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Can Dogs Take Ibuprofen?

Can Dogs Take Ibuprofen?

Author WDF Staff

05.05.2021.


From the moment we start feeling even the slightest pain, our mind goes straight to - ibuprofen. We know it is not the best practice in the world, but there is nothing worse than being in pain. Humans take ibuprofen for all sorts of pains; arthritic, headaches, toothaches, or just a simple muscle strain. It is a relatively cheap and effective way to deal with pain.

When our dog is in pain, it is natural to want to help them, and some owners think about giving their dogs pills that help humans deal with pain. Before you do that and share an Advil or Nuprin with your dog, make sure you know the answer to the question, “Can dogs take ibuprofen?” Here is what you should know about dogs and ibuprofen.

What is ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is the active ingredient in different pain medications. It falls under the category of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. It is a common drug that helps with different types of pains. Ibuprofen is one of three common NSAIDs used in humans, and the other two are naproxen and aspirin. These are over-the-counter medications and are present in many American households. Some of the better-known medications based on ibuprofen are;

  • Advil
  • Midol
  • Motrin
  • Nuprin

Another popular pain-relief medication is Tylenol. If you wondered whether dogs can take it, check out this article - Can dogs take Tylenol?

Is ibuprofen safe for dogs?

Ibuprofen is not considered safe for dogs. This medication comes with high toxicity risk, and it is a common reason dogs end up in the pet ER. Dog owners that want to help their dogs with their pain give them the medication they have at home. Unfortunately, they are unaware of the potential risks and end up poisoning their pet. As a dog owner, there is one rule you should follow - Never give your dog human medication without consulting your vet.

Off-label drug use is common in veterinary medicine. Still, unless you are a licensed veterinarian, you shouldn’t medicate your dog with human drugs. Off-label use is a term that describes using the medication differently than what the manufacturer intended. It is common, but you shouldn’t do it alone. 

Why is ibuprofen risky for dogs?

Ibuprofen has a specific effect on the body, and that effect is different in humans and dogs. The way ibuprofen deals with pain is that it blocks the activity of the cyclooxygenase enzyme responsible for the body’s pain, inflammatory, and fever reactions. Ibuprofen will block both cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX1 and COX2).

Both types of these enzymes play different roles in the body. They are both involved in developing pain, inflammation, and fever. This is a natural reaction our and our dog’s bodies have when fighting off things like infections, viruses, or bacteria. However, COX1 plays other essential roles as well. It regulates the blood flow to the kidneys, allows the blood to clot, and develops a thin line of mucus that protects the inner walls of the digestive tract.

Humans are not sensitive to having their cyclooxygenase enzymes blocked, but dogs are. They are prone to ibuprofen toxicity, and even small ibuprofen dosages can have life-threatening consequences. Dogs have a different way of secreting and metabolizing NSAIDs than we do. They are more likely to suffer severe side effects.

Ibuprofen side effects

Whatever medication you are giving to your dog, you should be aware of the potential side effects. This is even more true when it comes to potential ibuprofen side effects in dogs. Most human NSAIDs are associated with these side effects, and they can be fatal for your dog. The most common ibuprofen side effects are;

All of these side effects are very serious. If you think your dog might have gotten in your medicine cabinet and ate a pill of ibuprofen, you should call your vet immediately.

What are the alternatives?

Luckily, big pharmaceutical companies put in plenty of effort in developing drugs that are specifically for dogs. They will block the same enzymes, but other functions these enzymes are responsible for will remain intact. If you can, you should always go for pain relief medications that are for dogs. Some of the best ibuprofen alternatives for dogs are;

  • Carprofen (Rimadyl)
  • Etodolac (EtoGesic)
  • Meloxicam (Metacam)
  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • Firocoxib (Previcox)

Want to know more about helping your dog who is in pain? Check out this article - How to help your dog if they are in pain?

In conclusion

You shouldn’t give ibuprofen to your dog. It is simply too risky, and if you get the dosage wrong, there is a chance you can poison your dog. You can help your dog if they are in pain, but the way to do that is to give them medication that is safe for them to use. Before you give your dog any kind of medication, call your vet and ask for advice.

World Dog Finder team

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