If your pup’s under the weather and you’ve got a poorly pooch, you might wonder if any of the medicines in your cabinet could help to heal them.
Since your dog is quite small and has a sensitive tummy, you might think that you can give them Calpol because it’s made for kids and designed to be gentle on small stomachs.
Can you give dogs Calpol, or is this a surefire way to make your dog even sicker?
Calpol is a pain relief made for babies and children which uses paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen. It’s basically a kid’s version of paracetamol.
It is an “infant suspension” which means that the medicine has been mixed with a liquid so it’s a fluid and easy to swallow, but the medicine does not dissolve so it’s still intact and effective in the mixture.
The low levels of active ingredient and the liquid formula mean that this medicine is absorbed quickly and gets to work fast, while being easy to swallow and gentle on young tummies. It’s flavoured too to make it even more palatable for kids.
No, you should never give Calpol to your dog. Many human medicines are poisonous to dogs and alarmingly, the number of dogs going to the vet for treatment because they've had human drugs is on the rise. Calpol is one of many medicines that can poison your pooch.
You may think Calpol might be safe for Fido because it’s made for kids, who are small, and it’s designed to be gentle on their system. However, this human medicine will still make your pooch sick if they have it and it could even put their life at risk.
Calpol has been made for human consumption, so it’s designed with a person’s metabolism in mind, not a dog’s. It’s also studied and tested with humans, not dogs, so it simply isn’t made to be safe for them.
Not to mention, even little humans are still bigger than most dogs. And the bigger you are, the more medicine you can have safely. That means a dose that’s safe for kids is still way too much for a canine to consume without causing problems.
You should never try to treat your dog yourself with human medicine, because many medicines contain ingredients that are highly toxic to dogs and could make them seriously ill or could even be fatal if your furry friend eats them.
Some human medicines can be used for our furry friends in certain situations, but you must ask your vet for advice on what medicines are safe for use in animals, and how much your individual dog can safely consume.
Nope, sugar-free Calpol is no safer for your furry friend than any other kind. Sugar-free Calpol might be good for helping your kid to avoid cavities in their teeth, but it still contains the same amount of paracetamol which is what makes it so dangerous for dogs.
The same rules apply to sugar-free Calpol as any other kind, which makes it a no-go for Fido.
The problem with Calpol is that it uses paracetamol which isn’t safe for dogs and can poison them.
Calpol contains 120mg of paracetamol per 5ml of liquid. That’s a lot less paracetamol per gram than an adult’s paracetamol tablets, but still way too much for your pooch to safely consume. To put that into perspective, 5ml is about a teaspoonful. Some Calpol formulas can be stronger though, making them even more dangerous for your dog.
Dogs show signs of toxicity after eating as little as 75mg of paracetamol per kilogram of bodyweight, and doses of 150mg per kilo are considered lethal.
So if you’ve got a tiny pup like a Chihuahua, a single teaspoon of Calpol could put their life at risk. Meanwhile, a big breed of dog might get sick after eating that much Calpol, but they probably won’t be looking at life-threatening illness.
Paracetamol poisoning isn’t any fun for your pooch. Although symptoms can seem mild, such as vomiting and diarrhoea, it can wreak havoc with your pup’s insides and it can cause liver and kidney damage.
Damage to these organs is bad anyway, but worse still because it can lead to kidney disease or liver disease later on. If your dog eats too much Calpol or paracetamol it could cause complete liver failure or kidney failure which will put your pup’s life at risk.
Plus, if your dog has an underlying health condition having Calpol could make their existing illness worse. And if your pooch is receiving regular medication, having another drug like Calpol could interact unpredictably with their medicine, limiting its effectiveness or making them sick.
None, na-da, zip! You should never give your dog any Calpol because even a small amount can make them sick.
This is because paracetamol is poisonous to dogs, and even the low amounts in Calpol are too high for dogs to have.
Usually, the bigger you are, the more medicine you can tolerate safely. You might not think it, but kids are still much bigger than dogs, and you might be surprised just how much bigger!
As an example, one of the most popular dogs in the UK is the French Bulldog and they usually weigh between 7 to 13kg. Most human baby boys weigh 7kg by 4 months old, and most baby girls by 5 months.
So even if we ignore the fact a dog has a completely different metabolism and needs compared to a human, your fully-grown Frenchie is about the same size as a 4 month old baby. And babies of that age can only have 2.5ml safely, so even a few drops of Calpol can make your pooch poorly.
No, you can’t give dogs paracetamol and it is considered toxic to both dogs and cats. As mentioned above, paracetamol can make your pooch seriously sick and in severe cases it can cause organ failure and could even be fatal. Plus, damage to your pooch’s organs could lead to illness later in life, such as liver disease or kidney disease.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry and prevent your pooch from eating human medicine or anything else that could be toxic to save them from getting sick now or in the future.
But at the end of the day, Calpol is meant for kids, not canines, and even a little bit can make your pet sick. Being safe and ensuring your pooch doesn’t eat Calpol, paracetamol, or anything else that they shouldn’t eat means you could be saving your furry friend’s life as well as preventing illness, stress, and unnecessary vet bills.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.