Dog Care: Ibuprofen Poisoning Explained

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Ibuprofen is a commonly used medicine that can be bought from a pharmacy and is often kept on-hand at home to treat headaches and mild aches and pains. It can also be prescribed for dogs as a treatment for inflammation or pain, but your vet will prescribe a dose based on your dog's weight, as ibuprofen is toxic to dogs when ingested over the safe limit for their weight.

Aside from accidentally being given too much ibuprofen that's been prescribed for them, dogs are at risk of ibuprofen poisoning as a result of gaining access to medicine that's not been properly stored out of their reach. You should take steps to store ibuprofen safely in the same way you would if you had a young child in your home. Dogs can reach up to countertops and shelves and get into your bag or jacket pocket, so keep ibuprofen in a locked medicine box in a secure location.

Symptoms Of Poisoning

Ingesting even a slightly larger dose of ibuprofen than would be appropriate for their weight can damage certain enzymes in your dog's body and lead to them developing gastric ulcers and kidney damage. Noticeable symptoms of ibuprofen poisoning include vomiting and diarrhoea that may contain blood and a sudden significant increase in thirst. Your dog may also stop eating and can experience loss of coordination and convulsions. Without prompt treatment, ibuprofen can lead to organ failure.  

Diagnosis And Treatment

Your vet will make their diagnosis by taking details of your dog's symptoms and carrying out blood and urine tests. These diagnostic tests will confirm whether your dog's inflammatory markers are raised, which can occur when the immune system recognises a toxin has been ingested, and whether their organs are functioning properly. A sample of your dog's vomit or faeces may also be analysed for the presence of common toxins.

Treatment for ibuprofen poisoning typically involves inducing vomiting by administering an oral or intravenous emetic. If symptoms are advanced, your dog may be given activated charcoal, which is a binding substance that attaches to toxins and carries them out of the gastrointestinal tract when your dog opens their bowels. In some cases, gastric lavage is required. This involves inserting a small tube into your dog's stomach and flushing out their gastrointestinal tract with purified water.

If your dog is displaying symptoms associated with ibuprofen poisoning, or if you know they have ingested ibuprofen, they should be seen by a vet straight away. As ibuprofen poisoning can be fatal, you should contact a local after-hours animal care service.

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