It can be upsetting seeing your pet in pain. Whether it’s a sudden injury or something that’s crept up with age, most pet owners simply want to help alleviate that pain. Many turn to over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin for pet pain relief without realizing the dangers. If you’ve ever given your pet any of these medications for pain, please keep reading.
The Dangers of Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen belong to a group of anti-inflammatory and pain relieving meds called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs for short. These drugs work by blocking an enzyme called cycloxygenase, which is also responsible for helping maintain blood flow to the kidneys and helping with the production of the layer of mucus that protects the stomach from stomach acid. When this enzyme is blocked, it also inhibits these areas of the body as well. In dogs, the results could be moderate (stomach ulcers) to severe (death).
While it is possible to give dogs and cats ibuprofen for periodic pain, problems arise for a number of reasons:
- Pet owners attempt to dose the medication themselves and inadvertently give too much.
- Some dogs are just extra sensitive to the drug.
- Certain medical conditions and other drugs may make using ibuprofen more risky.
As a general rule, it is never a good idea to give your pet ibuprofen or any of the other NSAIDs on your own. It’s always a good idea to check with your veterinarian first to see if other options exist that will alleviate your pet’s discomfort. There are five classes of pain-relieving medications your vet can choose from, including NSAIDs and holistic alternatives, so be sure to discuss all the pros and cons of each, especially if your pet needs to be on the medications permanently.
It may be possible that your vet will recommend a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication for your pet, but it will be at the right dose and with supervision so you can stop the medication should any adverse side effects present themselves. Always keep your vet apprised of your pet’s condition to ensure he’s getting the pain relief he needs without any of the bad side effects.
If you think your pet has been poisoned by ibuprofen or any other substance, you can call the Pet Poison Control Center at 800-213-6680
Photo Credit: Thinkstock