No pain relief for our pets - a panadol warning

Over the last month we have had three cases of Panadol toxicity in pets involving two cats and one dog in three separate incidents.

‘Charlie’ a young female cat and ‘Max’ a middle aged male cat were lucky to survive their ordeals. Charlie was given half an adult Panadol (paracetamol) tablet to treat a fever by her mum who did not know about the adverse effects of this drug in cats. Max was accidentally given two adult Panadol tablets when they were mistaken for worm tablets.

The signs of Panadol poisoning in cats includes rapid breathing, brown-blue gums and swollen faces.

When Charlie and Max’s parents realised they were having adverse reactions they were brought into our practice and admitted to hospital. They were started on intravenous fluids and given oxygen therapy by placing them in an oxygen box. They were also given multiple injections of an antidote.

Over the next 24hours both cats had close monitoring both at our clinic and overnight at the Animal Emergency Centre. Thankfully both Charlie and Max improved quite quickly and were able to go home after a couple of days with close home monitoring and regular check ups at the hospital.

Panadol in cats and to a slightly lesser degree in dogs causes a change in the oxygen carrying ability of the haemoglobin in red blood cells – this results in the change in colour of the gums. The pet then breathes faster to try and get more oxygen. Unfortunately it is quite possible that pets can die at this stage even with emergency veterinary treatment.

Panadol toxicity can also result in severe liver damage with the possibility of signs taking over a week to become apparent – both of our cats have had multiple blood tests to check liver function with both having normal results so far. ‘Charlie’ and ‘Max’ seem to have fully recovered from their ordeal and are back at home enjoying their normal lives…

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