really knowing that that will cause him some damage. The fortunate thing for dogs is that a one-off dose is not really going to put them out of commission, but it does start some damage. One dose you give to a cat and that animal is likely going to die somewhere in the next couple of weeks, from acute liver failure," he told The Gleaner.

Cadogan also had a word of caution for pet owners who abuse some over-the-counter medication. "Acetaminophen is dangerous for us too as people if you overdose. That's why they tell you do not exceed the

recommended dose because the dose that we take is harmless to us, but if you increase it, if you take more tablets than you should, it can cause liver

damage as well."