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Dog with a broken leg in a cast

The essentials

  • Dogs should never be given ibuprofen — Advil and Motrin are formulated for humans and are considered toxic to our furry friends.
  • Side effects of ibuprofen poisoning can be mild to severe — Dogs may experience diarrhea, stomach ulcers, organ damage, seizures, or even fall into a coma.
  • There are safe alternatives to ibuprofen for dogs — Talk to your veterinarian about pet-friendly anti-inflammatories or supplements.

While it may be tempting, owners should never give their dogs ibuprofen or any other human non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as it is considered toxic to the species. 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.

🚨 If you suspect your dog has ingested any amount of ibuprofen, call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435 or seek emergency veterinary care.

Symptoms of ibuprofen toxicity in dogs

Perhaps your curious dog snatched a bottle of ibuprofen off your counter or scavenged a dropped pill off the sidewalk. Dogs can show signs of toxicity 2-6 hours after ingestion of ibuprofen, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some symptoms, like stomach ulcers or organ damage, may take longer to develop.

Side effects of ibuprofen poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea. The most common symptom of ibuprofen ingestion for dogs is diarrhea. They may also have bloody or tarry stools from gastrointestinal ulcers.
  • Loss of appetite. If your dog isn’t getting up for their mealtime, they may be sick from the ibuprofen.
  • Nausea and vomiting. As with most poisoning, vomiting (which may contain blood) is not uncommon in dogs that have ibuprofen in their system.
  • Pale gums. White, pale, or yellow gums could indicate poisoning.
  • Abdominal pain. Your dog may also experience stomach upset from ibuprofen. Look out for a bloated or distended stomach.

Dogs can also experience more severe symptoms if they’ve ingested a lot of ibuprofen. Take your pooch to the nearest animal hospital if you notice any of the following:

  • Incoordination. A condition known as ataxia can occur if there’s a problem in the nervous system. Look out for weak limbs, tipping, or dizziness.
  • Jaundice. Some dogs who have ingested ibuprofen may experience jaundice, which is a yellow discoloration of the skin, gums, and eyes. Bruising is also common.
  • Kidney damage. Dogs with damaged kidney function may show an increase or decrease in drinking and, subsequently, urination.
  • Respiratory distress. Ibuprofen can accelerate a dog’s heart rate, causing them to breathe heavily.
  • Seizures. Owners shouldn’t hesitate to seek veterinary care if their dog has a seizure. Unlike shaking, which presents as vibrations throughout the dog’s body, seizures are characterized by sudden body jerks, muscle twitching, and foaming at the mouth.
  • Collapse. A dog that’s been poisoned may experience muscle weakness and lose the ability to hold themself up, causing them to collapse.
  • Coma. Dogs can also fall into a coma if they ingest too much ibuprofen, which signals brain dysfunction.

How Ibuprofen toxicity is diagnosed and treated

If you don’t know for certain that your dog has ingested ibuprofen, your vet may recommend bloodwork to check organ function and blood cell count. In some cases, a urinalysis can also help determine if your dog has something toxic in their system.

It’s best to begin treating ibuprofen poisoning as early as possible. Inducing vomit within several hours of ingestion can help mitigate serious side effects. Your vet may also use activated charcoal to reduce the absorption of ibuprofen in your pup’s gastrointestinal tract.

If a dog ingests a lot of ibuprofen, like a whole bottle, hospitalization will be necessary for intravenous fluids and bloodwork to monitor liver and kidney function.

Alternatives to ibuprofen

Ibuprofen’s out, so what can you give your best friend when they’re experiencing pain from an injury or medical condition?

Luckily, there are other remedies out there to help relieve your canine companion’s woes, both prescription and over-the-counter. While their ingredients are generally non-toxic to pets, every dog is unique, so be sure to consult your vet to make sure they don’t contain anything your individual pup may be sensitive or allergic to.


Ibuprofen is dangerous to dogs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take any medication. Your vet may prescribe your fur baby certain prescription pain relievers, depending on what ails them,  including:

  • Opioids. When monitored by a vet, tramadol can treat moderate to severe pain in dogs and cats.
  • Gabapentin. Commonly used in humans to treat shingles and restless leg syndrome, gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and analgesic that can reduce chronic pain.
  • Safe NSAIDs. While all human NSAIDs are dangerous for our furry friends, some are formulated for dogs to manage pain, like Novox or Galliprant.
  • Steroids. Dogs experiencing pain may also benefit from some steroids like prednisone to reduce inflammation from infections or auto-immune diseases.
  • Injectables. You can also ask your vet about injectables like Librela, which can ease pain brought on from conditions like osteoarthritis.

Joint supplements

Dogs with joint pain from conditions like hip dysplasia or arthritis may benefit from certain supplements. While they’re common for large breeds, many pups can benefit from them. Here are some common joint supplements on the market:

  • Omega-3 fatty acid. Your vet may recommend omega-3 fatty acids, which can strengthen joints and even improve the health of your dog’s coat.
  • Glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin. Glucosamine is a compound that occurs naturally in dogs (and humans, for that matter). These supplements act as an anti-inflammatory and can increase your pup’s range of motion.
  • Green-lipped mussel. What-lipped what?! Green-lipped mussels (yes, those kinds of mussels) support cartilage regeneration and reduce the need for NSAIDs.
  • Hyaluronic acid. A common ingredient found in joint supplements that treat hip dysplasia, hyaluronic acid acts as a lubricant for sore joints.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). This 21-lettered supplement comes in powder or capsule form and is used as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
  • Adequan. Another common pain management supplement is Adequan, which lubricates joints, relieves inflammation, and builds healthy cartilage.

While ibuprofen can get us humans out of a bad headache or yard work-induced back cramp, they should never be given to our canine companions for their pain. Consult your veterinarian on the best way to treat your favorite furballs discomfort and they’ll hopefully be able to find a non-toxic solution.

Frequently asked questions

How much ibuprofen can I give my dog?

Dogs should not be given any amount of ibuprofen because it is toxic to them. If you suspect your dog has ingested the drug, call poison control or go to an animal hospital.

Can a dog take Tylenol?

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

What can I give my dog for inflammation?

Talk to your dog’s vet about anti-inflammatories to manage their pain, like Novox or joint supplements.

What will happen if a dog has ibuprofen?

Dogs that ingest ibuprofen will likely start exhibiting signs in 2-6 hours with symptoms that range from mild to severe, including diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and even comas.

Is there an over-the-counter painkiller I can give my dog?

There are currently no FDA-approved pain relievers for cats or dogs available over the counter. Talk to your veterinarian regarding medication to manage your dog’s pain.