My Dog Ate Ibuprofen and Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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my dog ate ibuprofen

Key Takeaways:

  • Ibuprofen is extremely dangerous for dogs and toxic in small doses.
  • Signs of poisoning may take a few days to appear.
  • Any time you see or suspect that your dog ingested ibuprofen, call your veterinarian.
  • Treatment and recovery vary depending on the brand, the dose ingested, and the timing of veterinary care.

If your dog ate ibuprofen, you should call the veterinarian as soon as possible.

In this article, we’ll explain why ibuprofen is dangerous for dogs and what you should do if your furbaby snarfs up some of this drug, even if he’s acting fine. We’ll list the signs of toxicity and side effects of ibuprofen and explain why it’s so dangerous for dogs. 

To help you prepare for the veterinary visit, we’ll explain how doctors usually treat ibuprofen poisoning and what recovery usually involves. 

Let’s get started.

How Much Ibuprofen Is Toxic to Dogs?

Ibuprofen is very dangerous for dogs, and it doesn’t take much to reach toxic levels. For example, half of a 200 mg pill can be toxic to a 25 lb dog.

While your veterinarian may prescribe low doses of ibuprofen to treat some inflammatory conditions in your pooch, you should never try to self-dose. Too much of this drug can have damaging side effects:

  • 11-56 mg/lb can cause digestive upset with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping
  • >79 mg/lb can trigger bloody stool and vomit, increased drinking and urination, and kidney failure
  • >181 mg/lb can lead to disturbances of the central nervous system including ataxia, seizures, shock, and coma.
  • >272 mg/lb is deadly.

So, if your pooch accidentally ingests a small piece, you should call your veterinarian and schedule an exam. However, if he snarfs down several pills, get emergency care as soon as possible.

Summary: Ibuprofen can be toxic to dogs in small quantities. Minor side effects include digestive disturbances, while more severe effects include kidney damage, seizures, and coma. If your veterinarian prescribes ibuprofen for pain management, follow the label directions. You should never try to self-dose your pooch. Call your veterinarian if your pup ingests any ibuprofen.

What Should I Do if My Dog Ate Ibuprofen?

If you saw your pooch eat ibuprofen, the first thing you should do is call your veterinarian and induce vomiting. The more of the drug you can remove from your dog’s stomach before it’s absorbed into his system, the better.

 In the case of lower doses(your pup ate one or part of one pill), provide supportive care until you get to the veterinarian. However, suppose your pal ingested several pills and you have some activated charcoal at home. In that case, your veterinarian may instruct you to give him an initial dose before heading in for further treatment. 

Summary: If your dog eats ibuprofen, you need to contact your veterinarian and induce vomiting to get as much of the drug out of his system as possible. When dogs eat a low dose, you can provide supportive care. But for larger doses, your veterinarian may recommend activated charcoal before the office visit.

What to do Immediately If You Suspect Your Dog Has Been Poisoned by Ibuprofen

Because ibuprofen can be toxic in small quantities, you should always contact your veterinarian if you suspect or know she ate some of this drug. If she had a small dose, you may be able to set up an office appointment, but larger quantities should be treated as an emergency.

Summary: Ibuprofen is extremely dangerous for dogs. So, if you suspect your dog ate any of this drug, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

What if My Dog Ate a Lot of Ibuprofen But Is Acting Normal?

How ibuprofen affects your dog’s body depends on the brand and dose he ingested.  Some pooches may start with vomiting and diarrhea can appear in a matter of a few hours, but other signs like ulcers and liver or kidney damage take days to develop. 

If your pup ingested a hefty dose of ibuprofen, you should get him immediate veterinary care even if he’s acting normal right now. The sooner the doctor can start the treatment process, the better your furbaby’s chance of recovery.  

Summary: The effects and timing of ibuprofen toxicity in dogs vary depending on the dose and brand of ibuprofen. Even if your pooch seems normal after ingesting lots of this over-the-counter medication, you should contact your veterinarian. Early treatment improves the chances of recovery.

