flurbiprofen toxicity in cats

Flurbiprofen Toxicity In Cats | cat laying in bathroom sink next to medicines
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Apr 21 2015

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) sounded the alarm bell for human topical prescription medications that are used for pain and contain the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) flurbiprofen. These medications are rubbed onto human skin to treat muscle and joint pain and other neuropathies. In addition to the anti-inflammatory flurbiprofen, they also may contain other prescription drugs such as gabapentin and lidocaine to help stave off pain.

But, in the world of veterinary medicine, this human topical medication can be deadly. That’s because dogs and cats just don’t process NSAIDs like humans do. Cats especially are very susceptible to flurbiprofen toxicity, and that’s why the FDA wants you to know about how your medication can affect your four-legged family members.

How does flurbiprofen affect cats?

Flurbiprofen may ease your muscle pain, but it can cause severe illness and death in your cats. Now, I know what you’re thinking—why would anyone rub their medications onto their cat, and what cat would stand for that anyway? Sadly, that’s not how illnesses are occurring in these patients. Cats are being sickened just by having contact with areas of their owner’s skin where the medications were applied. In one case, a cat ingested tissues that her owner used to wipe her hands after application. Cats are just THAT sensitive.

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Symptoms and treatment

So, how bad can the illness be? Unfortunately, it is bad. Really bad. NSAID toxicity sends pets into kidney failure and causes gastrointestinal ulcers that are so severe that they can lead to stomach and bowel perforations. Inappetence, increased water intake and urine output, lethargy, vomiting, and bloody stool are all signs of potential exposure.

Even despite aggressive treatment, some cats will succumb to the negative effects of topical flurbiprofen.

Is flurbiprofen toxic to dogs?

At this time, the FDA is not including dogs and other pets in the warning, but that doesn’t mean that you can relax about this medication if you live in a cat-free zone. Non-feline pets can still be negatively affected by exposure, but the FDA has yet to receive a report of illness in dogs or other pets.

If you use this medication to treat your pain, be very, very careful about how you do so. Ask your doctor if the area you are treating can be covered, and if so, cover it every single time. Store your medication well out of the reach of your pets, and secure anything you use to apply the medication in a covered trash can out of your pet’s reach.

For pet owners who have lost a cat because of accidental exposure to their prescription medications, grief is compounded by guilt. Please be vigilant for your entire family’s sake.

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