Whether you can give a dog Aleve is something dog owners may be wondering about, considering the ease of access of this drug being that it's readily available over the counter. However, just because a drug is designed and well-tolerated for use in humans, doesn't make it suitable for animals. Before grabbing that box of Aleve and giving your dog a pill, consider reading this information provided by veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec.
Over The Counter Medications and Dogs
Many medicines are available to humans without a doctor’s prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), although the drugs that are available may vary from one country to another.
While some of these medicines can be used to treat minor complaints in dogs, a drug that is safe for us will not necessarily be safe for dogs.
Conversely, do not assume that a drug that may cause adverse effects in people will do so in dogs. As an example, humans tolerate the painkiller ibuprofen better than dogs do, while dogs tolerate corticosteroids better than we do.
Generally speaking, the list of over-the-counter medicines that can be used on dogs includes the following:
- Certain types of antidiarrheals
- Certain types of antihistamines
- Certain cough medicines
- Certain emetics and antiemetics
- Certain eye medicines
- Certain gastric acid-reducing drugs
- Certain laxatives and enemas
- Certain topical medicines
- Holistic therapies
But what about Aleve? Can Aleve be safely used in dogs? If you want to be a responsible dog parent, read below to find out the answer.
Can You Give a Dog Aleve?
Aleve is the manufacturer’s name of naproxen – a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Naproxen acts by reducing the hormones that cause inflammation and blocking the pathways that trigger pain in the body. Therefore, Aleve is used to treat minor and temporary pain and aches such as gout attacks, menstrual cramps, backache, headache, toothache and muscular ache.
It can also be used for treating the common cold and for temporary management of mild fevers. Last but not least, Aleve is ideal for dealing with arthritis-related issues such as joint pain, swelling and stiffness.
As previously stated, Aleve is a good choice when managing minor pain attacks in humans. However, generally speaking, when it comes to dogs, NSAIDs registered for humans are not always a good idea.
So if the question is whether human NSAIDs are suitable for dogs the answer would be both yes and no. The answer would depend on the right type of NSAID, its dosage and the dog’s overall health status.
If the question is whether Aleve is suitable for dogs the answer would be definitely no. To be more accurate, Aleve is not only non-suitable for dogs, but it is extremely toxic. Even a small dose of Aleve can be fatal for dogs. Aleve is considered non-suitable for dogs because it causes a plethora of side-effects affecting primarily the stomach and the kidneys.
Technically speaking, an extremely low dose of Aleve is not likely to cause any side-effects. However, the difference between the safe dose of Aleve for dogs and an overdose is extremely small.
To be more accurate, each Aleve tablet contains around 220 milligrams of naproxen which is enough to cause issues in both small and large dogs. Plus, the Aleve is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly – usually within 30 minutes. In rare occasions, its absorption can be delayed for up to 3 hours, which once again, is considered fast.
Usually, side-effects can be seen if a dog ingests around 2 milligrams of naproxen per lb of body weight. Doses higher than 2mg/lb are likely to cause rapid kidney failure. Based on how much Aleve was ingested and the dog’ exact body weight, the side-effects are expected to manifest within 2 to 24 hours.
The most commonly observed side-effects include:
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Stomach ulcers
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Intestinal perforations
- Low red blood cells count
- Neurological issues.
It should be well-noted that the risk of developing side-effects is much higher in older dogs, particularly dogs with pre-existing kidney issues.
Help, My Dog Ingested Aleve!
A dog that has consumed Aleve is likely to show the following signs and symptoms:
- General weakness
- Altered water consumption
- Altered urination frequency
- Appetite loss
It is advisable not to wait for the clinical manifestation. Instead, call an emergency vet as soon as possible. If the ingestion has occurred in the last few minutes, the vet will instruct you to induce vomiting usually with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Then the vet will suggest administration of activated charcoal – to absorb the remaining drug and prevent further intoxication. Then, after first aid is given, the vet will advise you to take your dog to the clinic for a full examination.
Preventing Aleve Toxicity in Dogs
To prevent accidental overdoses with Aleve, it is advisable to keep your drugs out of your dog’s reach. Another useful advice is to avoid using human drugs for dogs unless instructed to do so by a veterinary professional.
Luckily, modern pharmaceutical companies offer a plethora of safer choices when it comes to dog-specific anti-pain medication. If your dog needs a painkiller, your vet is likely to prescribe Metacam, Previcox or Deramaxx. These are all powerful and dog-specific painkillers. Therefore, there is no objective and scientifically backed-up reason to use Aleve for dogs.
It is true that sometimes veterinarians recommend using certain human painkillers for dogs. For example, veterinarians often recommend using aspirin for dogs. However, their recommendation comes with a specifically instructed dosage. If used at the wrong dose, even something as benign as a simple aspirin can have unwanted and severe side-effects.
It goes without saying that not all drugs used for humans are also suitable for dogs. Some drugs developed for humans may not be licensed for veterinary use, but have proved to be of value. On the other hand, there are human drugs that are forbidden for dogs. The drug Aleve is an example for such drug. Although Aleve is among the most commonly used painkillers in the world, when it comes to dogs, its side-effects can be fatal.
All in all, if you are not sure whether certain drug can be safely used in your canine baby do not experiment. Instead, call your vet and ask for advice.
About the Author
Dr. Ivana Crnec is a graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia.
She currently practices as a veterinarian in Bitola and is completing her postgraduate studies in the Pathology of Domestic Carnivores at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb, Croatia.