Can You Give a Dog Motrin for Pain?

When you or your family members are suffering with mild pain, it is natural to reach for over-the-counter pain medication such as Aspirin or Ibuprofen. When pets get sick or injured, many owners wonder if their painkillers are safe for their dogs too.

While some human pain relief is safe for dogs, many are not. This is due to certain ingredients in the medication that are toxic to dogs.

Can I give my dog Motrin for pain relief?

Unfortunately, Motrin is one of those drugs that dogs should not be given. Motrin is an over-the-counter pain medication used to treat mild pain, inflammation and fever caused by headaches, back pain, menstrual cramps or minor injury.

Motrin contains Ibuprofen, which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It is also found in Midol and Advil.

Motrin can cause symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers

Side effects of Motrin can be life-threatening if veterinary treatment is not sought quickly.

How does Motrin work?

Motrin is an NDSAID that reduces pain and inflammation by blocking cyclooxygenase, which is an enzyme involved in the production of prostaglandins. These hormones are responsible for the development of pain, inflammation and fever.

The problem is that prostaglandins are also vital in maintaining blood flow to the kidneys, helping with normal blood clotting and producing a mucus that protects the lining of the digestive tract.

Cyclooxygenase has two distinct forms, COX-1 and COX-2. While both are involved in the formation of pain and inflammation, COX-1 is the enzyme that is also involved in the blood clotting, blood flow to the kidneys and digestive mucus production.  NSAIDs that contain Ibuprofen block both COX-1 and COX-2.

While most humans suffer no side effects and others only mild symptoms, dogs are much more sensitive to the effects caused by blocking the enzyme COX-1. This is why Motrin and other Ibuprofen drugs are not recommended for dogs. Even in small doses, Motrin can cause life-threatening side effects.

What can you give a dog for pain relief at home?

There are several over-the-counter medications that a veterinarian may recommend in small doses, but generally, the best options are those specially formulated for dogs. Due to their reaction to the blocking of certain prostaglandins, pet drug companies have worked hard to produce medications that block pain and inflammation, while having no impact on other important prostaglandin functions.

With your veterinarian’s advice, you may give your dog small doses of buffered aspirin, but this should be temporary until you can get a prescription from your vet for a dog-specific pain medication.

The most common NSAIDs designed for dogs are Metacam and Loxicom. Your veterinarian may also prescribe:

  • Deracoxib (commonly called Deramaxx)
  • Carprofen (commonly called Rimadyl)
  • Firocoxib (commonly called Previcox)
  • Etodolac (commonly called EtoGesic)

These painkillers have been formulated to relieve pain, inflammation and fever in dogs and cats, without blocking COX-1 prostaglandins. This means your dog is not at risk of developing blood clotting issues, stomach ulcers or kidney damage, which are all common in dogs given human pain medication.

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