Thanks to Leean, Mom to Dahlila and the rest of the Wisconsin gang, for nudging me about this article from the ASPCA about a family and a cat that learned the hard way the dangers of acetaminophen. This article came from the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center page on their site.
No one needs to tell Beth Tucker of Syracuse, New York how harmful acetaminophen can be to pets. In February 2006, Beth Tuckers cat, Scooter ingested a 500 milligram acetaminophen tablet that had been accidentally dropped on the floor. Scooter was very quick; she had the fastest paws Ive ever seen,” says Beth. She would grab something out of your hand before you even knew it was gone.” Despite treatment efforts by a local veterinarian, Scooter unfortunately did not recover. She suffered tremendously for five days as we tried to save her,” Beth explains. We finally made the extremely painful decision to end her suffering and euthanized her.” Beth says in sharing her story with other pet owners, she was astounded by the number of folks that knew nothing about the toxic potential of this medication to animals.
Scooter, a beautiful grey domestic medium-haired cat (with a white line around her neck that made her appear as if she was wearing a turtleneck), was so named because of her tendency to scoot” around the house chasing objects, is one of many cats to have succumbed to accidental acetaminophen poisoning. In 2005, The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center handled close to 300 cases from around the country involving pet ingestions of acetaminophen, a common drug used to relieve pain and fever in humans.
The drug can indeed be toxic to cats, dogs and other pets, with as little as one extra-strength tablet causing fatal consequences to an average sized cat. Depending on the amount ingested, clinical effects can include a condition called methemoglobinemia, which affects blood cells ability to carry oxygen to vital organs,” says Dana Farbman, CVT, spokesperson for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. In addition, liver damage and even death could result. Cats are especially sensitive to acetaminophen toxicity,” says Farbman, first because they lack a specific enzyme that enables the body to metabolize it well, and second, cats are typically more susceptible to red blood cell damage than certain other species of animals.” The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center cautions that pet owners should never give this or any other medication to their animal without first talking with a veterinarian, and should always store potentially poisonous substances in a secure cabinet above the countertop and out of the reach of pets.
Beth Tucker and her family continue to miss Scooters presence each day. She was the most loving kitty in the world,” remembers Beth. And every evening at 5 p.m. if you were anywhere near the kitchen, you could count on Scooter meowing for her nightly treat. She was very vocal, and would meow at the door whenever my husband would come home from work.” Beth Tucker hopes that by sharing Scooters experience, she will help educate other pet owners about the toxic potential of acetaminophen, so that they can avoid having to go through the anguish that she suffered by losing her feline companion. I feel that telling what happened to Scooter will help make something positive come from our tremendous loss.”
For more information on acetaminophen and other potential hazards in the home, visit the ASPCA site.