Acetaminophen Toxicity in Dogs and Cats, Part 2: Diagnosis and Treatment • Long Beach Post


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Photo by Fantasista.

Part 1 of the acetaminophen-toxicity series described symptoms of poisoning from this drug. The vet’s back in to tell you what’s done to treat them.

If your pet is brought to us within a short time after ingestion, we will induce vomiting. We do this by giving a drug called apomorphine. It can be given through an IV or as a drop on the eyeball.

We will also give activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of the drug. Since acetaminophen can be absorbed within 30 minutes of ingestion, this needs to be done soon after your pet ingests it.

Some pets come to us in a hypothermic state, a condition in which the patient’s body loses heat faster than it can be produced. We closely monitor their body temperature and give supplemental heat as needed. This can be done with heating blankets, IV fluids or in our special room where we can increase the ambient temperature.

Intravenous fluids are given to help support the internal organs, especially the liver and kidneys. These fluids allow these organs to work at maximum efficiency, especially the kidneys, to help metabolize and excrete the toxin.

Cats that have methemoglobinemia, liver damage caused by blood levels of methemoglobin that are too high (don’t worry—the vet will explain and handle it!) are given 100 percent oxygen to help the hemoglobin in their red blood cells absorb oxygen.

Liver failure is a frequent effect of Acetaminophen poisoning. This is a lab report of the disease. Graphic courtesy of LBAH.

A drug called N-acetylcysteine is an amino acid that contains sulfur and can reduce the extent of liver damage. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can also aid in reducing methemoglobinemia levels, and the herb milk thistle and s-adenosylmethionine might be used to help protect the liver also.

Milk thistle. Photo by Beautiful Blossom.

Cimetidine, commonly known by the brand name Tagamet, can help prevent liver damage in dogs. It is not used in cats because it can enhance toxicity.

Whether your pet is a patient at LBAH or goes to a family vet, this article will inform you of treatment for your pet’s symptoms. Remember to leave it to your vet—they know the correct dosage and treatment and will explain the procedures to you.

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