Ibuprofen for Golden Retrievers: Is It Safe?


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Seeing your Golden Retriever in pain can be stressful and anxiety-ridden as a pet parent. We consider our dogs family members, so naturally, we want to relieve their pain.

Considering it’s mostly safe and commonplace for humans to take Ibuprofen, many pet owners may wonder if it is safe to give Ibuprofen to their Golden Retriever?

Golden Retrievers should NEVER be given Ibuprofen unless it’s under the direction of a veterinarian. Ibuprofen has a very narrow safety margin for Golden Retrievers. In addition, Ibuprofen can cause adverse effects, ranging from gastrointestinal issues at smaller doses to coma or death in higher doses. 

Ibuprofen is one of those household items that are safe for humans, even children, in small doses, but not for our pets. So, unfortunately, our pets can easily fall into the trap of, “if it’s safe for us, so it should be for them.” 

So, in this article, we’ll look at why that is not the case with Ibuprofen. We’ll explore why it’s not safe and the symptoms of toxicity at various doses.

In addition, we’ll explore what to do if your Golden Retriever has eaten some and tips to prevent your Golden Retriever from ever getting into this medication.   

Why Is Ibuprofen Bad for Golden Retrievers? 

What is Ibuprofen so bad for Golden Retrievers, even potentially at smaller doses? 

Ibuprofen is typically taken as a pain reliever, and it does well at reducing inflammation as well. Ibuprofen falls into the category of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It includes well-known over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as Advil, Motrin, Midol, and Nuprin

Ibuprofen works by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. This enzyme produces hormone-like substances (prostaglandins) that promote inflammation, fever, and pain. 

Prostaglandins play many other roles in the body, like maintaining adequate blood flow to the kidneys, producing a layer of mucus that protects the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and allowing blood to clot normally. [Source]

The problem in dogs is that the beneficial role of prostaglandins is disrupted and negatively affected. In other words, dogs are highly susceptible to NSAID toxicity from Ibuprofen. 

If left untreated, Ibuprofen can adversely affect the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys. In addition, Ibuprofen may cause seizures or coma in large amounts and can even be fatal.

Moreover, NSAID toxicity from products like Ibuprofen is much more common than you’d think. Drug toxicity from NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen is among the 10th most common forms of poisoning reported to the National Animal Poison Control Center. [Source]

Ibuprofen is dangerous to Golden Retrievers

Toxicity from Ibuprofen can be chronic due to long-term exposure or acute from too large of a dose. 

In fact, out of all animal poisonings, dogs are most commonly poisoned by Ibuprofen, and the poisoning is acute (as in an overdose). The overdose is often due to the dog ingesting multiple tablets after chewing open a bottle. [Source]

Or often a few pills such as Advil are dropped and your Golden Retriever will get to them before you can. It is important to teach your Golden Retriever to “leave it”. It is one of the most important skills to teach a dog.

I used Adrienne Farricelli’s Brain Training For Dogs to teach Bailey his basic obedience skills including “leave it”, and I highly recommend her course. You can read my review on her course here if you’re interested: Online Dog Training Courses: These Are The Ones To Buy

How Is Ibuprofen Toxicity Diagnosed in Golden Retrievers? 

Typically Ibuprofen toxicity is diagnosed by a pet owner suspecting or observing the ingestion of Ibuprofen. For example, you might find an Advil bottle chewed up, and you suspect your Golden Retriever has ingested some. 

Diagnosis from symptoms can be made without known ingestion by your veterinarian, so if you suspect ingestion, contact your vet or pet poison helpline immediately. Bloodwork and urine analysis tests are often used to evaluate organs and confirm toxicity. 

Symptoms of Ibuprofen Toxicity in Golden Retrievers? 

Generally speaking, it is not safe to give your dog any amount of Ibuprofen. However, certain dogs are more sensitive to NSAIDs, so it is often impossible to know what dose is safe. 

If your Golden Retriever has ingested, Ibuprofen symptoms can range from gastrointestinal issues to more severe cases. 

Symptoms of Ibuprofen toxicity include

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sluggish behavior
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
  • Loss of bladder control 
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Abnormally rapid heartbeat
  • Shock
  • Seizures 
  • Coma

Consider that a standard dose of Advil is 200 mg. As you can see from the table below, it does not take much to cause harm, especially in a smaller dog. 

Also, consider that most tablets are sugar-coated, so your dog will typically eat more than just one if given the opportunity.

DoseSymptoms 
25–125 mg/kgVomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, anorexia 
175 to 300 mg/kg All of the above plus vomiting blood, dark tar-like stool, increased thirst, decreased urination, acute renal failure 
> 400 mg/kgAll of the above plus seizures, ataxia, coma, shock 
> 600 mg/kgDeath
Source1 Source2

Even an acute dose of 25 mg/kg can cause vomiting and severe gastrointestinal issues in dogs. 

The table also shows how the severity increases with the dosage consumed. If you suspect your Golden Retriever has consumed large quantities of Ibuprofen, then get it to the pet hospital immediately. 

However, according to the Toxicology Brief by ASPCA, dogs can also show toxicity at very low doses given over time. 

With a dosage of 8 mg/kg/day for 30 days. No clinical signs were seen at this dosage, but the dogs developed gastric ulcers and intestinal inflammation. At 16 mg/kg/day, vomiting, diarrhea, melena, and weight loss were evident by the eighth week of administration.

Avoid giving your Golden Retriever any dose of Ibuprofen, no matter how small. There seem to be adverse effects even at small amounts over time. 

