Ibuprofen Toxicity

Before you medicate your dog, stop and ask your veterinarian.   Many people do not know that pain medications made for people (both over-the-counter and prescription) can be very harmful and even deadly to our pets!  Not all have to do with the size of your pet either, however in a small dog even 1 little pill could be deadly.

Ibuprofen is a very effective NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) that is commonly used in humans as an over-the-counter pain reliever. It usually comes in 200mg pills or capsules, although extra-strength formulations are available that can be up to 800mg per pill. Many well-meaning owners make the mistake of giving their dog ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) for pain control. Many dogs also accidentally ingest this medication when they knock over an open container or chew through the bottle.   Advil has a cherry coating that some dogs find very palatable.   Ibuprofen is extremely toxic for dogs and cats alike as their livers cannot process the metabolites. Toxicity can begin at as low as 8mg/kg. This means that ingesting only one 200mg ibuprofen is more than enough to potentially produce gastric ulceration in a 40lb dog.

Gastric ulcers are typically considered the first level of toxicity and can cause bloody vomit, diarrhea, lethargy and decreased appetite or unwillingness to eat. In the case of severe gastric ulcers internal bleeding from the stomach can lead to shock or sepsis resulting in death.

Following gastric ulcers in severity is kidney disease.  An enzyme found in NSAIDs inhibits blood flow to the kidneys. Decreased blood flow to the kidneys can cause death of kidney tissue and the development of acute renal failure. This results in an inability to concentrate the urine and the buildup of toxins in the blood which can cause frequent drinking and urinating, lethargy, nausea and anorexia. Renal failure can not be cured, but can sometimes be medically managed using a variety of veterinary medications, fluid therapy and specialized diets.  Although the kidneys can health, they are unlike to heal fully and some permanent damage will be done.  In short, this can dramatically reduce the overall life span of your loved one.

If caught early, like in the first 4 horus, the best course of action if your pet has ingested ibuprofen is to induce vomiting.  This is best done by your veterinarian as hydrogen peroxide and other OTC medications can further gastric ulceration, lead to aspiration, or can simple exacerbate nausea.   Administration of activated charcoal is also recommended in order to bind with any ibuprofen left in the system and prevent it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.   Charcoal can also help with some gastrointestinal upset and even bind up diarrhea.   However this should only be administer by a professional like your veterinarian as aspiration, getting fluid down the tracheal, can cause a serious pneumonia.  IV fluids, stomach protectant medications and frequent blood work to monitor kidney and liver values should be done as well based on the amount of ingestion.


If your pet accidentally ingests any medication or you have any questions about pain relief in your pet please call Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital at 201-646-2008 or visit us at www.meadowlandsvethospital.com.  At MVH we believe in prevention over treatment to ensure the safety of your pets not just for today but for the future.

By |March 13th, 2018|