Can I Give My Dog Ibuprofen?

No, you should not give your dog Ibuprofen. In pets, Ibuprofen has a very narrow safety margin, and its risks can quickly outweigh the potential benefits. Therefore, you should never give your dog Ibuprofen before talking to your veterinarian first. 

Ibuprofen (brand names Advil, Motrin) belongs to the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) together with Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Naproxen (Aleve), and Aspirin (Zorprin). In humans, Ibuprofen is the go-to medication for managing pain, inflammation, and fever since it is both efficient and readily available (over-the-counter). 

Ibuprofen and NSAIDs, in general, work by blocking the enzyme called cyclooxygenase that is responsible for producing hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins. The prostaglandins support processes like pain, inflammation, and fever, but they also promote adequate blood flow to the kidneys, help with blood clotting, and stimulate the production of a protective mucus layer in the gastrointestinal tract. 

How Much Ibuprofen Can You Give a Dog?

Can I Give My Dog Ibuprofen

The safe dose of Ibuprofen for dogs is 2.2 milligram per pound (5 milligram/kilogram) a day, divided into two administrations. Some manuals prefer to err on the side of caution and recommend doses of between 1.1 and 1.8 milligram per pound (2.5-4 milligram/kilogram) every 12 hours. 

Because of the slim margin of error, the use of Ibuprofen in dogs needs to be approved and carefully monitored by a veterinarian. Therefore, you must talk with your vet before using Ibuprofen. Dogs with certain preexisting conditions require lower doses, and others must not be exposed to Ibuprofen at all.  

What are the Side Effects of Ibuprofen in dogs?

The side effects of Ibuprofen in dogs include gastrointestinal issues (ulcers, vomiting, blood in dog stool, loss of appetite). Other side effects include bleeding disorders, kidney dysfunction, and liver damage. The risk of developing these side effects is greater with long-term use or use in conjunction with other non-steroidal or steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Plus, some Ibuprofen formulations are often fortified with additional active ingredients like acetaminophen, opioids, antihistamines, and decongestants. Some of these ingredients are dangerous or even toxic to dogs. Even if there are no added active ingredients, Ibuprofen alone can cause toxicity if given in doses slightly larger than the recommended. 

What is Ibuprofen Toxicity? 

Ibuprofen toxicity is a life-threatening situation that occurs when pet owners mistakenly overdose their dogs with Ibuprofen. It can also happen if the dog raids the medicine cabinet and ingests Ibuprofen (most Ibuprofen formulations feature sweet coating making the medication enticing for dogs).  

When it comes to pets, Ibuprofen toxicity is a plausible scenario because of the narrow safety margin. Giving a dog too large of a dose quickly results in side effects and toxicity. The toxicity of Ibuprofen is increased by factors like kidney failure, impaired liver function, stress (recent trauma or surgery), and concurrent use of glucocorticoids. 

Each year, the Animal Poison Control Center and Pet Poison Helpline receive over 4000 calls about Ibuprofen ingestions and exposures. 

What are the Signs of Ibuprofen Toxicity?

What are the Signs of Ibuprofen Toxicity

The clinical signs and symptoms of Ibuprofen toxicity depend on the ingested amount and the dog’s size and overall health (dogs with preexisting liver and kidney issues can develop severe clinical manifestation at lower doses). 

Here is a list of the toxic doses and what they cause:

  • Between 11 and 56 milligram per pound (25-125 milligram/kilogram) causes nausea, anorexia, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea 
  • Over 79 milligram per pound (>175 milligram/kilogram) causes all of the above, plus melena (blood in stool), hematemesis (blood in vomit), polydipsia (increased water intake), polyuria (increased urination), or oliguria (decreased urination), uremia, and acute kidney failure 
  • Over 181 milligram per pound (>400 milligram/kilogram) causes all of the above, plus central nervous system symptoms like ataxia (loss of balance and coordination), seizures, shock, and coma. 
  • Over 272 milligram per pound (>600 milligram/kilogram) causes death. 

Because of their limited glucuronyl conjugation ability, cats are twice as sensitive as dogs to the toxic effects of Ibuprofen.  

How is Ibuprofen Toxicity Treated? 

The first step in the treatment of Ibuprofen toxicity in dogs is aggressive decontamination. For recent ingestion (within the last 2 hours) and if the dog is not showing neurological signs, this step is based on vomiting induction. For dogs with seizures, it includes gastric lavage. 

Since Ibuprofen undergoes enterohepatic recirculation (gets repeatedly released from the liver and reabsorbed into the intestines), the next step is administering frequent and multiple doses of activated charcoal (every 6 to 8 hours for the first day). 

The following steps and exact treatment strategy depend on the Ibuprofen toxicity’s severity, but their goal is preventing and managing potential complications:

  • Gastrointestinal tract symptoms – gastrointestinal protectants, acid reducers, and antiemetics (transfusion and/or surgical correction of the ulcers in more severe cases) 
  • Impaired kidney function – intravenous fluids and monitoring baseline blood and urine parameters 
  • Neurological issues – symptomatic approach (diazepam and barbiturates for seizure control)
  • Dogs in coma – intense and supportive care, including temperature regulation and respiratory support. 
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Ibuprofen Alternatives for Dogs

Ibuprofen Alternatives for Dogs

Ibuprofen is not the only option for dog pain relief and managing inflammation and dog fever. There are several safer and equally efficient options for dogs that are both mainstream and holistic. Let’s take a look below at some of the most popular Ibuprofen alternatives for dogs. 

NSAIDs Formulated for Dogs. Common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs formulated explicitly for dogs include Firocoxib (Previcox), Carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl), Deracoxib (Deramaxx), and Meloxicam (Metacam). These medications are safe for dogs, but still, it is advisable to talk to your veterinarian before use. 

Tramadol for Dogs. Tramadol is an atypical synthetic opioid that yields pain relief. Tramadol is usually prescribed in dogs with pain that cannot be managed with NSAIDs. When used in accordance with the vet’s instructions, tramadol is safe and, unlike other opioids, does not cause dependence. 

Gabapentin for Dogs. Gabapentin is the drug of choice for pets with neuropathic pain, and it can be used in conjunction with other anti-pain medications. For example, in dogs with arthritis adding gabapentin to the management strategy allows decreasing the NSAID dose necessary for pain relief.  

CBD Oil (Cannabidiol) for Dogs. Hemp-derived, full-spectrum cannabidiol is a holistic and natural way of relieving pain and reducing inflammation. Cannabinoids have natural anti-inflammatory properties and affect the pain pathways. We strongly recommend the Honest Paws CBD products for animals, both oils and treats. They are made from organic hemp, and feature added condition-specific ingredients. 

Natural Supplements for Dogs. In dogs, pain relief is frequently required due to arthritis and joint pain. Joint supplements featuring joint-health-boosting active ingredients like glucosamine for dogs and chondroitin are excellent for alleviating arthritic pain. We suggest using the Honest Paws Mobility Green Lipped Mussels Powder. The supplement is made with several joint-friendly and features a delicious bacon popcorn flavor. 

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure you consult with the vet first. Keep in mind that the information in this article is purely educational. 

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Katelyn Son