What To Do if You Suspect Your Golden Retriever Has Been Poisoned

The Pet Poison Helpline offers the following advice if you suspect your pet has been poisoned. [Source]

  1. Remove all pets and children from the area, and remove the source of poisoning

  2. Check to make sure your pet is safe. Ensure that your dog is breathing normally and is not exhibiting any symptoms

  3. Collect a sample of the source of poisoning and the packaging, vial, or container, and save it. Take it with you to the veterinarian or pet hospital

  4. Do NOT give your dog home remedies such as milk, food, salt, oil, or hydrogen peroxide

  5. Never induce vomiting without talking to your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline – it may cause more harm

  6. Get help. Call your veterinarian or pet poison helpline immediately.

Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

Call your vet or pet poison helpline if you think your Golden Retriever has ingested Ibuprofen. Don’t wait!

Treatment for Ibuprofen Toxicity in Golden Retrievers

Treatment of toxicity from Ibuprofen depends on whether the dose ingested was chronic or acute. 

Let’s start with the worst-case first. Suppose your Golden Retriever has consumed a large amount of Ibuprofen. In that case, you must get the dog to the pet hospital or veterinarian immediately. If possible, call the hospital while you are transferring the dog so they are expecting you and can prepare.

Suppose ingestion is within two hours or less, and the dog has not been vomiting or showing more severe symptoms. In that case, the veterinarian will often induce vomiting to remove any remaining Ibuprofen from the dog’s stomach. 

However, suppose ingestion is over two hours, or the dog shows neurological symptoms. In that case, the veterinarian will often attempt gastric lavage, which simply means they pump the stomach. The intent is the same as vomiting, to remove the stomach content of toxic substances. 

Active charcoal will also be administered to prevent the intestine from reabsorbing the toxin. It will aid in removing it from the dog’s body. 

The veterinarian will use various other medications to treat the dog’s other symptoms or complications as they arise. Intravenous fluids or “fluid therapy” help stabilize the dog and support the kidneys while addressing dehydration. 

Medications can treat complications such as seizures, coma, vomiting, blood pressure issues, and gastrointestinal upset or ulceration. Surgery may be necessary to address any gastrointestinal perforations.

Veterinarian care will be needed if your Golden Retriever ingests Ibuprofen

Blood transfusions might be used in cases of severe bleeding. 

As you can see, if your Golden Retriever has ingested large quantities of Ibuprofen, it is hazardous. Time is of the essence, and it is necessary to have medical intervention as quickly as possible. 

Treatment for chronic (long-term) toxicity from Ibuprofen may include many treatments discussed depending on the symptoms or complications. Additional medications may consist of Antacids, anti-nausea medications, and gastrointestinal protectants. 

Follow-up after treatment will be required and is dependent on the severity of damage to the stomach, kidneys, and liver. The veterinarian may recommend dietary changes for a short period afterward. 

Additionally, monitoring for liver and kidney function may need to continue for weeks or even months. Supplements and additional medications may also be required to support liver and kidney function. 

Consider this advice from veterinarian Dr. Justine Lee on how critical it is to get your Golden Retriever to the vet immediately,

If your dog eats ibuprofen, you want to seek veterinary attention immediately. Not 3-4 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, DACVECC, DABT

Alternatives to Ibuprofen

If your dog is in pain or has inflammation, there are products designed to be safe, and they are prescribed and monitored by a veterinarian. Like Ibuprofen for humans, these NSAID products help reduce swelling, stiffness, and joint pain, and help with arthritis. 

Common alternatives to Ibuprofen for dogs include:

  • Carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl)
  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • Firocoxib (Previcox)
  • Meloxicam (Metacam )
  • Grapiprant (Galliprant)

However, beware that NSAIDs can worsen kidney, intestinal, or liver problems, even ones prescribed as safe for your dog. 

WebMD [source] suggest monitoring your dog even when on NSAIDs prescribed by your vet. Contact your vet if you notice any of the following symptoms by using the word BEST:

  • B – behavior changes
  • E- eating less
  • S -skin redness, scabs
  • T- tarry stool/diarrhea/vomiting

Prevention

Prevention is better than cure. In other words, to avoid ever having to deal with the potential health issues of your Golden Retriever ingesting Ibuprofen consider these few tips to ensure its safety.

  • Keep all medications in an elevated cabinet
  • Do not store your dog and human medication together. It’s easy to make a mistake and give the wrong medication to your dog (or to take your dog’s medication)
  • Be cautious with all medications, including cold medications
  • If pill pockets have been stuffed with medication, keep them in an elevated cabinet so your Golden Retriever cannot reach them, as their designed to be a yummy treat
  • Take medications over the sink – if any are dropped or spilled the sink will capture them and prevent any from getting on the floor
  • If you drop any tablets on the floor make sure you recover them immediately
  • Keep emergency numbers for your veterinarian or pet poison hotline in an easily accessible place, or add them as contacts in your cellphone

Final Thoughts

Seeing your Golden Retriever in pain is distressing. However, it is NOT safe to provide your Golden Retriever with Ibuprofen without the direction of a veterinarian. 

Even then, care must be taken as low dosages of Ibuprofen over time (and not that long of a time) can cause complications and adverse reactions. 

An overdose of Ibuprofen can be deadly and is especially common in dogs. 

In the case of Ibuprofen, no amount is a safe amount. If you suspect your Golden Retriever has ingested any Ibuprofen, contact your veterinarian or the pet poison helpline immediately.

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