Giving aspirin to cats
With the strains of an economic slowdown in our country, as well as the increasing cost of veterinary exams, many animal guardians are often looking to their own medicine cabinets to help ease discomfort in their dogs and cats. And while it is always important for an animal guardian to check with their local veterinarian before administering any over the counter medication at home, this is extremely critical for cat owners who often don’t realize that cats are unique in how they metabolize medications. This means that some medications, while normally well tolerated by humans or dogs, can cause health and life threatening consequences in our feline friends.
This is especially true when it comes to the pain relievers aspirin and Tylenol. Because of unique liver metabolism, cats do not handle aspirin very well if given at high doses, and even one adult Tylenol tablet (325 to 500 mg) could be lethal and deadly to cats. Even minimal levels of exposure to Tylenol can quickly cause depression, vomiting, difficulty breathing, brown discoloration of the gums, respiratory distress, and swelling of the paws and face.
Fulminant liver failure can occur with even minimal dosages. If you’ve made the mistake of giving your cat ANY Tylenol and/or your cat has been given aspirin that causes some of these symptoms, immediate and emergency medical attention is needed. In fact, to demonstrate how sensitive cats are to these nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, when cardiologists prescribe aspirin to cats with certain types of heart disease, it’s at the reduced dose of one half baby aspirin every second to third day.
The take home point of this blog post is to never self medicate your cat at home, unless you FIRST check with your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary facility. Interestingly, one of my favorite all time antioxidant supplements Proanthozone, has actually been shown to reduce Tylenol damage to cats who have been exposed. Proanthozone has a wide variety of usages in dogs and cats including as anti-inflammatory, as well as pain reducer. Many of our feline friends can be given dramatic pain relief with safe nutritional supplements such as Yucca Intensive and Cosequin for Cats. However, as in the case with any supplements, I always recommend feline guardians consult with their veterinarians before administering any over the counter supplements or medications.