Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that humans use for body aches, general pain, fever, and more. Ibuprofen, commonly referred to as NSAID (pronounced with the letter n-said), is also known by name brands such as Motrin® (McNeil), Advil® (Whitehall-Robins), Haltran® (Lee Pharmaceutical), Midol® (Bayer), Menadol® (Rugby), PediaCare (Pharmacia & Upjohn), as well as various generic forms.
While it is safe for humans to consume, it can be harmful to dogs.
Why is Ibuprofen Toxic to Dogs?
Ibuprofen has a narrow margin of safety in dogs. Signs of toxicosis can occur when as little as half a 200 mg pill is given to a 25-pound dog. The most common cause of ibuprofen toxicity is a well-meaning owner who administers the medication to their dog to alleviate the pet’s pain.
What Are the Signs of Ibuprofen Toxicity?
In as little as 12 hours, signs of toxicity can begin to appear. Signs include the pet not eating, vomiting, black tarry stools, abdominal pain, weakness, lethargy, increased thirst, and increased urination.
The initial toxic effect is bleeding stomach ulcers, followed by kidney failure; if left untreated, it can be fatal.
How Does a Veterinarian Diagnose Ibuprofen Toxicity?
The diagnosis is generally based on obtaining a history of access or exposure to ibuprofen, a physical exam, and blood tests. If ibuprofen was ingested, blood tests may reveal anemia from a bleeding ulcer or abnormalities secondary to kidney damage.
How is Ibuprofen Toxicity Treated?
Treatment depends on the dose ingested and clinical signs. Veterinary care can include hospitalization with continuous intravenous fluids for 1-2 days. All steroids and NSAIDs need to be discontinued immediately. Activated charcoal may be given if ingestion was recent (less than two hours). Blood transfusion can be recommended in dogs with severe anemia due to bleeding ulcers. In addition, stomach-protecting medications are commonly given.
How Do You Prevent Ibuprofen Toxicity?
If your dog appears to be in pain, talk with your family veterinarian who may be able to prescribe your dog a pet safe NSAID such as Dermaxx (also known as Deracoxib), Rimadyl (also known as Carprofen), or Previcox (also known as Firocoxib.). Do not give your dog any medication that is not prescribed by a veterinarian.
If you think your dog or cat has ingested any ibuprofen, call the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-764-7661 and your family veterinarian immediately. They will be able to provide life-saving advice and treatment for your pet. If your family veterinarian is unavailable, take your pet to the nearest MedVet or emergency veterinarian.