Just as it is unwise for one person to share prescription medicine with another, it can also be dangerous to give pain medication intended for humans to animals. In general, giving a dog ibuprofen, or other analgesics, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, is very inadvisable. These substances may sometimes be prescribed by a veterinarian, but in this case, the dose will have been carefully considered, and will be appropriate to the pet. Pills and tablets for people come in doses suitable for humans, but these need to be adjusted when applied to animals, not only for differing body weights, but also because of possible differences in animal biochemistry. If a pet is in pain, a veterinarian should be consulted to determine what, if any, pain medication should be given.
The Effects of Ibuprofen on Dogs
Like aspirin, ibuprofen is classed as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). All such drugs can cause irritation of the stomach, and while they can be useful, there are no guidelines for dosage to animals on pain medication purchased for humans. Ibuprofen can damage the stomach lining, causing ulcers, and, at higher doses, can cause kidney failure. Very high doses may cause central nervous system (CNS) problems, including depression, seizures and coma. Usually, however, this painkiller causes gastrointestinal problems, which result in vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Treatment for Ibuprofen Poisoning
If a dog, or other pet, has swallowed ibuprofen, whether accidentally or through being given it by a well-intentioned owner, the animal should be taken to a veterinarian without delay. A number of treatments may then be given. Vomiting may be induced to remove the painkiller, and activated charcoal may be given to absorb the drug, and prevent it from entering the animal’s system. Medications that protect the stomach and intestines from damage may also be given. If treatment is prompt, the dog will usually recover.
Pain Treatment for Dogs
If a dog shows signs of being in pain, it is important that the cause should be determined, so the pet should be taken to a veterinarian, who can check for injuries or illnesses that may require other medical intervention. Not understanding the cause of pain could lead to greater injury, or an unnecessary delay in proper treatment for a serious condition, especially if the pain is masked by medication. The veterinarian may prescribe a suitable analgesic, along with any other treatment required. Generally, aspirin is preferred to ibuprofen, which is a more powerful medication and has only a small margin of error regarding the dose. Aspirin tablets with an “enteric coating” do not dissolve until they have passed through the stomach and into the intestine, and are therefore considered safer to prescribe.
The prescribed pain medication may sometimes seem expensive. Owners, however, should not give their pets painkillers from their own medicine cabinets, even if it is the same drug that has been prescribed, unless this has first been discussed with the veterinarian, and then only at the recommended dose. Other analgesics should not be substituted, as they may have very different effects. For example, acetaminophen is particularly dangerous for dogs, as it can damage the liver. Even if a dog has been prescribed a particular medication in the past, a veterinarian should be consulted before administering it again, because various factors may have changed, and the underlying cause of the pain needs to be investigated.