Ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin, Caldolor, NeoProfen) Toxicity in Dogs


Overview of Ibuprofen Toxicity in Dogs

Ibuprofen, commonly known by the brand names of Advil, Midol, Motrin, Caldolor, NeoProfen, is a popular and effective over-the-counter medication available to treat pain and inflammation in people. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (commonly referred to as a NSAID- pronounced with the letter n-said).  For dogs, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. The most common cause of ibuprofen toxicity is a well-meaning owner trying to alleviate pain in his dog who administers a dose he thinks is adequate without knowing the toxic dose.

The most commonly affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or kidneys. Hepatopathy is also possible. The initial toxic effect is bleeding stomach ulcers. In addition to ulcers, increasing doses of ibuprofen eventually leads to kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal. Liver injury and disease is also possible.

Most cases of ibuprofen occur in dogs – of all breeds, ages and sexes. Young dogs, senior dogs, and dogs with preexisting conditions affecting the heart, liver and kidneys are at higher risk of toxicity. Dogs taking other NSAID drugs or steroids are at much greater risk of toxicity.

What to Watch For

Signs of ibuprofen toxicity in dogs may include: 

  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Black tarry stools
  • Vomiting blood
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst and urinations occurs with kidney failure

    The effects can vary from minor to very severe.

  • Diagnosis of Ibuprofen Toxicity in Dogs

    Diagnosis of ibuprofen toxicity is generally based on physical exam findings and a history of access or exposure to ibuprofen.

    Blood tests are done to determine the overall health of the dog. If ibuprofen was ingested, blood tests may reveal anemia from a bleeding ulcer or abnormalities secondary to kidney damage.

    Treatment of Ibuprofen Toxicity in Dogs

  • Expect your veterinarian to recommend hospitalization with continuous intravenous fluids in high rates to enhance NSAID excretion for 24 to 48 hours.
  • All steroids and NASIDS need to be discontinued immediately.
  • Activated charcoal may be given if ingestion was recent (less than 2 hours).
  • If the dog is severely anemic due to bleeding ulcers, blood transfusions may be needed.
  • Medications such as sucralfate (Carafate®), Omeprazole, cimetidine (Tagamet®) or famotidine (Pepcid®) will be given to treat stomach ulcers.
  • Antiemetic medications may be used to control vomiting.
  • After 1 to 2 days of treatment, repeat blood work may be done to evaluate kidney function after treatment.
  • Home Care and Prevention

    There is no home care for ibuprofen toxicity. Veterinary care is strongly suggested to treat kidney failure and bleeding stomach ulcers.

    While recovering from ibuprofen toxicity, feed your dog a bland diet for one to two days. Gradually return to a normal diet. Watch for failure to eat, vomiting and continued black tarry stools.

    The best preventive care is to give your dog medications only if directed by your veterinarian. Medications that may be safe for people can be fatal to pets. Also, make sure that all medications are kept out of the reach of inquisitive pets. Keeping medicine


    In-Depth Information on Ibuprofen Toxicity in Dogs

    Ibuprofen toxicity typically results from administration of an improper dose by well meaning owners or acute overdose from curious animals eating large quantities.

    Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). The purpose of these drugs is to reduce the pain associated with inflammation. NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins. There are different types of prostaglandins and, as a class, are responsible for a wide variety of normal body functions. They are present in areas of trauma to help repair damage. They are also responsible for maintaining proper blood flow to the kidneys and protecting the stomach lining from the effects of stomach acids.

    The primary reason NSAIDs are used is to reduce the presence of prostaglandins in trauma related injuries. Without prostaglandins, there is less inflammation and therefore, less pain. Unfortunately, medicine has yet to make an NSAID that only affects the prostaglandins associated with inflammation. When the prostaglandins for inflammation are inhibited, so are the prostaglandins responsible for normal kidney blood flow and stomach protection. This is the cause of the toxic properties of ibuprofen in pets.

    The toxic signs of ibuprofen include:

  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Stumbling

    Dogs are particularly sensitive to the stomach ulcer effect of ibuprofen. Stomach ulcers can occur within 12 hours of ingestion but sometimes can take up to four days. With massive overdose or ingestion, severe kidney impairment can occur within 12 hours of ingestion but may take up to five days. In severe cases, seizures may occur.

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