is ibuprofen bad for cats

Although relatively safe in humans, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs can be extremely harmful to cats. Poisoning may happen when pets get into the owner’s medications. In some cases, owners may administer ibuprofen to treat their pet’s pain prior to consulting a veterinarian.

A closer look: NSAID (Ibuprofen) Poisoning in Cats

NSAIDs are essential drugs that cats and other animals use to treat pain and inflammation. Since they metabolize NSAIDs differently than other animals, cats are particularly toxic to NSAIDs.

The most widely recognized brands of human-dosage NSAIDs include

• Acetylsalicylic acid (brand name Aspirin)

• Ibuprofen (brand name Advil)

• Naproxen (brand name Aleve)

• Diclofenac (brand name Voltaren)

Note: Tylenol (acetaminophen) is not an NSAID. All drugs, though, have the potential to act as poisons if taken in large enough quantities. Medication storage and administration should always be done with caution. Never administer medication to an animal without veterinary guidance.

NSAID toxicosis symptoms are associated with reduced organ blood flow. Reduced blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract causes irritation and ulceration, which leads to blood in the feces or vomit. Kidney failure is caused by reductions in kidney blood flow and manifests as increased drinking, urination, and vomiting. Acute liver failure brought on by reductions in blood flow to the liver causes weakness, collapse, and seizures. Depending on the amount of NSAID consumed, symptoms can vary in severity and onset time, with higher doses exhibiting more severe symptoms earlier.

The dosage and length of time before treatment starts determine the prognosis after NSAID consumption. If a small dose is consumed and treated promptly, the effects on health may be negligible or nonexistent. If a large dose is consumed without anyone seeing and is not treated right away, it could be fatal. For cats, the consumption of a solitary 200mg ibuprofen tablet is adequate to induce toxicosis. In the event of an emergency NSAID toxicosis suspicion, prompt veterinary care is necessary.

NSAID toxicosis describes ingestion of toxic doses of NSAID medication. Situations where NSAID toxicosis can occur in cats include:

  • accidental use of a toxic dose of an NSAID in animals or their ingestion of one
  • scavenging of a toxic dosage of an NSAID prescribed for a different household pet, especially for medications intended for dogs When compared to feline NSAIDs, canine NSAID dosages are frequently higher and can result in toxicosis in cats. Furthermore, NSAID formulations for pets are frequently in a palatable form, increasing the risk of accidental ingestion.
  • Administration or scavenging of a human NSAID

A single toxic dose of a drug or the cumulative effect of several small doses given over time can cause NSAID toxicosis.

NSAID toxicosis symptoms vary depending on the body system impacted.

Steps to Recovery

When the time and amount of consumption are known, the goal of treatment is to reduce absorption. Treatments include:

  • Inducing vomiting
  • Gastric lavage to remove medication from the stomach
  • Activated charcoal administration to bind toxins

It should be noted that administering activated charcoal and inducing vomiting should only be done under veterinarian supervision. There is no safe way to induce vomiting at home.

There is no specific antidote to NSAID toxicosis. Treatment for developing symptoms centers on bolstering the body systems with supportive therapies, like:

  • Intravenous fluid therapy
  • Correcting electrolyte imbalances
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Medications that protect the intestinal lining

There is no predetermined sequence in which symptoms appear, and the time it takes for symptoms to appear varies. In severe cases, symptoms may appear as soon as 4 hours after ingestion. Liver or kidney failure cases can be fatal in a matter of days. It may take days or weeks for mild cases, or cases of repeated ingestion, to show symptoms.

Prevention focuses on correct storage and administration of medication. Strategies include:

  • Storage of medication in pet-proof containers
  • administering medication in compliance with the veterinarian’s prescription guidelines

Testing and diagnosis

The timing and dosage of NSAID toxicosis investigations and treatments are crucial. When the amount and timing of ingestion are known, the diagnosis is obvious. When veterinary intervention is initiated as soon as possible, therapeutic efforts immediately transition to gastric decontamination.

When the mode of ingestion is unknown, the diagnosis entails:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood work
  • Urinalysis
  • Diagnostic imaging, such as ultrasound

For NSAID toxicosis, there is no particular test, and a diagnosis is established only after ruling out other potential underlying causes. Alongside treatment, investigation is common, and serial blood work is frequently used to evaluate organ damage.


How much ibuprofen is toxic to a cat?

Ingestion of a large dose that is not witnessed and is left untreated for some time may be fatal. Ingestion of a single 200mg ibuprofen tablet is sufficient to cause toxicosis in cats. Suspicion of NSAID toxicosis is an emergency and requires immediate veterinary treatment.

What happens if a cat licks ibuprofen?

Large doses of ibuprofen can result in kidney failure, liver failure, and neurological issues such as tremors and seizures. If you’ve given or your cat accidentally ingested ibuprofen, contact Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 and your veterinarian to assess the situation.

What anti-inflammatory is safe for cats?

Only two NSAIDs are FDA-approved for cats: meloxicam (sold under several brand and generic names) and robenacoxib (sold under the brand name ONSIOR). Meloxicam is approved for cats as a one-time-only injection to control pain and inflammation after spaying, neutering, and orthopedic surgery.

Can I give my cat crushed ibuprofen?

NEVER EVER give your cat Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Tylenol is a caticide. It will shut down your cat’s liver, and be a very painful way to die. Ibuprofen will cause acute kidney failure, and unless we can treat it immediately, your cat could die.