Toxic or Not?
Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, many other over the counter [OTC] medications) toxicity is listed as the number one most common poisoning in dogs, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Sometimes, this is the result of dogs accidentally chewing up the bottle, but often it is the result of well-meaning owners intentionally giving it to their dogs for pain control.
Ibuprofen has a narrow margin of safety in dogs. While doses of 5-15 mg/kg have been prescribed by some veterinarians, vomiting, abdominal pain and GI ulcers can be seen with doses of 25-50 mg/kg. That is the equivalent of 1 regular strength (200mg) to 1 extra-strength (500mg) tablet in a 20 lb. dog. At higher doses, 175 mg/kg and up (8 regular strength or 3 extra strength tablets in a 20 lb. dog), acute kidney failure results, although this dose may be lower in dogs with pre-existing kidney disease. Once doses approach 400mg/kg (20 200mg tablets or 8 500mg tablets in a 20 lb dog), seizures, coma and death may occur.
Other NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflamatory Drugs) like aspirin or Aleve have the same effects, although at different ranges. When Aleve (naprosin) first became available over-the-counter, we saw a lot of dogs with gastric ulcers from this potent NSAID. Aspirin, while considered generally safe, can cause stomach ulcers in susceptible patients or when overdosed. Cats are at least two to three times as sensitive to NSAIDs as dogs are, so even more caution is warranted. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, never give your pets a human OTC medication without consulting with a veterinarian first.