Signs of Ibuprofen poisoning

Depending on the damage or toxic effects on your dog, you may see signs fairly quickly or have delayed symptoms:

Short Term Symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • hypersalivation
  • Loss of appetite

Long Term Symptoms

  • Ulcers
  • Stomach pain
  • Blood in vomit
  • Black stools
  • Weakness
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Ataxia
  • Seizures
  • Pale gums
  • Shock
  • Coma

Summary: Signs of toxicity can appear quickly or be more long-term. Some of the more immediate symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and salivation. Long-term signs include ulcers, weakness, seizures, and pale gums. 

What Are the Side Effects of Ibuprofen for Dogs?

While your vet may prescribe ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation in your dog, it’s not always the best alternative. This medicine is hazardous to dogs and can build up over time. Side effects of prolonged use or from interaction with other drugs can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Ulcers
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver damage

Why Is Ibuprofen Toxic to Dogs?

Ibuprofen works by blocking chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. However, the same chemical processes help to protect the stomach lining, support blood flow to the kidneys, and promote healthy clotting. Therefore, eating ibuprofen makes your pup’s system vulnerable to ulcers and kidney damage. 

Additionally, dogs lack the enzyme to break down ibuprofen. So when a pup ingests ibuprofen, the drug recirculates in the body, which enhances the toxic effects in your pooch.

Summary: Ibuprofen works to block inflammatory chemical reactions in the body, but these processes also perform valuable functions in the body such as protecting the stomach lining. Ingesting doses of ibuprofen sets your pooch up for damage to vital organs. Canines also lack enzymes to process this drug, so it stays in the body longer.

How Do Vets Treat Ibuprofen Toxicity?

Treatment for ibuprofen toxicity varies depending on the dose and symptoms. 

  1. Decontamination – If care starts within the first few hours of the toxic dose, the first step is decontamination. Unless your pup is showing neurological signs, the vet will probably induce vomiting to remove any remaining ibuprofen from the stomach. Otherwise, he may resort to gastric lavage.
  2. Activated Charcoal – Once vomiting ceases, your vet will administer doses of activated charcoal about every 6-8 hours for about a day to decrease ibuprofen absorption. 
  3. Stomach Protecting Medications – Usually, veterinarians will administer medications like anti-nausea drugs, antacids, and other stomach protectors.
  4. Supportive/Emergency Care – Depending on your dog’s symptoms and condition, your vet may also administer fluids, give a blood transfusion, or offer other supportive care.

Summary: Veterinary treatment for ibuprofen varies depending on how much your dog ate and the symptoms he’s showing. However, medical care starts with efforts to remove the drug from your pal’s stomach. After that, the doctor often uses activated charcoal to neutralize any remaining drug. Other supportive care is on a case-by-case basis.

How Long Will It Take for My Dog to Recover?

Your dog’s recovery will depend on the dose and brand of ibuprofen ingested as well as how quickly you were able to get treatment. Dogs that receive medical care in the first few hours have a higher likelihood of full recovery. 

At a minimum, your pooch will be put on a bland diet and stomach-protecting medications for several days following treatment. However, in the case of long-term exposure or higher doses, your dog may require monitoring and supportive medications for several months. If your dog suffers liver or kidney damage, he may not fully recover. 

Summary: The recovery depends on the initial toxic dose, timing of treatment, and the brand of ibuprofen involved. When your pal receives early treatment usually recovers more quickly. However, long-term exposure and high doses often require a recovery period of several months. 

The Final Woof

Ibuprofen is toxic to dogs even in small doses. Depending on the drug’s brand and amount ingested, the effects of toxicity may include digestive disturbances, kidney and liver damage, and central nervous system issues. If your dog eats ibuprofen, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible whether your dog is acting abnormally or not.

Canines don’t have the enzymes to process ibuprofen, so when they ingest the drug, it can have long-lasting effects on the body. The anti-inflammatory actions can leave your pal susceptible to stomach ulcers and other organ damage. When your dog eats ibuprofen, your vet will try to remove as much drug as possible by inducing vomiting. Other treatments vary depending on the nature of the poisoning. Recovery depends on the product ingested, the dose, and the timing of initial treatment. 

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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