“Can dogs have ibuprofen?” You probably ask this question if you want to relieve your dog’s minor aches and pains. Humans use over-the-counter ibuprofen to treat pain, but can you give it to your dog?
The short answer to that question is no, you cannot give ibuprofen to your dog unless your veterinarian specifically instructs you to do so. This includes brand names of ibuprofen, such as Advil, Motrin, and Midol.
This drug is highly toxic to dogs and can easily cause poisoning. Veterinarians rarely recommend it due to the high potential for disastrous side effects or even death.
Here’s what you should know about ibuprofen when it comes to dogs.
How Is Ibuprofen Bad For Dogs?
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that inhibits enzymes that produce prostaglandins, which contribute to inflammation.
Reducing inflammation helps treat pain symptoms, but prostaglandins are also important for maintaining other important bodily functions, like enabling blood flow to the kidneys, protecting gastrointestinal lining, and aiding normal blood clotting.
The medication may interfere with these bodily functions, which can be fatal for dogs. Even low doses can poison and sometimes kill dogs.
When other pain killers fail, vets may, on rare occasions, prescribe some form of ibuprofen, but the difference between a safe dose and a deadly dose is narrow. You should never give it to your dog without being specifically told to do so by your vet.
If you have over-the-counter ibuprofen drugs in your home, like Advil, Motrin, or Midol, store them in a place where your dog absolutely cannot get to them.
Here are a few of the potentially life-threatening symptoms that dogs can suffer from if they accidentally take ibuprofen:
- Kidney failure
- Stomach ulcers
- Intestinal perforations
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Neurological problems (seizures, coma, loss of coordination, etc.)
Is Ibuprofen Ever Good For Dogs?
While there is, technically, a low dose of ibuprofen that may be safe for some dogs, the chance of overdose is so high that vets almost always prescribe other, safer pain-killers.
They only prescribe ibuprofen if other pain killers fail or cause complications. Even then, it is rare for vets to prescribe it.
Dogs should almost never be given ibuprofen to treat minor pain because of the risks, and it isn’t a good solution to manage chronic pain, either, as the risk of life-threatening complications gets even higher with long-term exposure.
Arthritis and other chronic conditions are usually managed with other forms of drug and non-drug therapy. There are many more appropriate solutions for treating pain in dogs.
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Ibuprofen?
If your dog accidentally eats ibuprofen, you must act quickly. It gets absorbed into the bloodstream within minutes, and even one pill may poison some dogs. A larger dose can cause kidney failure and result in death.
Call an emergency veterinarian right away if your dog eats ibuprofen. If you can’t contact an emergency veterinarian for some reason, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline at (888) 426-4435. They may charge you for using this service, but it could be the difference between life and death for your dog. The hotline is available all day, every day.
The vet may give you instructions on how to induce vomiting, possibly with hydrogen peroxide, if your dog has swallowed ibuprofen within the last few minutes. They may tell you to give your dog activated charcoal to absorb some of the drug.
Even if your dog vomits up the medication, you should still take your dog to the emergency veterinarian as soon as you possibly can.
Here are a few signs of ibuprofen poisoning in dogs:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Blood in stool
- Blood in vomit
- Dry eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in thirst or urination
- Loss of coordination
What Are Alternatives To Ibuprofen That Are Safe For Dogs?
There are many medications and forms of therapy that are safer and more effective than ibuprofen for treating pain in dogs. The best treatment will likely depend on the type of pain or condition that affects your dog.
Rimadyl, Etodolac, and Meloxicam are three medications vets often prescribe to treat pain. Vets sometimes prescribe Gabapentin, Prednisone, or Tramadol, too. Some over-the-counter pain medications are formulated to treat minor pain symptoms in dogs, but always ask your veterinarian before giving your dog any drugs.
Acupuncture, hydrotherapy, massage, weight control, exercise, and dietary changes can all help treat chronic painful conditions, such as arthritis, in dogs. Foods and supplements can help reduce pain from arthritis, too, including fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and turmeric.
Discuss these options with your vet if your dog needs long-term treatment for a painful condition.
How do you treat your dog for minor aches and pains? What medications has your vet prescribed for pain management? Let us know in the comments below!