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Whether young or old, we all share a familiar feeling towards dogs, and that’s love. We consider them as part of our family.
Psychologists often say that dogs can bring happiness to every home, or in other words, relieve the stress of both the pet and the owner.
Of course, I believe that dogs aren’t our whole life, but they can make our lives complete, and that’s the reason they need all the best care that we can afford.
Now, think of your pretty puppy in pain, be it from a cut or a limp. Sorry about the thought; I’m not trying to ruin your mood, and neither am I trying to make you cry. I’m just trying to point out how sensitive we can be especially to this idea. Our little dogs look to us to help them solve the miseries that they can’t handle.
Having two puppies at home myself, I know well how desperate things can get when they are in pain. Often, we find ourselves wondering what to give our dogs to save them from their pains.
The inconvenient fact about dogs is that they don’t speak verbally and thus can’t explain what’s going on inside their bodies. However, I believe that they do talk, but only to those who know how to listen.
Can you give a dog ibuprofen?
Above is a question that most dog owners find themselves asking at one point or another. They argue that since we can take a couple of Nuprin in a day to relieve a headache, the same drug might work for the dog’s pain.
Yes, the drug can work for the pain, but should be used with caution; otherwise, it can mean more pain to you.
We treat dogs as our family members, but you need to ask yourself: are they human? Obviously they aren’t. For instance, when a family member complains of a headache, we might give them ibuprofen from the store, and within an hour or so, the pain is gone and they’re back to normal.
When it comes to our dogs, however, the situation is different.
First, the dog’s digestive system is different from yours. When given ibuprofen, it can be extremely problematic for the dog and even lead to death.
However, this doesn’t mean that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can’t be used to treat the dog’s pain. In fact, vets administer it to them in times of need, but they give it in small amounts.
Fact: NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins that promote inflammation and pain, but prostaglandins also have several beneficial functions for dogs. The reduction or removal of these functions can be very harmful.
To be clear, unless you’re a vet, you shouldn’t give your dog ibuprofen without consulting a professional.
What happens when your dog takes ibuprofen?
As stated above, our digestive system is different from that of dogs, and furthermore, when they consume ibuprofen, the results are much different.
While possibly alleviating pain, ibuprofen (under trade names like Motrin) can be dangerous and even fatal. The dog may:
- experience stomach and gastrointestinal illnesses
- refuse to eat
- vomit repeatedly
We both know what this would mean to its general health.
The worst scenario is when the drug gets consumed in a large amount; it can lead to heart abnormalities, renal failure, and even eventual death.
In some instances, the dog may suffer from ulcers and intestinal perforations, and this comes with extended use.
What you should understand is that the reactions are different based on some factors.
For example, young and older puppies may experience strong effects as compared to “middle-aged” dogs. Also, the dog’s health has an impact when it comes to the drug’s effects.
You should inform your vet of any other medications that your dog may be on, as some of them may react to a vet-administered ibuprofen dosage and lead to disastrous consequences.
What To Do If Your Dog Accidentally Consumes Ibuprofen
Things can get scary when your dog starts experiencing symptoms of improper ibuprofen consumption. It might feel awful and more worrying than the initial pain that you were trying to relieve.
However, I always say that you should never panic. These things happen.
Unless you’re a vet yourself, the first thing to do is call your veterinarian. In case you don’t have one, you can call the pet poison control hotline. The specialist will either decide on a direct examination or a wait-and-see approach based on the dog’s condition.
During treatment, if the dog is not purging, the vets will try and induce vomiting to help flush out the consumed ibuprofen.
Some dogs may start experiencing neurological symptoms, and specialists may correct this by pumping its stomach — what they call gastric lavage.
Once the vet is sure that all of the ibuprofen is cleared, he or she will likely administer activated charcoal at intervals to absorb all the harmful substances that may have been released by the liver.
The specialist also administers fluids to help dilute the toxins which may otherwise trigger kidney damage.
Lastly, you may be given carry-home medicine to aid in protecting the dog’s stomach lining as well as control the vomiting and seizures in case it keeps happening after the fact.
What should you give your dog for pain?
By now, you know what ibuprofen can do to your dog if not administered professionally. Your next question might be what you should give your dog for pain.
Many individuals consider alternative pain treatment strategies and products. To me, this approach is neither bad nor good because when done carefully it can save the dog’s life. But it’s essential that these methods are employed correctly.
Again, you shouldn’t panic. The first and best thing to do is consult with your vet. Based on its condition, the vet can help you decide the way forward.
With that said, here are some suggestions:
Aspirin is a common pain reliever that vets consider to treat dog pain.
This painkiller can have similar effects to ibuprofen on the dog’s system such as seizures and stomach disturbances, and hence should be administered only under the professional supervision of a veterinarian.
Acetaminophen, known under the trade name Tylenol, is another over the counter (OTC) medicine that vets may consider for relieving a dog’s pain.
It is not an NSAID, but it can cause serious side effects such as liver and kidney damage and should only be used cautiously.
Warning: Do not administer NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil) or aspirin, or other pain meds meant for humans such as Tylenol, to your dog without consulting a veterinarian.
Whenever we are in pain, we appreciate extra comfort, be it an extra pillow or a blanket. Dogs aren’t different in this respect.
Anything that can help provide extra comfort for your dog will be helpful, such as a house temperature change or an extra blanket.
Note that in the case of arthritis, the combination of a good diet and exercise is often the best approach. Medicine is not the only way to relieve pain.
There are many safe pain relief meds that can be used on your dog.
Special canine painkillers formulated and created by dog companies include deracoxib, carprofen, meloxicam and etodolac, and these may be used by your veterinarian instead of an NSAID.
Have a look at this video in which Dr. Jones talks about natural anti-inflammatories for dogs and cats:
Today, dogs are seen as part of our families, and as such, they deserve all the best care and at whatever cost.
None of us want to see our dogs in pain. As a result, we may end up doing some crazy stuff out of desperation. Although I don’t blame you for doing this, I strongly recommend against taking action yourself, and instead consulting a professional as soon as possible.
To sum up, NSAIDs like ibuprofen, Advil and baby aspirin, as well as Tylenol, can be effective, but should be used by a vet or according to a vet’s instruction.
Alternatively, specialized canine pain medicine may also be used to treat your dog’s pain.
Thanks for reading. Is your dog in pain and you’re not sure what to do? Please share your situation and experiences in the comments below.
Thanks for this helpful information. My beagle is 6 years old, and a few months ago I noticed that he was starting to become reluctant to walk. He wouldn’t go up or down stairs, he wouldn’t lower his head much to eat out of his bowl, and he seemed uncoordinated at times. I suspected a herniated disc, and sure enough, that’s what it was. I knew he was in pain as well. Our local veterinarian prescribed some pain meds that included NSAIDs — as you say here, they can work with dogs, but you need to be careful to give the correct dosage at the correct frequency. We talked a bit about pain, and our vet echoed a lot of what you say here, but it’s good to get a second perspective. Thank you again!
Thanks for sharing Julie. Vets may very well prescribe NSAIDs, but it needs to be through them; you must not do it yourself without consulting them. I hope your beagle is doing well now.
Kevin, in my research I came across a NSAID known as metacam. What are your thoughts on this drug?
Yes, Metacam is actually meloxicam, which I mention in the article as being a pain killer designed for dogs. It’s an NSAID medication that treats inflammation, pain and stiffness in dogs, and also reduces fever. Metacam normally requires a prescription from your veterinarian. In terms of application, the process depends on the prescription and the type of dog, and may entail using a syringe to dispense the medication either directly into the dog’s mouth or into their food. For more on this, go here. Thanks for the comment!