The other day, my dog ate Ibuprofen.
She’s a 50 lb 2-year-old mixed breed dog. She ate a 200 mg Advil liquid gel capsule. (You know… those green or blue gel capsules with fast-acting Ibuprofen inside.)
It was right after I’d let her out of her crate in the morning, and she had used the bathroom outside.
I noticed that she was licking her lips a lot, and she was looking at me like she was up to something.
So I looked at the floor near her and noticed that she had found an Advil/Ibuprofen gel capsule that hubby had accidentally dropped when he was treating his headache earlier that morning.
The gel capsule itself had puppy teeth marks in it, and most of the Ibuprofen liquid inside was gone.
It had clearly happened within the past 30 minutes. I knew I had to do something quickly!
Here’s what I’ve learned about Ibuprofen toxicity in dogs…
How Much Ibuprofen Is Too Much?
I knew that it was dangerous for dogs to ingest NSAIDs of any kind.
NSAIDS include Aspirin, Celebrex, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn), among others.
But before I rushed to the vet, I wanted to know:
- How much Ibuprofen is toxic for dogs (…hoping that a single 200 mg pill was a relative “safe” dose)
- What the signs of Ibuprofen toxicity in dogs are (…so I’d know what to look for in my dog)
So, like most people, I went to the Internet to see what others who have been in this same situation have experienced.
I was hoping to gain some valuable insight before rushing my dog to the vet in a panic!
Dogs And Ibuprofen Treatment
First, I saw that the 2 main courses of treatment for dogs who’ve ingested NSAIDS, including Ibuprofen, are:
- On the low end… stomach pump to remove the toxic substance
- On the high end… stomach surgery to repair a perforated stomach
Ugh… neither of those sounded fun. I was hoping that a 200 mg dose for a 50 lb dog wasn’t “too” toxic.
Then I read this:
A single 200-milligram Ibuprofen tablet can be toxic to a small- to medium-sized dog … and toxic effects can occur within 1 hour to a few days (depending on the size of the dog, the dog’s metabolism rate, kidney health, etc.). However, pets can survive if the condition is recognized, diagnosed, and treated quickly. —Vetstreet
And then this from a veterinarian:
In the past few weeks, I’ve had multiple dog owners bring in their dog for Advil (e.g., Ibuprofen) poisoning. While this is “treatable,” the past few cases have been frustrating to treat. Want to know why? Because the pet owners brought their dogs in too late…
The last 2 pet owners waited 4 to 12 hours to bring their dogs in. They tried to induce vomiting at home, and while they dogs vomited, they didn’t seek further care until hours later, when their dog continued to vomit. Little did they know that the sooner that you seek veterinary attention for treatment, the better the prognosis, the more your dog can be treated, and the less damage it will cause them! These owners didn’t know this, and ended up having to pay more for treatment as a result, with more damage to their dogs in the process.
If your dog eats Ibuprofen, you want to seek veterinary attention immediately. Not 3 to 4 hours after your dog ingests Advil. Not after you’ve tried to induce vomiting several times and are waiting at home for hours to get him (or her) to vomit. Get to the vet now. Even if it means having to get up in the middle of the night to get to an emergency veterinarian.
— Dr. Justine Lee, DVM
That was enough to convince me that I needed to call the vet right away — even though my dog wasn’t showing any symptoms at this point.
My Dog’s Treatment For Ibuprofen Poisoning
I called the vet — just to make sure I shouldn’t induce vomiting or something first.
Before I could even finish my sentence over the phone, the receptionist at the vet’s office said, “You need to get her here right away.” So I did.
By the time I got to the veterinarian, it had been about 45 minutes since my dog ate the 200 mg capsule of fast-acting Ibuprofen.
They rushed us into a room, got her weight & vitals, and the vet administered 60 ml of Toxiban.
Toxiban is a black liquid (activated charcoal) that bonds to toxins inside the body. The veterinarian put the Toxiban into a huge syringe and forced it into my dog’s throat. (They said she took it better than most dogs usually do.)
It cost a total of $60 for this 20-minute vet visit and treatment.
My dog recovered well after eating a 200 mg Ibuprofen pill. There were no adverse effects from the Toxiban or from the Ibuprofen itself. (Her poop looked like black tar for a little while, but the vet said to expect that.)
I’m told dogs that are on medications are likely to experience more serious complications from the Ibuprofen mixing with their regular meds.
