Ibuprofen poisoning in dogs and cats


  • Ibuprofen is toxic to cats and dogs and can cause serious health issues if eaten.
  • Lower doses of ibuprofen can cause a stomach upset and stomach ulcers, while higher doses can cause kidney problems.
  • If you suspect your pet has eaten ibuprofen, contact your vet immediately for guidance and treatment.

Can I give my dog or cat ibuprofen?

A photo of rat poison

No, you should never give your dog or cat ibuprofen. While it is safe for humans, it is toxic to both cats and dogs and can cause serious health problems such as:

  • Gastrointestinal problems: Ibuprofen irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines, which can lead to stomach ulcers. In severe cases, these stomach ulcers can perforate (create a hole) in the guts.
  • Kidney damage: Ibuprofen can damage the kidneys, and at high doses can cause kidney failure.
  • Brain issues: Very high doses of ibuprofen can affect the brain, causing seizures.

If your pet is in need of pain relief, always ask your vet for advice. It’s important to keep all forms of ibuprofen (tablets, capsules, granules, liquid, gels, mousse, and sprays) out of your pet’s reach and avoid letting them lick you if you have applied ibuprofen to your skin.


Ibuprofen poisoning in dogs and cats can lead to many symptoms. The time it takes for symptoms to appear can vary from a few hours to a few days (depending on how much ibuprofen is ingested). Symptoms can include:

Remember, ibuprofen poisoning is serious, so if you think your pet may have eaten some, don’t wait for symptoms to develop and contact a vet straight away.


Your vet will make a diagnosis based on what you tell them and your pet’s clinical signs. It may be helpful if you can show your vet the ibuprofen packet and give them a rough idea of how much your pet may have eaten. If your vet is concerned about your dog’s kidneys, they may run some blood and urine tests to check them.


Treatment for ibuprofen poisoning in cats and dogs depends on how much was eaten, when it was eaten, and the symptoms they are showing.

Treatment can include the following:

  • Inducing vomiting: If your pet ate the ibuprofen recently, your vet might make them sick to remove as much of it from their stomach as possible.
  • Activated charcoal: Giving activated charcoal (a black liquid given by mouth) can help absorb ibuprofen – but only works if ibuprofen has been eaten recently.
  • Medications: To protect the stomach and to support kidney function may be needed.
  • Hospitalisation and supportive care: Your pet may need hospitalisation and supportive care such as a fluid drip to maintain hydration and protect the kidneys. If your pet is having seizures, they will need intensive care and anti-seizure medication. If your pet has lost a lot of blood due to a perforated ulcer, they may need a blood transfusion.


The outlook for pets with ibuprofen poisoning varies. Many pets recover if they are treated quickly and have not ingested very high doses. However, pets who have ingested large amounts of ibuprofen, or developed kidney failure have a poorer prognosis.

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet immediately if you think your pet has eaten ibuprofen, as getting them treated early can make a big difference to their recovery. Never wait for symptoms to appear or attempt to treat ibuprofen poisoning at home.


Treatment for ibuprofen poisoning can become very expensive, so it’s important to speak openly with your vet about the cost of treatment, your finances, and what you think is right for your dog or cat.

Consider insuring your dog or cat as soon as you get them, before any signs of illness start, to ensure you have financial support to care for them.


Which painkillers are safe for dogs and cats?

Only ever give your cat or dog painkillers that have been prescribed by your vet. In some circumstances, your vet may prescribe your pet a human painkiller, but this will be under strict supervision and at a specific dose suitable for your pet.

Published: September 2023

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.