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A dog owner consulting a vet about giving their dog Advil.

The essentials

  • Advil is not safe for dogs — Advil and other generic brands of ibuprofen can be toxic to dogs, especially in higher doses.
  • Look for symptoms of drug toxicity — Ibuprofen toxicity can occur within just an hour of ingestion. Call a veterinarian right away if you notice symptoms like bloody stool or vomiting.
  • Consider safer alternatives for pain control — Talk to a vet about alternative painkillers, including medications and supplements developed for dogs.

When you or a family member are in pain, you probably reach for ibuprofen or other over-the-counter (OTC) medications, including “baby” or “children” versions of these pain relievers for kids. It can be tempting to do the same for our pets when we see them in pain. However, you should never give your dog ibuprofen or other human non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can do far more harm than good for dogs.

Can my dog take Advil?

No, pet parents should never give their dogs Advil or other human pain medications. Ibuprofen, including the Advil brand, can be toxic to dogs. Based on the dose a dog ingests, it can affect their gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and nervous system.  NSAIDs work by blocking processes that cause inflammation in the body, but in dogs, these processes are essential for the regular functioning of several key organs and systems.

Ibuprofen vs. acetaminophen

Although acetaminophen, also used for pain relief in humans, is not an NSAID, it is still harmful to dogs and can lead to damage of the liver and kidneys, as well as the destruction of a dog’s red blood cells. Acetaminophen can even be lethal to both dogs and cats.

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Symptoms of ibuprofen overdose in dogs

Perhaps you keep a bottle of ibuprofen in your bag, and your curious dog gets into it. If you suspect your dog has ingested ibuprofen, make sure to call the Pet Poison helpline or take them to your local animal hospital or emergency vet hospital immediately. Some symptoms of minor ibuprofen overdose in dogs include:

Toxicity can take effect within just one hour of ingestion. If your dog took several pills, a higher dosage can cause more severe symptoms, including:

  • Incoordination
  • Skin discoloration including yellow coloration to the eyes and skin
  • Increased or decreased drinking and/or urination
  • Kidney damage
  • Respiratory distress
  • Bruising
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Coma

🏮If you suspect your pet is experiencing ibuprofen toxicity, call your veterinarian right away or get to the nearest veterinary emergency hospital.

Alternatives to ibuprofen

While you shouldn’t give your dog ibuprofen or other human-grade pain medicines, there are alternatives to help relieve your dog’s pain. Some dog prescription drugs are available to safely relieve pain and inflammation for dogs, and you can talk to your vet about supplements that may also offer some relief, especially for joint pain.

Prescription drugs

While Advil is dangerous to dogs, there are plenty of pet-safe medications to help treat pain. Your vet may prescribe certain prescription pain relievers to your dog, including:

  • Hydrocodone. When monitored by a vet, this medication can provide relief for dogs with a chronic cough. Hydrocodone is an opiate agonist and a cough suppressant.
  • Safe NSAIDs. Some NSAIDs are formulated for dogs but require a prescription, a physical exam, and bloodwork annually. These anti-inflammatory drugs can help relieve pain, redness, and swelling and may be used to manage osteoarthritis. NSAIDs for dogs may include carprofen, deracoxib, firocoxib, grapiprant, meloxicam, piroxicam, or robenacoxib.
  • Novox. Novox is an FDA-approved anti-inflammatory medication for dogs that is also known as carprofen. This medication may be prescribed for dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia, or short- or long-term use after surgery.
  • Gabapentin. This medication is typically prescribed for dogs with chronic pain and neuropathic pain, such as for osteoarthritis or bone spurs. Gabapentin is often prescribed along with other analgesic agents for the best results.

Supplements

For dogs with joint pain or inflammation, your dog may find relief with the help of supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids can be particularly helpful for inflammation and pain management. Omega-3 fatty acids can alleviate joint pain and even improve the health of your dog’s skin and coat. Dogs need omega-3s for brain and heart functioning, but they can’t create these fatty acids on their own.

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Frequently asked questions

Can dogs take Advil?

No, dogs cannot take Advil or other brands of ibuprofen. You should never give your dog human-grade pain relievers or medications without first speaking to a vet.

What should I do if my dog ingests Advil?

If your dog accidentally ingests some Advil, call the Pet Poison helpline or take them to your local vet or emergency animal hospital immediately. Ibuprofen toxicity can begin taking effect within just one hour of ingestion. The vet may need to pump the dog’s stomach, or in more severe cases such as perforations of the stomach, your dog may need surgery. Seek treatment immediately if you know your dog may have ingested Advil or any human medication. The sooner treatment is performed, the better your dog’s prognosis will be.

Are pain medications safe for dogs?

Dogs may experience joint pain, cuts, or other uncomfortable injuries that require some pain management. Don’t raid the medicine cabinet for pain meds to give your pup. Instead, contact your dog’s veterinarian who will be able to prescribe a safer medication for your pup.