Can I Give My Dog Ibuprofen? (Warning!) | Herepup
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Can I Give My Dog Ibuprofen? (Warning!)

Your dog is in pain. As a pet owner, you'll want to do whatever you can to help stave off his discomfort. You may be tempted to administer Ibuprofen to your pooch, since it is such an effective way to help you combat aches and pains. But should you?

Ibuprofen Can Be Dangerous for Dogs

You should never give your dog Ibuprofen for pain. While it works wonders for your joint pain, headaches, or inflammation, it can spell big trouble for your beloved doggie. Even though some people may claim Ibuprofen is perfectly fine for a pooch if it's administered in small doses, it's advisable not to take a chance.

Ibuprofen’s poisonous nature toward the canine set can cause some serious symptoms to manifest. Some of these issues could include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, and loss of appetite. In the case of massive ingestions, seizures, and even death could be on the table.

NSAIDs – the Somewhat Complicated Culprit

The reason Ibuprofen poses such a threat to pooches is because it is considered nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAIDs. This classification consists of pretty much any type of over-the-counter pain reliever you can think of, from Ibuprofen to aspirin.

NSAIDs work by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. This complex-looking word is charged with producing the signals that promote pain and inflammation. On the surface, NSAIDs will do the same anti-inflammatory tactics to dogs that they do to people.

However, NSAIDs promote certain side effects that could prove dangerous to dogs. Specifically, these side effects lead to a reduction of proper blood flow to the kidneys and a lowering the protective coat of mucus that lines a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. These dual reductions can cause the aforementioned symptoms to manifest.

Here’s where things get complicated. On paper, NSAIDs aren’t necessarily the poison that some people make it out to be. As mentioned above, they can bring relief to a pooch in certain scenarios, such as if he’s on the mend from surgery or if he has a chronic pain-related issue, such as arthritis.

However, the reason why an NSAID like Ibuprofen is dangerous and potentially deadly for dogs is that it contains too much of the active ingredient. Even if you have a large breed like a Great Dane or a Labrador Retriever, his body is not built to ingest the kind of power that a couple of Ibuprofens possess.

In this case, think of your dog as a small child. You wouldn’t think of giving your 7-year old an Ibuprofen because he or she would be too small of frame to handle the dosage. By that rationale, why would you consider giving your Miniature Schnauzer an Ibuprofen?

Can I Give My Dog a Certain Dosage of an NSAID?

Can I Give My Dog ibuprofen 2

Because NSAIDs contain the kind of anti-inflammatory power that can provide relief for a dog in a pinch, you shouldn’t write them off entirely. In fact, there are plenty of NSAIDs on the market that are specifically designed for dogs. Some of these drugs include Rimadyl, Previcox, and Meloxicam.

These NSAIDs are typically safe for dogs and carry very few side effects. However, there is still the potential for issues to develop, such as digestive, liver, and kidney problems. Even though these issues are internal, you can still pick up on the presence of the issues with careful evaluation.

You can keep track of the issues that may develop by associating the main symptoms with the word BEST. The symptoms you’re looking for include behavior changes, eating less, skin redness or scabs, and tarry stool/diarrhea, the latter of which may also be accompanied by vomiting. If you see any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.

Are There Any Other Treatments for Dog Pain?

If you’re nervous about giving your pooch anything that has NSAID in it – even if it’s designed for dogs – you do have a few alternative supplement options. Some of the more popular supplements that are out there include chondroitin and glucosamine.

While these supplements don’t have the pain relief-related track record that NSAIDs do, research has shown that they may reduce swelling and inflammation. Some research has even shown that the supplements may help to repair cartilage. What’s more, these supplements are usually available on an over-the-counter basis.

On the other side of the spectrum, your veterinarian may prescribe a heavy duty medication if your pooch is suffering from an advanced form of pain or disease. These medications are typically only prescribed for a limited time.

For instance, the Parkinson’s disease-battling drug amantadine may be used to help dogs overcome aches from disk issues, arthritis, and cancer. Gabapentin can be prescribed to a pooch to alleviate pain caused by damaged nerves. The mild opioid tramadol and be given to older dogs that are in steady and consistent pain.

Eliminate the Guesswork and Consult a Vet

If you notice that your dog is in enough pain in which an NSAID or a painkiller may be necessary, your first step should always be to visit your vet. While your instinct as a pet owner may be to figure out how to provide your pooch with quick relief as quickly as possible, doing so on your own may end up doing more harm than good.

Even if you’re just contemplating providing your pooch with a supplement, a vet consultation is essential. Your vet will be able to pinpoint precisely what the root of the pain is, and be able to treat it with the right kind of medication. He or she will also be able to give your dog the dosage needed to further protect him from potential side effects.

Don’t Fall Into Temptation – Refrain from Ibuprofen!

It needs to be emphasized again that giving your dog Ibuprofen is a horrible idea that should be avoided at all costs. Slipping one to your pooch is doing him a large disservice; one that could have potentially deadly consequences. Ibuprofen may appear to provide a quick fix to your pooch’s problem, but it could have long-term ramifications that you do not want.


Laura Harris

Dr. Laura Harris is our resident dog health expert. She started to fact-check dog health-related information for HerePup during her internship and contributes since then. Her expertise is in dog nutrition, senior dog care, especially critical care medicine and internal medicine.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Julia - June 18, 2018

Excellent write-up. Our poodle has a pretty bad ear infection, and we can tell that he’s in extreme pain. Giving him Aspirin or similar — an NSAID — did cross my mind, but I’m very glad I came across your article. In consultation with our vet, we’re going to be treating him with very specific doses of medication safe for dogs. Anyway, our poodle is now on a safe and sure road to recovery. Thank you for the article.


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