Dog & Cat Toxicosis From Human Medication

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen are used daily by millions to reduce inflammation, fever, or pain. Many can be bought over the counter in the form of a tablet, capsule, or liquid, but others may require a prescription. Although it may seem like second nature for us to take these medications, they can be extremely dangerous to our pets. This is because animals do not metabolize many NSAIDs in the same manner that humans do and even small exposures may lead to gastrointestinal damage, organ injury, or neurological signs.

Aspirin can also be referred to as salicylate, or formally as acetylsalicylic acid. It is commonly formulated by itself and  taken as a tablet, but it can also be an active ingredient in various cold and flu medications, pain-relieving creams, or suppositories. Even though aspirin is the most common salicylate, they are also found under different active ingredients in various other products.  Some examples include Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate), oil of wintergreen (methyl salicylate), sunscreen (octyl salicylate, homosalate), or even some acne products (salicylic acid). Not all these salicylates are created equal, and some can even be more potent than aspirin! This means that they can have the same potential risk for poisoning when accidentally ingested by our pets.

It is important that we keep our furry friends safe by only administering pain mediation approved by their veterinarian and carefully stowing away any products that contain NSAIDs. If you suspect your pet has ingested an NSAID, please call Pet Poison Helpline® so our veterinarians and veterinary specialists can provide life-saving expertise for your pet.

Common Clinical Signs With All NSAIDs

  • Vomiting
  • Bloody Vomitus
  • Diarrhea
  • Black-Tarry Stool (indicates gastrointestinal bleeding)
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Abdominal Pain

Additional Overdose Concerns

  • Ibuprofen:    Severe Stomach Ulcers, Anemia, Kidney Failure; Rare: Liver Failure, Tremors, Seizures, Coma
  • Aspirin     Stomach Ulcers, Liver Failure, Kidney Failure
    Disruption in the Body’s Acid-Base Balance
    High Body Temperature, Tremors, Seizures
    Rare: Anemia, Gastrointestinal Perforation
  • Naproxen:   Stomach Ulcers, Kidney Failure, Anemia, Collapse, Seizures, Facial Twitching, Sepsis