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Please Talk to Your Vet Before Giving Human Medicines to Your Pet

The other night I worked on a sad case. A wonderfully sweet dog came to see me. The dog was in a great deal of...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  May 5th 2009


The other night I worked on a sad case. A wonderfully sweet dog came to see me. The dog was in a great deal of pain, most likely from a pinched nerve in his neck. He would spontaneously vocalize (that is to say, scream) in agony every few minutes. It was very hard to watch the poor dog suffer so intensely.

About two hours before they brought him to me, the dog’s owners gave him 200 mg of ibuprofen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, that is the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin) to try to help with his pain.

Ibuprofen has a low safety margin in dogs. It is potentially toxic. Fortunately, the quantity that the clients had administered to their pet was well below the toxic dose.

Unfortunately, the ibuprofen prevented me from treating the dog’s pain as aggressively as I would have preferred. Dogs who receive ibuprofen should not receive any other NSAIDs or steroids for at least three days or they will be at very high risk of suffering from gastrointestinal ulcers. Of course, NSAIDs and steroids are the main drugs used to treat neck pain in dogs.

Being unable to use these classes of medicine made helping the dog much more complicated. I had to hospitalize him and give him drugs related to morphine to make him comfortable.

Talk to your vet before you administer any human medications to your pet.

Photo: Sage Ross.