Should You Induce Vomiting… Or Not?
The vet said if my dog had ingested a 1 single tablet of Ibuprofen (instead of a fast-acting capsule filled with liquid Ibuprofen), they would have just made her vomit it up right away — and she probably would have been fine.
But since it was the liquid form of Advil, there was no way to keep that out of her bloodstream — other than to force it to bond with the charcoal inside her stomach and upper gastrointestinal tract and get it out of her body as quickly as possible.
This is important:
If an oral emetic such as syrup of Ipecac, Hydrogen Peroxide or Apomorphine Hydrochloride is used, activated charcoal should not be administered until after emesis (vomiting). Emesis is most productive if performed within 2 to 3 hours post ingestion. Feeding the animal a small moist meal before inducing vomiting can increase the chances of an adequate emesis. Emetics generally empty 40% to 60% of the stomach contents. Emesis is contraindicated with ingestion of alkalis, acids, corrosive agents or hydrocarbons due to the risk of chemical burns or aspiration. Dilution with milk or water in combination with a demulcent is recommended in cases of corrosive ingestion. —Lloyd, Inc., manufacturer of Toxiban
TIP: If your dog gets the Toxiban treatment (activated charcoal) at the vet, it’s important to let that settle in her stomach for 10 to 15 minutes before riding home in the car. Otherwise, your dog may vomit charcoal all over your vehicle — and that’s very hard to clean up!
Here’s another dog owner’s similar experience, and her conversation with a veterinarian online.
More About Ibuprofen Toxicity In Dogs
I have since learned these valuable gems regarding dogs and Ibuprofen from Dr. Eric Dunayer, DVM:
#1 – How quickly Ibuprofen affects a dog…
About 80% of Ibuprofen is absorbed when taken orally in humans.
In dogs, 60% to 86% of the Ibuprofen dose is absorbed.
In humans, the time to reach peak plasma concentrations varies from 47 to 120 minutes — depending on the formulation:
- Liquid forms reach peak concentrations soonest, chewables next, and tablets last.
- Ingesting Ibuprofen with food decreases the peak plasma concentration and increases the time to reach it.
In dogs, the elimination half-life is 3.9 to 5.3 hours.
#2 – How the dosage of Ibuprofen affects the symptoms in dogs…
Ibuprofen has a narrow margin of safety in dogs.
Vomiting, abdominal pain, hematemesis, and diarrhea can be seen within 24 hours of your dog ingesting Ibuprofen.
- Single, acute overdoses as low as 25 mg/kg can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, and anorexia in dogs.
- At doses greater than 175 mg/kg, all of the above are likely — plus hematemesis, melena, polyuria or polydipsia, oliguria, uremia, and acute renal failure.
- At doses greater than 400 mg/kg, all of the above are expected — plus central nervous system effects including depression, shock, seizures, ataxia, and coma.
- The minimum lethal dose in dogs is about 600 mg/kg — death is most likely, in addition to all of the above symptoms.
#3 – How to treat a dog that ate Ibuprofen pills…
After an acute Ibuprofen overdose, rapid and aggressive decontamination — as with most toxicants — is important.
In clinically normal animals (those not vomiting or showing neurologic signs), attempt vomiting — especially within 2 hours of the ingestion of Ibuprofen. Also, administer multiple doses of activated charcoal (every 6 to 8 hours for 24 hours).
For ingestion of low doses of Ibuprofen (< 100 mg/kg), over-the-counter liquid antacids containing aluminum or magnesium hydroxide can be used. Do not use agents that contain bismuth subsalicylate — such as Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate.
For ingestion of higher doses of Ibuprofen or when gastrointestinal signs have occurred, a combination therapy of acid reducers, sucralfate, and misoprostol may be used. Continue treatment for 7 to 14 days or more, depending on the dose and clinical signs.
At doses that may cause renal failure, diuresis with intravenous fluids given at twice the daily maintenance
rate (120 ml/kg/day) for at least 48 hours is recommended.
#4 – The bottom line:
Ibuprofen ingestion is a common and potentially life-threatening problem in animals.
The prognosis depends on the amount ingested, severity of signs, and treatment received.
Prompt and aggressive decontamination and supportive care are essential to improve the chances of recovery.
The information for the 4 points above provided by Dr. Eric Dunayer, DVM — as printed in the toxicology brief entitled, Managing Common Poisonings In Companion Animals.
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).