Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Common Household Pain Relievers Could be Harmful to Your Pet

    This is an account of our lab technician John Whitehead’s astute observation.  An old cat had been sick for several days when it was brought to us for treatment.  When first examined I did not know what was wrong, with the cat but John, during the blood count, noticed microscopic bumps on red blood cells.  He identified the bumps as Heinz bodies a degenerative change of red blood cells caused by cats eating onions or being treated with Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol, which is often used by people with headaches and other feel-bad conditions.  Heinz bodies results in anemia, illness, and even death.  When John told me of his findings he jogged my memory.  Two weeks earlier an article in a veterinary medical journal reported treating a cat with Acetaminophen poisoning by giving it acetylcysteine.  This was new information to me so right then I ordered an ounce of the chemical just in case it might be needed.
            To keep the cat alive, we had been treating it with intravenous fluids containing nutrients.  Although there was no precedent for doing so we dissolved some acetylcysteine in the intravenous fluids the cat was to receive the following two days.  That old cat gradually improved, recovered, and was sent home.
            A problem veterinarians encounter develops when an owner self-treats a puppy sick with parvovirus infection using Acetaminophen.  This stuff can and does kill pups by injuring the liver and results in sick pups that are difficult for veterinarians to diagnose and treat.  Use of Acetaminophen by owners who treat sick pups themselves may be one reason many of these people think that parvo pups die in spite of treatment.  Actually, most parvo pups survive if properly treated by a veterinarian.
 The point of the story is to urge you to not give sick animals human medicines.  If you do, be sure to tell your veterinarian so he can account for the drug’s toxicity while studying the pet’s illness and can treat it accordingly.

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