Ibuprofen is one of the most commonly purchased pain medications available over the counter. Most homes have a steady supply of ibuprofen lurking in bathroom medicine cabinets and tucked inside purses. No matter how much you think your dog could benefit from ibuprofen, it just isn’t true. Whether your dog is limping or suffering from arthritis, ibuprofen is never the answer.
So, Is Ibuprofen Safe for Dogs?
No, ibuprofen is never safe for dogs under any circumstance. In fact, it’s actually deadly, even in small amounts. Even if you’re giving it to treat pain in your dog, its risks far outweigh any of its perceived benefits.
Is Ibuprofen Bad for Dogs?
Ibuprofen is more than bad for dogs; it’s deadly. Small doses of ibuprofen can have severe effects on your dog. You’ve probably been warned by your doctor about the effect too much ibuprofen has on your stomach. Ibuprofen is very hard on the stomach when given in large, frequent doses, but even a small, one-time dose will wreck havoc on your dog’s stomach.
The side effects your dog experiences depends on how much ibuprofen they’ve ingested. Lower doses around 25-125 milligrams per kilogram of body weight cause symptoms that are more gastrointestinal in nature. Your dog will have vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and a lack of appetite. Many dogs will have bloody vomit or black, tarry stool, which indicates a bleed somewhere in the GI tract, usually in the stomach.
If your dog has eaten more than 175 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, the side effects will start to become more aggressive. Organ damage starts to occur at doses this high. Ibuprofen blocks the blood flow in the kidneys, resulting in tissue death in the organs. Kidney damage is not reversible, so it’s very important that your dog is treated immediately for ibuprofen ingestion. Signs of renal failure include increased and excessive thirst, increased urination, and a decrease in urine output.
Doses higher than 400 mg/kg cause neurological effects like seizures, muscle tremors, neurological depression, and coma. A dose greater than 600 mg/kg is fatal.
Pain Relief for Dogs
There are numerous safe and effective pain meds available for dogs. Unfortunately, they aren’t available over-the-counter and you have to see your vet to get the drugs. This may seem like an inconvenience, but it’s actually less work to schedule an appointment with the vet than it is to have your pet hospitalized for kidney or liver failure.
Some sources say that baby aspirin is a good temporary fix for minor pain, but even a slight miscalculation in dosage can be a big risk for your dog. You should always have pain diagnosed by your veterinarian to ensure the medication being prescribed does more good than harm. Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx, and Previcox are all safe, very effective drugs for dogs of all sizes and ages.
Treatment for Ibuprofen Toxicity in Dogs
Dogs that aren’t showing any symptoms can have vomiting induced as long as it’s within two hours of ingestion. Dogs that are showing neurological symptoms should not have vomiting induced, so your vet may recommend pumping their stomach instead. To prevent the drug from recirculating through the liver, activated charcoal is administered every six to eight hours for a full 24 hours.
Treatment is tailored to the symptoms your dog is experiencing. Gastric symptoms will be treated with GI protectants and anti-acids. Dogs with neurological signs or symptoms of organ damage will require IV fluids to flush the body of any remaining medication. Bloodwork will be performed to determine how severely the organs are affected and what additional treatment is required. Dogs with seizures will need more intensive hospitalization and administration of anti-seizure drugs. Once your dog is released from the clinic, your vet will recommend follow up blood panels to assess how severe the damage is and what follow-up treatment is involved.
With so many dog-specific drugs available through your vet, there’s never any reason to give your dog ibuprofen. As it is, ibuprofen isn’t effective at canine pain management anyways, so you may think you’re treating their pain but all that’s occurring is organ damage. To keep your dog safe and healthy, always consult with your vet about a proper pain diagnosis and prescription. Taking the time to make an hour-long vet appointment will make the difference in how long your dog lives, and that’s pretty important, isn’t it?