Is it safe to give a dog ibuprofen?
Queens, New York
Dogs can tolerate a few doses of ibuprofen (also known as Motrin or Advil). It’s a decent painkiller. It’s in a class of medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
In dogs, ibuprofen has a low margin of safety. If it’s used more than a few times it is likely to cause problems. Like all NSAIDs, it can cause liver, kidney, and intestinal problems. These problems can be sudden and serious.
If you suspect your pet is in pain, don’t give a human medication. Even if it is safe, it could be incompatible with a more effective veterinary medication.
I cannot count the number of times that people have brought painful dogs to my office and mentioned that they had already administered ibuprofen, aspirin, Vicodin, Alleve, Tylenol or, in rare cases, OxyContin. These medicines have limited safety margins in dogs (most are severely toxic to cats). Dogs that have received these medications often must wait days before they safely can receive similar drugs that are safe and appropriate for animals. Cats may not be so lucky — many human painkillers are fatally toxic to them.
If your pet is in pain, call a vet. If you administer a human painkiller you may do more harm than good.