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Can You Give Dogs Ibuprofen?

4 min read

Knowing that your dog is in pain is a horrible feeling, and for many owners the first instinct is to go straight to the medicine cabinet to look for some sort of pain relief for their pet. However, we would always strongly advise against doing this and, if you think your dog is hurting, stay calm and call the vet. They will be able to offer you help and advice on what to do next.

We would always advise against giving any medications to your pet and, if you think there is something wrong, you should get in touch with your vet – even if it’s an emergency your vet practice should have a phone number that you can call 24/7.

One of the most common medications that owners consider giving to their dog at home is ibuprofen. Here is all you need to know about why you should never give your pet this pain medication.

Can you give dogs ibuprofen?

Two pills in hand

No, you can’t give dogs Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) created for human consumption and it’s not safe for dogs in any dose.

Humans and dogs have very different anatomy and body sizes, so you should never give human medicines to dogs.

As the NHS explains, human NSAIDs are medicines used to combat pain and reduce inflammation in people; high-dose aspirin and naproxen are part of the same group of drugs, and you should steer clear of those for dogs as well.

Can you give a dog aspirin?

No, you should not give your dog aspirin without consulting your vet. Although vets sometimes prescribe aspirin to treat different health conditions (including osteoarthritis in dogs), this NSAID is associated with serious adverse reactions and should only be administered under the guidance of a veterinary health professional. And if your dog does ingest aspirin, contact your vet straight away for further advice.

Why are human NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin dangerous for dogs?

These medicines work by inhibiting enzymes that cause inflammation in our bodies, thereby reducing the pain that the inflammation causes. However, these enzymes also help our kidneys and gastrointestinal tract to function properly. A small dose of ibuprofen for humans can reduce pain and inflammation without affecting our body’s functioning, but the same doesn’t hold true for dogs, and this drug can be toxic.

What if my dog ingested ibuprofen?

Dog at vet

If your dog has managed to get their paws on this medicine, contact your vet straight away. The symptoms they might experience include vomiting and lethargy, so look out for these unusual signs.

Kidney and liver damage are some of the more serious consequences of ingesting ibuprofen, and this is why contacting your vet straight away is extremely important.

If dogs can’t have ibuprofen or aspirin, what other pain relief is available?

Even though ibuprofen should not be administered to dogs, this doesn’t mean that our pooches are completely helpless when facing acute or chronic pain. Fortunately, there are many NSAIDs created for dogs. Ask your vet about pain relief options that are safe for your dog.

Are there other ways to manage pain in dogs?

Although many owners may initially wonder ‘can I give my dog ibuprofen’, there are many other safe ways to manage pain. Depending on what the source of the pain is, you may even be able to bypass medicines, or at least, stop relying on them exclusively. For example, canine hydrotherapy can help your pet get over their illness or injury by practising a form of therapeutic exercise designed to facilitate rehabilitation.

Dogs suffering from arthritis or hip dysplasia pain might also benefit from acupuncture. This is a centuries-old technique where small needles are inserted into the body at specific locations with the aim of relaxing muscles and improving blood flow. However, before signing your dog up for a session, it’s always a good idea to ask the vet first to make sure this is a procedure that will truly benefit your dog’s specific condition.

At times, a little bit of extra exercise or changes in the diet are enough to help with certain types of pain, such as joint pain caused by arthritis. So, make sure you take into consideration the vast range of resources available for pain management to make sure your pup gets the best treatment possible.

How to determine why your dog is in pain

By the time an owner starts looking for ibuprofen or other pain medication to help their best friend, one important step may have been missed – determining what is causing the pain in the first place. Pain medication can sometimes help to relieve discomfort but finding out the root cause is often also important. So, if you think your dog may be in pain, get in touch with your vet, who will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Now that you’ve discovered why you shouldn’t give ibuprofen or aspirin to your dog, here is a list of unusual dog symptoms to watch out for, including changes in behaviour and appetite, which might mean your dog is hurting or unwell.