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A Guide To NSAID Toxicity In Pets

Aimee Labbate
  • Aimee Labbate

  • RCVS: 700039

 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a very common class of pain relief medications that include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. They work by blocking the production of inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins thereby reducing pain and swelling. While there are veterinary specific NSAIDs for dogs (e.g. Rimadyl) and cats (e.g. Metacam), the human versions are toxic to animals and are a common cause of poisoning.

What are the symptoms of NSAID toxicity?

When NSAIDs are ingested in toxic amounts, this can cause severe gastric ulceration and even sudden (acute) kidney failure in dogs and cats. Symptoms of toxicity normally develop within 2 hours of ingestion, although they can be delayed in some cases, and can include:

  • Vomiting that may contain blood
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dark tarry stools (due to the presence of digested blood)
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale gums and anaemia
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures and death

How is NSAID toxicity treated?

The treatment will depend on the amount and type of NSAID ingested and how severely the animal is affected. If the animal is seen promptly then the vet can give an injection to induce vomiting, removing as much as possible from the dog’s stomach. Activated charcoal can then be given to reduce absorption of any remaining NSAID in the stomach.

Medication is then given for around 7 days to help protect the stomach from any effects of the NSAIDs. It is normally recommended that the animal then receives 48 hours of intravenous fluids (a drip) to support the kidneys, and that kidney function is monitored closely every few days using repeated blood tests.

Will my pet recover?

The prognosis will depend on how much NSAID was ingested, over what time period and how quickly the pet received treatment. With lower doses and prompt treatment the outlook is usually good, but the prognosis will be poorer in animals that have received higher doses and where treatment has been delayed.

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NSAID toxicity in pets

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a very common class of pain relief medications that include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. While there are veterinary specific NSAIDs for dogs (e.g. Rimadyl) and cats (e.g. Metacam), the human versions are toxic to animals and are a common cause of poisoning. They can cause gastric ulceration and kidney failure, so symptoms can include bloody vomit, dark tarry stools, pale gums, increased thirst and urination and abdominal pain.

Treatment depends on the amount ingested and the severity of symptom and is most successful when given promptly. With lower doses and prompt treatment the outlook is usually good, but the prognosis will be poorer in animals that have received higher doses and where treatment has been delayed.


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