Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Aspirins are some of the most common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that doctors commonly prescribe to ease pain, eliminate fever, and fight inflammation in humans. Together with acetaminophen (branded as Tylenol), these drugs are very effective, and you won’t give it a second thought to get them over-the-counter or from the medicine cabinet for short-term pain relief.
However, being effective and tolerant to the human body doesn’t mean they are safe to give dogs. These pain medications may expose your canine to serious side effects, considering the significant and vital variation in human and dog biology. I bet you don’t want to risk the life of, or even worse, lose your beautiful puppy. As a result, desist from medicating your pup without the directive of your veterinarian.
Can I Give My Dog Ibuprofen?
The short answer is no. Dogs should not take any human medication unless your veterinarian approves or directs you to administer the medicines, although on infrequent occasions and in small doses. Dogs, especially young puppies and even cats, don’t have the enzymes to help in processing ibuprofen. Thus, medicating your pet using this drug may lead to severe side effects, including renal or kidney failure or even death.
Many good-willing homeowners have ended up hurting their favorite pets by offering human medications to relieve their dogs in pain.
What to do when the dog is in Pain
Pet owners often lose their cool the moment they see signs of pain in the dogs. Usually, you care for your furry friend, and you want it to feel better. However, self-medicating the canine may expose it to more harm than good. Here are some steps to take at that moment.
Consult your Veterinarian
The first and crucial step to take when you notice your dog in pain is to contact your veterinarian. Depending on your dog’s pain and medical history, your vet may prescribe canine-safe pain medication or advise you if low-dose ibuprofen could help your pet feel better.
Consider the Joint Supplements
Sometimes medication isn’t the only solution for pain management. Talk to your veterinarian about the available supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. These supplements are safer and may provide moderate pain relief to your dog.
Boost Your Dog’s Comfort
Make the Room Comfortable Warm or Cold
Pain in dogs may sometimes cause them to be more sensitive to temperatures in their surroundings. Similarly, the comfort of a heating pad set low may be good therapy for aches and pains, especially if your dog is suffering from chronic conditions like arthritis.
Again, you may consider ice packs to reduce inflammation and also pace up the healing process. While these techniques are generally safe, you may need to consult with your veterinarian to establish whether they can help your dog’s pain and if heat- or cold therapy is the ideal action.
Consider Alternative Pain Management Regimens
There are several canine-friendly medications that you can give your dog for pain. However, each treatment regimen has its share of side effects, ranging from mild to severe. As a result, it’s essential to be careful when seeking such options. Even better, consult your vet before commencing any treatment to a dog in pain.
What about Other Pain Medications?
Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin and naproxen, are common medications people often talk of when seeking relief from pain and inflammation. Though not part of the NSAIDs family, Acetaminophen also falls in the category of common pain relievers for humans. But are they safe to give dogs?
Veterinarians occasionally prescribe it to dogs. Like ibuprofen, aspirin offers pain relief and reduces inflammation but also puts your dog at the risk of suffering seizures and gastrointestinal complications. As a result, only give your dog the medicine under strict adherence to a vet’s instructions. Similarly, small puppies and cats don’t tolerate the drug as they lack the enzymes required to process the medication in their systems.
Thus, even a small dose of aspirin may be toxic to them. Ensure that you use the medicine correctly and on the proper dosage, even for older dogs. Also, consider giving aspirin with food since administering the drug without meals may increase the chances of your dog developing stomach ulcers.
Acetaminophen, sold under the Tylenol brand, is another OTC medication that humans won’t give a second thought before grabbing from the medicine cabinet to relieve pains. Veterinarians may (on rare occasions) prescribe the drug to ease pain in dogs. However, it comes with serious side effects, too, like aspirin and ibuprofen. As a result, only give your dog acetaminophen if it’s a veterinarian’s directive and adhere to the administration instructions.
Your dog might be pretty tolerant of this human pain medication. For instance, a 20 kg dog may swallow up to seven 500mg tablets of human paracetamol to start suffering complications. However, don’t give your dog without your vet’s directive. If you overdose on your dog, the drug may cause severe liver and red blood cell damages.
On the other hand, there’s a veterinary formulation of paracetamol that can be safe for your dog, and your vet may recommend it under some circumstances. While it’s safe, you still need to contact your veterinarian to approve its use and adhere to your vet’s instructions. Also, report any cases of drooling, dullness, vomiting, tummy pains, and breathing difficulties that occur with the drug’s use.
Prescription Pain Medications
Your vet may recommend opioid-based prescription-only medications, such as tramadol, to your dog for pain relief. These pain relievers are often more potent than OTC medications, hence only allowed on a prescription-only basis in the USA. If your dog receives such prescriptions, adhere to the instructions and report any irregular reactions to your vet.
