A friend of mine recently sent me a facebook message asking me if he could give his dog some Ibruprofen (Motrin), and if so how much. He was on a vacation up north, away from his regular veterinary hospital, and thought that his middle- aged dog was feeling pain from over-exercise. It is unfortunately common for people to make an assumption that a safe medication for people will also be safe for their pets. In this instance my friend had the good sense to ask a veterinary professional before using Ibruprofen for his dog so I was able to give him the facts about these medications before he was able cause any harm to his pet.
As our pets advance in age, they will often develop the same problems with aches and pains that their human companions do. Osteoarthritis can form in hips, knees, elbows and backs just as it does in people and can develop as a result of injury, hip dysplasia and often times just the normal aging process. The pain associated with arthritis can leave dogs achy resulting in difficulty standing, often in the rear legs after sleeping and stiff joints after exercise. The pain that they feel might not always be obvious but may show up in subtle ways such as inability to climb stairs, giving up on walks and games, and irritability.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including Ibruprofen (Motrin) and Acetominophen (Tylenol), are a class of drugs that are commonly used in people and animals for the relief of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, headaches, muscle aches and for the relief of mild fevers. Ibruporfen has been shown to cause kidney and liver disease in some dogs and is deadly in some cases. Acetominophen (Tylenol) can also cause illness in dogs and is deadly at even small doses in cats. When pets ingest small overdoses of an NSAID, it may result in stomach ulcers, causing signs of vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, anemia, abdominal pain, and lethargy. With larger ingestions, kidney failure, liver failure and neurological problems (e.g., tremors or seizures) can develop.
There are safer NSAIDs that are used in our canine friends. Dog-specific NSAIDs include common brands such as Rimadyl, Dermaxx, Previcox and Metacam. There are no NSAIDs designed for longterm use in cats and this class of drug is used sparingly in cats because it is poorly tolerated.
Pet owners should never give any medication to their dog or cat without consultation with their veterinarian.
If you think your dog or cat were poisoned by ibuprofen, or any other human medication, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment advice. The sooner the poisoning is diagnosed, the sooner it can be addressed to save your special pet.