Don't give dogs human medicines warns Tony Buckwell
Stiff legs in the morning
Q: I notice that our Labrador, as he gets older, is starting to have difficulty getting up on his legs first thing in the morning. This was especially noticeable after he had been for a long walk the previous day and we are now limiting his exercise. I was wondering if there is anything I could give him to help relieve his discomfort, such as the ibuprofen tablets that I take myself for this purpose?
A: I would not recommend giving your dog ibuprofen. Unfortunately, people tend to assume that a safe, over-the-counter medicine for humans will also be safe to use for their pets and as a consequence a number of animals are poisoned when their owner attempts treatment. Ibuprofen, while safe for human consumption, can be toxic to dogs and cats.
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). These drugs inhibit an enzyme called cyclooxygenase, which is involved in inflammatory processes. Ibuprofen, however, is a non-selective cyclooxygenase inhibitor, which means it inhibits all types of cyclooxygenase, including enzymes involved in producing substances required in normal body functions. In this respect, ibuprofen interferes with the production of chemicals necessary to maintain the blood supply to the stomach and kidneys.
Dogs — and particularly cats — are much more sensitive to these issues than people and as a consequence ibuprofen has a very narrow safety margin in dogs and is far too toxic to be used to relieve pain in cats.
Ibuprofen toxicity causes ulceration of the stomach, which leads to vomiting, with or without blood, appetite loss and/or stools that are black from digested blood. It also reduces the blood flow to the kidneys, which can result in damage to kidney cells and, ultimately, kidney failure. Kidney damage may be temporary or permanent depending on how much ibuprofen was ingested and how healthy the animal’s kidneys were before poisoning.
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Don’t give dogs ibuprofen
The message is never give human medicines to animals unless specifically instructed to do so by your veterinary surgeon.