As our four-legged companions age most of them begin to develop varying aches and pains much the same way that many of us do. Other young, healthy dogs will injure themselves while running and playing. Both of these common situations result in your furry friend being in some amount of pain. Pain medication is very useful in relieving your pet’s discomfort as well as reducing swelling and aiding in healing.
If you find yourself in a situation here you think your cat or dog needs pain medication you should always call your veterinarian! Pain medications made for people (both over-the-counter and prescription) can be very harmful and even deadly to our pets!
Ibuprofen is a very effective NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) that is commonly used in humans as an over-the counter pain reliever. It usually comes in 200mg pills or capsules. Many well-meaning owners make the mistake of giving their dog ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) for pain control. Many dogs also accidentally ingest this medication when they knock over an open container or chew through the bottle. Ibuprofen is extremely toxic for dogs and cats alike. Toxicity can begin at as low as 8mg/kg. This means that ingesting only one 200mg ibuprofen is more than enough to potentially produce gastric ulceration in a 40lb dog. Gastric ulcers are typically considered the first level of toxicity and can cause bloody vomit, diarrhea, lethargy and decreased appetite or unwillingness to eat. In the case of severe gastric ulcers internal bleeding from the stomach can lead to shock or sepsis resulting in death.
Following gastric ulcers in severity is kidney disease- the second stage of toxicity resulting from the ingestion of ibuprofen. An enzyme found in NSAIDs called cyclooxygenase inhibits the production of prostaglandins in the body which inhibits blood flow to the kidneys. Decreased blood flow to the kidneys can cause death of kidney tissue and the development of acute renal failure. This results in an inability to concentrate the urine and the buildup of toxins in the blood which can cause frequent drinking and urinating, lethargy, nausea and anorexia. Renal failure can not be cured, but can sometimes be medically managed using a variety of veterinary medications, fluid therapy and specialized diets.
If your pet ingests ibuprofen the best course of action is to induce vomiting if it has occurred within the last few hours. Administration of activated charcoal is also recommended in order to bind with any ibuprofen left in the system and prevent it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Additionally IV fluids as well as stomach protectant medications and frequent blood work to monitor kidney and liver values should be done as well.
If your pet accidentally ingests any medication or you have any questions about pain relief in your pet please call your veterinarian.