Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most commonly used drugs in both human and veterinary medicine to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. It is likely that NSAIDS, over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed, can be found in most homes for personal use, as well as prescribed NSAIDs for a pet’s use. Toxicity is categorized as acute or chronic. Toxicity occurs when a well-meaning owner administers an NSAID, the pet voluntarily ingests a palatable form, the wrong dosage was prescribed or the pet’s health is compromised in some way. Symptoms of NSAID toxicity vary greatly and may not present immediately. If ingestion is suspected, fast action is required to prevent irreversible damage or death.

NSAIDs are also routinely used in human and veterinary medicine. Because of this, NSAID toxicity is a common emergency within veterinary medicine. There are many different types of NSAIDS, some that are safe for human consumption and others that are safe for pet consumption, neither of which are interchangeable. Each medication has a different toxic dose and margin of safety that is dependent on weight and general health status of the pet. NSAIDs have a variety of brand and generic names, the tables below reflect those used in both human and veterinary medicine.

NSAIDs Used in Human Medicine

Name Additional Name(s)
Ibuprofen Advil, Motrin, Midol, Addaprin, Propinal, Nuprin, Haltran, Genpril, Bufen, etc.
Naproxen Aleve, Naprosyn, Aflaxen, Anaprox, Naprelan
Aspirin Ascriptin Aspirtab, Bayer, Ecotrin, Entercote, Genacote, Halfprin, Ninoprin, etc.
Celebrex Celecoxib
Diclofenac Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren, Zipsor, Zorvolex

OTC Angalesic (Pain) Used in Human Medicine

Name Additional Name(s)
Acetaminophen Tylenol, Paracetamol, Aceta, Panadol

NSAIDs Used in Veterinary Medicine

Name Additional Name(s)
Rimadyl Carprofen
Galliprant Grapiprant
Previcox, Equioxx Firox, Firocoxib
Celebrex Celecoxib
Diclofenac Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren, Zipsor, Zorvolex
Metacam Meloxicam, Meloxidyl, Loxicom, OroCAM, Rheumocam
Piroxicam Feldene, Brexidol

Acute toxicity occurs when a large amount of a toxin is ingested at once. Acute toxicity typically occurs when an owner unintentionally overdoses on a pet with the intention of managing pain or when a pet voluntarily ingests a large amount of palatable NSAIDS, such as a veterinary-formulated NSAID. This usually occurs with an NSAID formulated for human consumption, but can also occur with an NSAID formulated for veterinary use. Chronic toxicity occurs when a small amount of a toxin is ingested over a period of time. Chronic toxicity occurs when an owner consistently doses a pet over time or when a pet is unknowingly compromised and is unable to metabolize the prescribed NSAID appropriately.

Ingestion most often occurs when a well-intentioned owner administers the drug to their pet in an effort to manage pain in a home setting. Owners often reach for these medications in an attempt to manage pain in a pinch and to save money by evading a visit to a veterinarian. It is common for a pet to voluntarily ingest a dangerous amount of an NSAID if a palatable version is accessible to them. Occasionally, NSAID toxicity can occur when an inaccurate dose is prescribed by a veterinarian. It can also occur on an appropriate dose if a pet is compromised in some way and is unable to metabolize the drug effectively.

There are many different types of NSAIDs used in human and veterinary medicine. Because of this, side effects can vary greatly. Common side effects of acute NSAID toxicity are lethargy, inappetence, pale gums, excessive drooling, vomiting (with or without blood), diarrhea (with or without blood), increased thirst and urination, abdominal pain, seizures, coma, and death. Chronic NSAID toxicity side effects include those listed above, as well as weight loss, swelling of the limbs and face, and abnormal heart rate and blood pressure. NSAIDs damage the stomach and intestinal lining, which could ultimately lead to stomach or intestinal ulcerations, perforations, and sepsis. Kidney damage is also likely to occur and can lead to acute kidney failure. End-stage NSAID toxicity can damage the brain, which can lead to an altered mental status, seizures, syncope, coma, and death.

NSAIDs are easily accessible but are never a safe or viable option for pets unless prescribed by a veterinarian. If a pet is in need of an NSAID, it is best to consult a veterinarian and seek care if needed. If your pet is on an NSAID long-term, be sure to schedule regular wellness exams and recheck bloodwork as directed by their attending veterinarian to ensure your pet’s health status is being maintained or improving. Avoiding a veterinary visit in order to save money or for convenience may end up costing thousands and your pet’s life. Practice responsible pet ownership and save yourself money, as well as your pet’s health, by scheduling regular veterinary wellness visits before a problem arises and during a time of need.

If you suspect your pet has ingested an NSAID, go to a veterinarian for immediate, emergency treatment.

For an emergency during hours, please call 775-738-6116 or 775-388-8250 after hours.

Pet Poison Helpline can be reached at 855-764-7661, 24/7.