Can you give aspirin or paracetamol to your cat?

can. you give paracetamol to your cat
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Does your cat seem a little woozy, feverish, or complaining of pain? You rummage through your medicine cabinet looking for medicine to give him.

Do not give your animal certain medication thinking it will relieve him. It is strictly prohibited to do as a self-medication.. For what reasons? Are paracetamol or aspirin affected? We are taking stock of this case.

The toxicity of paracetamol in cats

Widely used in humans as an analgesic and antipyretic, paracetamol, or acetaminophen is the best-selling molecule in the world, found in France in Dafalgan®, Efferalgan®, or the famous Doliprane®. Can be prescribed to almost all populations, it, therefore, presents no major concern… For humans. On the other hand, it is highly toxic in domestic animals, dogs, and especially cats. 

In the case of the first, an enzyme located in the liver, making it possible to transform this active ingredient, derive its benefits, and then eliminate it, is not very present. However, it is completely absent in cats .. Its sensitivity to paracetamol is therefore very high. During ingestion (voluntary or accidental), the molecule accumulates in the liver and triggers a chain reaction that destroys its cells, which prevents the proper functioning of this organ. 

This phenomenon is called hepatic encephalitis. In addition, paracetamol then reaches the cat’s blood by modifying the hemoglobin (a protein that carries oxygen) contained in the red blood cells. This is called methemoglobinization, which causes a brown color in the blood and is a major problem for the transport of oxygen. The shock resulting from taking paracetamol is in fact both at the hepatic and blood levels .for the cat. It intervenes in only a few hours, following an absorption, even in minimal quantity. Paracetamol should therefore never be administered to cats.

Aspirin toxicity in cats

Aspirin, from its scientific name acetylsalicylic acid, embodies one of the oldest drugs, among nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It also has analgesic and antipyretic properties, while helping to thin the blood. It is found in Alka-seltzer®, Aspégic® or Juvépirine®. 

The cat is also particularly sensitive to it, even if the intoxication is not systematic as in the case of paracetamol. Used as an anti-inflammatory in cats, aspirin actually decreases the protection of the stomach against acidity, as well as blood circulation in the kidneys. 

These side effects are again the consequence of the lack of liver enzymes suitable for assimilation and degradation in the feline body. However, you should know that the veterinarian can prescribe aspirin to the cat in certain cases, generally to limit blood clots in the vessels, for example in the case of venous thrombosis or a heart problem. There is therefore no problem here in administering an aspirin-based treatment to your small animal, provided that you respect the indicated dosage. Self-medication, on the other hand, is absolute to be banned, as the tolerance thresholds are not the same in cats as in humans: the lethal dose is thus set at 25mg per kilo of body mass in felines.

What are the symptoms of paracetamol or aspirin poisoning in cats?

Symptoms are extremely varied and depend on the amount of medication ingested, age, breed, size, sex, or weight of the cat. Nevertheless, here are those that are most frequently found, and in their order of appearance:

  • Digestive disorders: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or digestive bleeding (black stools or stools with traces of blood)
  • Decreased blood clotting, resulting in lethargy or prostration, and pale mucous membranes (eyes, gums, etc.)
  • Cardio-respiratory disorders: hyperpnea (increased range of respiratory motion)
  • Increase in body temperature

They can appear as a result of ingesting the product, such as several hours later, or even a day later. Loss of appetite, for example, is typical and should absolutely lead to the consultation if it is accompanied by other signs. Moreover, if the intoxication is strong or persists over several days, renal or hepatic damage can be observed. 

The central nervous system is then affected, leading to coordination disorders, hyperesthesia (pathological exaggeration of the senses), nystagmus (uncontrolled eye movement), or convulsions. Finally, these untreated symptoms can lead to coma or even death of the animal.

What should I do if my cat has swallowed paracetamol or aspirin?

The taking of aspirin or paracetamol by the cat can result from an error on the part of the master who wanted to treat his animal, as from an accident: bottle or plate of tablets left unattended, theft, or pilferage… It is then a question of reacting as quickly as possible, even if you will not always have the chance to catch your animal in the act.

The veterinary emergency

The first thing to do will therefore be to call your veterinarian, or depending on the moment, the veterinarian on duty. You can also contact the Veterinary Poison Control Centre, open every day from 8:30 a.m. to midnight for any telephone request concerning the poisoning of domestic or wild animals. The professional may recommend that you induce vomiting or give your cat activated charcoal, then bring it to the clinic. It is very important to wait for this advice before administering any remedy to your animal, otherwise, the situation will worsen.

If an antidote exists for paracetamol poisoning (N-Acetyl-Cysteine), there is none for that concerning aspirin. In both cases, the veterinarian most often proposes hospitalization, allowing the cat to be put on a drip and constantly monitored. The care provided is actually essential to cleanse the body, protect the organs and support vital functions. The treatments are varied: voluntary vomiting, transfusion, hepatic and renal protectors, analgesics, antibiotics, urinary acidifiers, gastrointestinal dressings, respiratory assistance… They are chosen and given according to the symptoms and the degree of intoxication. Also, consider, and if possible, bring the packaging of the drug ingested to the veterinarian so that he can know the exact composition to establish his diagnosis.

The right things to do

As you will have understood, you should never give paracetamol or aspirin, any more than ibuprofen, to your cat, without the advice or prescription of a veterinarian. This animal health professional remains the only one who can possibly judge the need to administer these drugs with dangerous or even fatal side effects. Also always respect the prescribed doses. Veterinary pharmacopeia has many drugs adapted or specially formulated for animals.

The rule of thumb then is to keep all medication out of your pet’s reach. So remember to store everything up high, in a cupboard or drawer that closes, as well as not to leave your tablet packs lying around unattended. Likewise, if you drop a pill or a capsule, pick them up systematically. While it’s true that cats are generally warier than dogs when it comes to food, and they rarely swallow anything by mistake, accidents do happen quickly. In addition, remain particularly vigilant and move your cat away if necessary during your time of taking medication.

Finally, if in doubt about an unusual symptom in your little companion, do not hesitate to make an appointment for a visit to the veterinarian. Prevention is better than cure!

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