What if My Dog Eats Ibuprofen?
There’s no serious cause for alarm if your dog eats a small quantity of ibuprofen, especially under your vet’s supervision. You’ll only need to look out for the reactions and report any irregularity to your vet for certainty.
Small portions of ibuprofen may lead to relatively mild symptoms, including gastrointestinal complications and stomach pains. Sometimes the dog may vomit profusely or stop eating. However, higher doses of ibuprofen may cause more severe complications, including seizure, heart rhythm abnormalities, renal failure, or kidney failure. In relatively high dosages, your dog may die.
Even under prescription, using ibuprofen in the long term may cause health problems to both dogs and humans. For instance, intestinal perforations and ulcers may arise on prolonged use.
Similarly, be cautious when using ibuprofen on young puppies, dogs with underlying health conditions, or older canines since they react more seriously to the pain medications than the others. The same applies to dogs that are taking other drugs and therapies. Unless your vet approves, keep these groups safe from ibuprofen. Also, inform your veterinarian about your dog’s medical history before commencing the treatment.
What is The Right Ibuprofen Dosage for My Dog?
The Merck Veterinary Manual notes that the recommended dosage for ibuprofen is 5mg per kilogram of a dog’s body weight. In that case, your dog may face acute problems by taking a 100 mg dosage per kilogram. The issues become more severe, with renal failure being a concern for doses exceeding 175mg per kilogram. Similarly, your dog’s central nervous system may be at risk with over 400mg doses, while more than 600mg per kilogram may cause your pet’s death.
What if My Dog Eats Ibuprofen Accidentally?
If your dog eats ibuprofen without your knowledge, the first step to take is to talk to your veterinarian and explain the situation.
A veterinarian will decide if you need to wait and see the dog’s reaction or if there’s a need to bring your pup to the clinic for a check-up. Similarly, you may consider reaching out to the pet poison control hotline if you prefer. You will be charged for the services, but you’re sure to find assistance regardless of time or day.
Sometimes such emergencies come at a time out of regular business hours. If that’s the case, consider seeking help from an emergency animal hospital.
Signs and Symptoms of Ibuprofen Toxicity
The severity of ibuprofen toxicity depends on the amount of the drug your dog takes. The higher the quantity, the more serious the effects, and the initial signs may start to show up from 2-6 hours, with more severe implications manifesting after 4-5 days. Some of the symptoms to look out for ibuprofen toxicity include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased saliva production
- Melena (black, tarry stool)
- Abdominal pains
How To Treat Ibuprofen Poisoning
Most dogs will start vomiting at the initial stages of ibuprofen poisoning, or your vet may induce vomiting if your dog isn’t retching and it recently consumed the medicine. The vet may also consider gastric lavage (pumping dog’s stomach) if the dog is having neurological complications.
Once your dog’s stomach has emptied most of the medicine, your vet may administer activated charcoal to engross any toxins left. Dogs may need the charcoal medication every 6 to 8 hours to absorb any unsafe substances that your dog’s liver and kidneys release afterward.
Ibuprofen poisoning often causes kidney damage. As a result, your vet may administer intravenous fluids during the treatment to dilute the toxins. Similarly, your dog may also receive additional medications to protect the stomach lining and regulate vomiting. Other dogs may also require more drugs to restore appropriate body temperatures and control seizures.
Dogs, like humans, have emotions and feel pain too. The only difference is that, unlike people, dogs try to hide the signs of their pain since a sign of weakness may mean you are a perfect meal to predators in nature. As a result, your dog may appear strong, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering.
What Can I Give a Dog for Pain Relief?
Several FDA-approved OTC medications can ease your dog’s pain. However, it’s not recommendable to medicate your dog without the vet’s instructions.
How Much Ibuprofen Can I Give My Dog?
Merck Veterinary Manual notes that the correct dosage range for ibuprofen is 5mg per one kilogram of a dog’s body weight. However, even the low dosages may sometimes be harmful to young puppies, dogs with underlying conditions, or those on other medications. Consult with your vet before starting any medicine.
Can I Give My Dog Tylenol For Pain?
Tylenol is generally toxic to dogs. However, veterinarians may consider it on infrequent occasions and in some circumstances. You shouldn’t give a dog Tylenol unless your veterinarian approves or prescribes it. Even at that adhere to the administration instructions religiously.
How Can I Comfort My Dog in Pain?
Consult with your veterinarian if heat- or cold-therapies can soothe your dog’s pain. You may also consider getting an orthopedic bed that’s conducive for your arthritic dog or add some extra blankets in its kennel.