Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)


  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are used for reducing high temperatures, swelling and pain.
  • NSAID’s can be used for a few days, or over a long period of time and for a variety of conditions.
  • There are many different types of NSAID available – your vet will choose the most suitable for your pet.
  • NSAIDs should always be given with food.
  • Contact your vet for advice if you’re concerned about any of your pet’s medicines.

Uses for NSAIDs

Swelling (inflammation) is the body’s way of trying to heal itself, too much inflammation can slow healing, which is when anti-inflammatories become necessary.

NSAIDs can be used for a wide range of problems i.e. arthritis, sprain/strains, broken bones, urine infections or after an operation. They can be given as liquid, tablet or injection and can be used in nearly all species, including dogs, cats and rabbits.

Side effects

When considering potential side effects, it’s important to also remember the huge benefits that NSAIDs have. We only tend to use a medicine if its benefits outweigh its potential risks. Your vet will minimise any risks for your pet and advise you what to look out for. Side effects aren't very common, but do occur from time to time.

  • Damage to the stomach and guts. NSAIDs can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach ulcers – for this reason, it’s important to always give NSAIDs with food.
  • Kidney damage and liver damage. If NSAIDs are given over a long period of time, they can take their toll on the kidneys and liver.
  • Side effects are more likely if an overdose is given or they are given with certain other medicines. Only ever give medications that have been prescribed by your vet and stick to the instructions that they have given you.
  • All possible side effects are listed in the paper handout given with a medicine.

Speak to your vet if you are worried about any of your pet’s medicines.

When to contact your vet

Stop giving your pet their NSAIDs and contact your vet if you notice any of the following:

You know your pet best. If they don't have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned, always contact your vet.

Should I give NSAIDs with food?

Always give NSAIDs with food to prevent stomach ulcers.

Can I give my pet ibuprofen or paracetamol?

Never give your pet a human medicine unless your vet has told you to. Human NSAIDs, such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen can poison pets.

Contact your vet ASAP if your pet accidentally eats any human medication.

  • Paracetamol can kill cats
  • Ibuprofen can kill dogs.

In some cases, your vet may prescribe a human medication. They will only do this if there is no alternative and they can prescribe a safe dose.

Published: June 2019

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

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst