Pet Poison: NSAID Pain Killers

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nsaid pain killers are toxic to dogs and cats.Dr. Fiona is a veterinarian guest blogger for pet insurance provider, Pets Best.

Common human NSAIDs have varying degrees of toxicity to dogs and cats and should be avoided in pets.

What are NSAIDs?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) control pain by reducing inflammation and blocking precursors to pain.

Common Human NSAIDs

The most common include:


Ibuprofen (Advil)

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Naproxen (Aleve)

Are There Safe Animal NSAIDs?

Yes, there are animal specific NSAIDs available by veterinary prescription. That being said, not all dog-safe drugs are safe for cats!  Never give a drug prescribed for one pet to another without veterinary advise.

Many animal medications have been flavored in order to make administering the pills easier for us.  Dogs will not uncommonly mistake these for treats if they are within reach. Even if the drug is safe for pets, an overdose can occur if too much is ingested.

Why Are Human NSAIDs Toxic to Pets?

NSAIDs work by blocking the production of prostaglandins.  Although prostaglandins are responsible for pain formation, they also are important in many other body functions, such as maintaining blood flow to the kidneys, and producing a protective mucous lining in the stomach.  NSAID toxicity can cause kidney damage, stomach ulcerations and can damage the liver as well.

My Dog or Cat ate some human NSAIDs – What Do I Do?

You should immediately call your veterinarian for treatment.  The sooner treatment is started, the better the outcome.

Signs and Symptoms

Clinical signs of NSAID toxicity in animals include non-specific changes such as lethargy and anorexia.  More specific clinical signs have to do with the organ or organs damaged, for example, vomiting blood in an animal with a stomach ulcer.

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-Stomach bleeding and ulcers are one of the most common clinical signs seen and include: abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea due to the inhibition of prostaglandins necessary to maintain GI health.

-Kidney damage may occur but it is less common.  This happens due to constricted blood flow to the kidneys.  You may see an increase in thirst and urination.

-Neurologic signs such as wobbliness and stumbling, seizures and even coma can occur with large overdoses.

-Liver injury is less common with acute NSAID toxicosis, and more commonly due to chronic use since NSAIDs are metabolized by the liver.

-Platelet function can be compromised, and clinical signs would include bruising and bleeding.

Veterinarian Treatment

Treatment depends on the amount of overdose and how long ago the drug was given.  If the drug was just ingested, your vet will likely make your pet vomit and administer activated charcoal to ‘soak up’ any residual drug.  Since the clinical signs can take several days to occur, hospitalization with stomach protectants and fluid diuresis to protect the kidneys might be instituted.

Actual Claims Examples for NSAID Poisonings

Patrick, a mixed breed dog

Cost for Veterinarian treatment: $1,932.75

Pets Best Insurance reimbursed: $1,466.20

 Ruffles, a Cocker Spaniel

Cost for Veterinarian treatment: $782.96

Pets Best Insurance reimbursed: $626.37

Are you financially prepared if you dog or cat eats human NSAIDs? Pets Best Insurance has dog insurance and cat insurance plans that reimburse off the veterinarian bill. Upon enrolling, you can choose from 70% up to 100% reimbursement. Check out pet insurance reviews to hear from Pets Best Insurance customers.

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Questions? We’d love to hear from you. Call Pets Best at 877-738-7237

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