Tylenol(®) (also known as paracetamol in some countries) is a common over-the-counter medicine containing the active ingredient acetaminophen. It can be used to relieve pain in dogs or as a treatment for degenerative myelopathy, though the use of the drug in veterinary practice is uncommon. It differs from other popular painkillers such as aspirin in that it does not have strong antiinflammatory properties and does not significantly inhibit platelet function. Extra care must be taken when treating dogs.

For relief of pain caused by arthritic conditions it’s best to use a medicine with stronger antiinflammatory effects such as Previcox.

Recommended Dosage

Note: Because acetaminophen is not commonly used to treat animals information is limited about its safety. For this reason you should talk to your vet to discuss the best possible treatment options before giving Tylenol to your pet.

Before use you should check the medicine’s packaging to see if acetaminophen is the only active ingredient. Some products containing additional ingredients such as codeine can also be used to treat dogs but the dosing may be different. When using medicines containing acetaminophen as the only active ingredient (e.g. the plain Tylenol formula) a dose of 6.8 mg/lb (15 mg/kg) can be given every 8 hours.

Refer to the chart and calculator below to find the right dosage for your dog.

Acetaminophen for dogs dosage chart
Dog’s Weight In Pounds: Dosage In Mg:

If you are using Tylenol No. 4 the dosage should be based on the codeine content. The recommended dosage is 0.5 – 0.9 mg/lb codeine every 6 to 8 hours. This means a dog weighing 60 lbs could be given half of one tablet (30 mg codeine and 150 mg acetaminophen) per dose.

Degenerative Myelopathy: A dose of 2.2 mg/lb may be given to German Shepherds once daily to treat degenerative myelopathy. Do not exceed 9 mg/lb on any day.

Example: A 60 lb dog could be given around 400 mg of acetaminophen per dose, or half of one Tylenol No. 4 tablet.

Is It Safe?

Because the medicine is not often used to treat dogs information about its safety is limited. Based on potential side effects and current information dogs may not be suitable for treatment if they:

  • Had surgery within the past 24 hours
  • Have liver or kidney problems
  • Have blood clotting disorders
  • Have gastrointestinal ulcers

Dogs may be unsuitable for treatment with products containing codeine if they have:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Addison’s disease
  • Poor kidney function
  • Been given MAOIs (monamine oxidase inhibitors)
  • Head injuries or intracranial pressure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Colic

Pregnant and nursing animals may also be unsuitable for treatment, please seek the advice of a vet if your dog is pregnant or nursing.

Guidelines For Use

For safe treatment with this medicine we recommend following these guidelines:

  • Always seek the approval of a vet before medicating your dog
  • Tell the vet about any medical conditions affecting your pet
  • Stick to the dosage and dosing frequency recommended by your vet
  • Tell the vet about any other medicines or supplements your pet is taking
  • For longer-term treatment monitoring of the kidneys, liver and blood is advised
  • Store securely out of reach from pets, especially cats and ferrets

It’s also a good idea to explore all other treatment options with your vet.

What Is It Used For?

Acetaminophen can be used to:

  • Relieve pain
  • Treat degenerative myelopathy in German Shepherds

Products containing the added ingredient codeine may help with coughing, diarrhea and provide mild pain relief effects.

Side Effects

Plain Tylenol formulations may produce unwanted liver, kidney, gastrointestinal or blood-related effects though there is limited data at this time. Products containing codeine may cause:

  • Sedation
  • Constipation
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting

Respiratory effects are also possible when codeine is given at high doses, or when dogs are prone to respiratory problems.


Overdoses of this medicine can be dangerous. If your dog has ingested an overdose please immediately call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline on (888) 426-4435.


Dr. Hardie
Dr. McLaughlin
Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook (sixth edition)