Can I Give My Dog an Over the Counter Anti-Inflammatory?

If your dog requires pain medication, take him to the vet rather than giving him a product designed for people.
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You might pop an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) when you feel a headache coming on or you were too much of a weekend warrior. If your dog's muscles start aching after excessive exercise, resist the urge to give him any over-the-counter pain medication designed for people or you could end up with a huge vet bill or even a dead dog. Your veterinarian can prescribe suitable medication for your pet.

Ibuprofen and Naproxen

Ibuprofen, the active ingredient in pain killers such as Advil, Nuprin and Motrin, is extremely toxic in dogs. Canines receiving low doses of ibuprofen might suffer from stomach ulceration, with symptoms consisting of vomiting, appetite loss and black, tarry stools. The dark feces result from blood. Your dog's stomach could even rupture. Slightly higher doses cause kidney failure, while dogs consuming larger amounts of ibuprofen experience seizures, coma and death if emergency veterinary treatment isn't forthcoming. Naproxen, the active ingredient in Naprosyn and Aleve but designed for longer human pain relief than ibuprofen, has an effect and symptoms similar to ibuprofen ingestion in canines.

Dogs and Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen, marketed under brand names such as Tylenol, causes liver damage in canines. It also harms your pet's red blood cells, rendering them incapable of carrying oxygen throughout his body. Dogs given acetaminophen develop breathing problems, and the face, legs and neck might swell up. The gums of affected dogs turn grayish-brown and the body temperature plummets. Other common symptoms include vomiting and jaundice, or yellowing of the eye white and skin. Dogs might fall into a coma. Only emergency veterinary treatment can save the dog.

Dogs and Aspirin

Before the development of other NSAIDs, veterinarians would recommend aspirin for some canines. However, it is no longer used for dogs because of the availability of safer medications. Long-term use also has the potential to damage joint cartilage. Because every dog metabolizes aspirin differently, a dosage that didn't harm one dog might kill another dog of similar size because of the drug's accumulation in his system. Just two regular aspirin might cause serious organ damage in a medium-sized canine.

Canine Pain Medication

Now that you know the items in your medicine cabinet aren't safe for Fido, don't despair of relieving your best friend's aches and pains. Your vet can prescribe NSAIDs approved for use in dogs. Some of the most frequently prescribed NSAIDs for canines include carprofen -- marketed under the trade names Rimadyl and Novox-- often used for arthritis pain; meloxicam, marketed as Metacam; firocoxib, marketed as Previcox and deracoxib, marketed as Deramaxx. Your vet will determine the correct dosage for your dog, so don't give medication prescribed for one dog to another dog in your household. Even though these drugs are approved for canine use, that doesn't mean they can't have serious side effects. Your vet will inform you of possible issues, including kidney, gastrointestinal and liver problems.