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Health & Wellness

Can I give my dog Advil?

No (Remember: Human medicines are for humans, not dogs).

Seeing your dog hurt or in pain is something all pet parents dread. The thing is, dogs can’t tell you what’s wrong or how serious their level of pain is, and it’s not always possible to get to a vet as quickly as you’d like. So it makes sense you’d want to do whatever you can to help ease your pup’s pain, even if that means going to your medicine cabinet. 

But before you grab that bottle of Advil to medicate your dog, you need to know it’s a bad idea. You should never give your pup Advil. 

Advil is not safe for dogs

Chances are, you’ve had a vet prescribe medicines to your pet that you know are also available for humans. So it’s natural to wonder if easily-accessible painkillers, like Advil, are OK for your dog. But the answer is no. 

“Advil should never be used,” Dr. Nichole Sabo, DVM, a veterinarian at Veterinary Care Everywhere, says. “Advil is a trade name for ibuprofen, a type of human drug known as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). This class of drug is known to cause serious side effects if not used as labeled. Such side effects include gastrointestinal ulceration, kidney and liver damage and even death.”

RELATED: Can you give dogs ibuprofen?

Steps to take if you suspect your dog is in pain

Since Advil isn’t safe, but you suspect your pet is hurting, your best bet is to call your vet and ask for a consult. Because animals can’t communicate the way humans can, any subtle change to your dog’s behavior that lasts for more than a day or so should be checked out. And if you know your dog is injured or hurting, the sooner you can get to the vet, the better. 

“Pets can show pain in a variety of ways. Pets don’t always whine or cry to show pain. Some signs might be vague, such as restlessness or an inability to settle, licking at a particular area, a loss of appetite or interest in food, limping or lethargy,” Dr. Sabo says. “If a pet is showing signs of pain, it’s important they be evaluated by a licensed veterinarian to identify the cause of the pain and to safely start a veterinary-approved pain medication.” 

And that’s just it — there are plenty of dog-safe pain medications that can be prescribed by your vet. There’s no need to pull medicine from your own stash to share with your dog. 

“Human medicine is for treating humans. A very good rule of thumb is: Don’t give any human medications to your pet unless under the advice of a licensed veterinarian,” Dr. Sabo says. 

This is even true in emergencies when your pet is clearly in a lot of pain. It’s better to get your dog to the vet or emergency clinic immediately.  

What painkillers are safe for dogs? 

If you’re waiting for your dog’s vet appointment and he still seems to be in pain, just do what you can to make him feel comfortable. Make sure he has a soft spot to lie down, access to water and no undue pressure on the area that appears hurt. And, of course, you can ask your vet over the phone if there’s anything you can give to your dog at home. 

Some vets will make suggestions based on your dog’s age, size and health history, but remember, your vet can do this because they have your dog’s medical history and a wealth of knowledge you don’t have. If your vet prescribes your dog a human medication for temporary pain relief, don’t assume that it’s always safe or appropriate to use with all dogs, all the time. You should never use Advil or any other human pain medication without the express direction to do so from your vet.

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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