The Dangers of Giving Ibuprofen for Cats

Ibuprofen is a widely used and effective drug for relieving pain and inflammation in people.

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug widely used in people as a pain reliever and to reduce fever. Although it is relatively safe for us, ibuprofen can only be administered in small doses to cats , because it can be toxic to them, even going as far as killing.

The most common cause of ibuprofen poisoning of a cat occurs when an owner tries to calm the pain in his cat and administers a dose that he considers appropriate without knowing the dose can be toxic.

The initial toxic effect is bleeding from stomach ulcers . In addition to ulcers, increasing ibuprofen doses eventually leads to kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Can I give ibuprofen to my cat?

Cats suffer pain and disease like humans; in fact, we often name many of their illnesses in the context of our own;  for example, cat flu or feline tuberculosis . Cats can also suffer from  arthritis  or inflammation of their muscles, and many of their problems can be related to stress.

But a cat’s biology is completely different from ours , and they don’t get the same positive effects from ibuprofen. Cats only need to drink very small amounts to suffer from ibuprofen poisoning.

The main reason ibuprofen is used is to reduce the presence of prostaglandins in pain-related injuries. Without prostaglandins, there is less inflammation and therefore less pain, but keep in mind that prostaglandins are responsible for normal kidney blood flow and protection of the stomach. This is the cause of ibuprofen’s toxic properties in pets.


Symptoms associated with ibuprofen poisoning

Ibuprofen poisoning can affect a cat that has even taken a small amount. There are many symptoms associated with it:

  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Black stools
  • Vomiting blood
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Dehydration

Some of these symptoms can be confused with other problems that cats can have. Appetite and digestive problems can be associated with a change in diet or stress. Weakness can be an early sign of arthritis, and lethargy can be due to a chemical imbalance.

It is important to recognize symptoms quickly and act very quickly. If you are not sure if your cat’s symptoms are associated with ibuprofen poisoning, it is best to consult your vet.

Ibuprofen Poisoning Diagnosis

First, the vet will want to know when the feed took place and how much ibuprofen the cat has ingested.

Tests including complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis will be performed to assess kidney function.

If blood has been produced in the vomit or feces, the vet will want to perform imaging studies to see if the stomach has been perforated.

Effects of ibuprofen on the cat

The ibuprofen blocks COX-2 enzymes , which normally have a protective effect on the mucosal barrier of the  tract  gastrointestinal, normally keep blood flowing to the kidneys and help regulate  the  function  platelet.

When COX-2 enzymes are inhibited, the mucous lining of the gastrointestinal tract is damaged, causing symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, intestinal disorders, and  the  formation of gastric ulcers  . Reduced blood flow to the kidneys results in kidney damage . The reduction in platelet aggregation leads to an increased tendency to bleed abnormally.

When ibuprofen is ingested, it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.

In cats, the drug is recycled over and over in the body through the liver rather than being eliminated from the body. This recycling allows repeated exposure and is responsible for the poisoning effects.

Several risk factors can increase the negative side effects of ibuprofen.  These factors can be: high doses of the drug, pre-existing kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease, liver disease, dehydration, low blood pressure, heart disease, stress, trauma, spinal injury, surgery or anesthesia, age, and interactions with other medications. Young kittens and older cats are at the highest risk.


Treatment of ibuprofen poisoning

If ingestion has just occurred and symptoms are not present, induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide . Activated charcoal can be used to absorb ibuprofen poison in the stomach. One may also need  washing  gastric.

In cases where the kidneys have been damaged due to ibuprofen poisoning, fluid therapy and blood or plasma transfusions should be done.

Control of vomiting in cats with antiemetic medications may be recommended  , as well as the use of gastrointestinal protectors. Gastric perforation will require surgical correction. Anti-seizure medications may be necessary if seizures occur.

After 1 to 2 days of treatment, blood tests may be done to examine kidney function after treatment.


Care that the cat will require after treatment

Gastrointestinal protectors should be administered for a minimum of 1 to 2 weeks after ibuprofen poisoning.

Veterinary care is recommended to treat kidney failure and bleeding from stomach ulcers.

While he recovers from the ibuprofen toxicity, feed your cat a bland diet for a day or two. Little by little he returns to a normal diet.

In cases of complete recovery, regular activities can be resumed. Some cats can have long-term damage, such as kidney disease, requiring lifelong treatment.

The best prevention is to give your cat medication only if directed by your vet. Medications that may be safe for people can be fatal to pets. 

Also, make sure all medications are kept out of the reach of curious pets.



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