Posted by justinelee in Animal Safety, Blog, Pet Health
As a veterinarian, I never thought I’d be writing on a blog on how to euthanize a dog or cat with Tylenol at home…
A few months ago, a fellow veterinarian contacted me about a blog that she saw on Petbloggish.com about how to euthanize a dog at home with Tylenol (which contains the active ingredient acetaminophen – which is more commonly called paracetamol in other countries). How to kill your own pet at home. For real. (Thankfully, they have since removed this blog!)
This is unacceptable.
As a veterinarian, animal lover, and toxicologist, let me tell you that this post had me livid. First, the decision to euthanize a pet is so hard… and you don’t want it to fall you on, right? When in doubt, please talk to your veterinarian about this decision. I’ll say that it was even a hard decision for me – a veterinarian of over 20 years – with my OWN DOG. (You can read about my decision here).
I mean, I get it – it’s such a hard decision. I’ve sadly seen my own sister’s cat have a botched euthanasia, and I’d hate for that to happen to someone else. And ideally, you shouldn’t let your pet die at home. I wrote about this HERE. I also talk about having to euthanize your pet even in the veterinary ER on my radio show with Pet Life Radio, ER VET here.
That said, you should never use any medication at home – Tylenol is used in veterinary medicine in DOGS only – never cats. It’s sometimes used in small doses with codeine for pain support in hospice patients (not routinely, though). That’s because it can cause dry eye at even therapeutic doses in dogs. You can see the published data on that HERE. As for higher doses in dogs? It causes toxicity to the liver within 2 days including signs of:
- not eating
- elevated liver enzymes
- jaundice (yellow skin)
- black tarry stool
- bloody diarrhea
- vomiting (including with blood)
- chocolate-colored gums
- difficulty breathing
I previously wrote a blog on Tylenol poisoning in dogs, if you want more detail. Yes, Tylenol can kill a dog or cat – but it’s very slow in killing. The point is, very few poisons kill humane and acutely – it typically takes 24-48 hours before your pet dies, and it’s not a good way to go.
When in doubt, please contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for advice, and talk to your veterinarian. If you have financial limitations, a veterinarian will work with you when it comes to humane euthanasia. Or the local animal shelter. But can you euthanize your pet at home? No, please do not try to euthanize your dog or cat at home. They are our four-legged family members, and don’t deserve an ending like this.