can you give a dog or cat ibuprofen?

Can You Give A Dog or Cat Ibuprofen? | cat looking at ibuprofen pills on the ground
Posted by Jennifer Maniet, DVM on May 07 2020

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever. You may wonder if it’s safe for pets suffering from the same symptoms – the answer is no! Ibuprofen is very toxic to cats and dogs and causes life-threatening illness.

How is ibuprofen toxic to dogs and cats?

When ingested, dogs and cats only experience Ibuprofen’s harmful effects: The medicine blocks certain enzymes that are needed for normal stomach and intestinal functions, blood flow to the kidney and the ability for platelets to form a clot. The Ibuprofen is then broken down and filtered by the liver, but remains in the body for a longer period of time.

Since our pets cannot maintain their normal bodily functions, ibuprofen toxicity leads to: 

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  • stomach ulcers and bleeding
  • kidney injury or failure
  • liver injury or failure
  • neurological problems

Signs of Ibuprofen toxicity

This drug is found in name brands such as Motrin, Advil, and Nuprin. After ingestion, the toxic effects of ibuprofen ingestion may cause your pet to show the following symptoms:

  • vomiting or vomiting blood
  • abnormal appetite
  • abdominal (belly) pain
  • diarrhea
  • black tarry stool or bloody stool
  • polyuria and polydipsia (drinking and urinating more than normal)
  • pale gums
  • lethargy
  • ataxia (stumbling when walking)
  • seizures
  • coma

If you suspect your pet has consumed any Ibuprofen product, it is an emergency! Immediately contact the nearest veterinary hospital or poison control centers such as the Pet Poison Helpline or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Treatment for Ibuprofen toxicity

Ibuprofen toxicity can lead to death and requires prompt veterinary care to give your pet the best chance of recovery. Treatments may include:

  • in-hospital monitoring and intensive nursing care
  • decontamination of the stomach and intestines
  • medications and procedures to protect and reduce the severity of the damage to the stomach, kidneys, central nervous system and liver
  • continued at-home care may also be needed for some cases

How to prevent accidental ingestion of Ibuprofen

Prevention is key and the goal is to minimize the risk of exposure in your home. Follow these tips to keep your pets protected:

  • Never share your over-the-counter or prescription medications with your pets.
  • Keep all medications inside secure, chew-proof containers and store out of reach or even in a separate room from your pets.
  • Take all medications in a separate room from your pets so they don't try to snatch up any fallen pills.

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