Naproxen Poisoning in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

Naproxen, a common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), is widely used to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation in humans. However, what many pet owners may not realize is that naproxen can be extremely toxic to dogs.

Accidental ingestion of this medication can lead to severe health complications and even be fatal for our furry companions. In this blog article, we will delve into the topic of “Naproxen Poisoning in Dogs” to raise awareness about the dangers, symptoms, treatment options, and preventive measures associated with this type of poisoning.

By understanding the risks and taking appropriate precautions, we can protect our beloved pets and ensure their well-being. So, let’s explore the world of naproxen toxicity in dogs and learn how to keep our four-legged friends safe.

Naproxen: A Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID)

Naproxen works by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), which is responsible for producing prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemical messengers that regulate various processes in the body, such as inflammation, pain, fever, blood clotting, and stomach protection. By inhibiting COX, naproxen reduces the amount of prostaglandins and thus relieves the symptoms of inflammation and pain.

Naproxen is available in different forms and dosages for human use. It can be bought over-the-counter as naproxen sodium (220 mg tablets) or by prescription as naproxen (250 mg, 375 mg, 500 mg tablets) or naproxen extended-release (750 mg tablets). Naproxen can also be found in combination products with other drugs, such as pseudoephedrine, sumatriptan, or esomeprazole.

Naproxen can also be prescribed by veterinarians for dogs to treat certain conditions, such as osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal injuries, or cancer. However, the dosage and frequency of naproxen for dogs are much lower than for humans. 

The recommended dosage of naproxen for dogs is 2 mg per kg of body weight every other day. This means that a 10 kg dog would receive 20 mg of naproxen every 48 hours. Even at this low dose, naproxen can cause side effects in some dogs, such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or stomach ulcers. Therefore, naproxen should only be used in dogs under the supervision of a veterinarian and only when other NSAIDs are ineffective.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Naproxen Poisoning in Dogs?

Naproxen poisoning in dogs can occur when a dog ingests too much naproxen, either accidentally or intentionally. The most common cause of naproxen poisoning in dogs is a well-meaning owner who tries to relieve their dog’s pain by giving them human medication without knowing the toxic dose. Another possible cause is a dog getting into a bottle of naproxen and eating the pills.

The initial toxic effect of naproxen in dogs is bleeding stomach ulcers. This is because naproxen inhibits the production of prostaglandins that protect the lining of the stomach from acid erosion. The ulcers can cause vomiting (with or without blood), abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and blood in the stool (which may be red or black).

In addition to ulcers, increasing doses of naproxen can lead to kidney failure in dogs. This is because naproxen also reduces the blood flow and filtration in the kidneys by blocking the vasodilating prostaglandins. This can result in dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, increased blood nitrogen levels, and damage to the kidney tissues.

Other possible signs and symptoms of naproxen poisoning in dogs include gum ulcers, pale mucous membranes, weakness, stumbling, seizures, coma, and death.

The severity and onset of symptoms depend on several factors, such as the amount and type of naproxen ingested, the size and age of the dog, the presence of other medications or diseases, and the time elapsed since ingestion. Generally, gastrointestinal symptoms appear within 2 to 24 hours after ingestion, while kidney symptoms develop within 24 to 48 hours.

Naproxen Poisoning: Treatment, Recovery, and Management

The treatment of naproxen poisoning in dogs depends on the severity of the condition and the time elapsed since ingestion. The main goals of treatment are to prevent further absorption of naproxen, to protect the stomach and kidneys from damage, and to support the vital functions of the dog.

Some of the treatment options for naproxen poisoning in dogs are:

  • Inducing vomiting or performing gastric lavage to remove the remaining naproxen from the stomach. This is only done if the ingestion occurred within 2 hours and the dog is stable and conscious.
  • Administering activated charcoal to bind the naproxen and prevent its absorption into the bloodstream. This is usually done within 4 hours after ingestion and may be repeated every 8 hours for up to 3 days.
  • Giving intravenous fluids to maintain hydration, blood pressure, and kidney function. This is especially important for dogs with signs of kidney failure or dehydration.
  • Giving medications to reduce stomach acid production, such as famotidine or omeprazole, to prevent or heal ulcers.
  • Giving medications to protect the stomach lining, such as sucralfate or misoprostol, to prevent or heal ulcers.
  • Giving medications to stop bleeding, such as vitamin K or plasma transfusions, to correct clotting disorders.
  • Giving medications to reduce inflammation and pain, such as opioids or tramadol, to provide comfort and relief. However, NSAIDs should be avoided as they can worsen the condition.
  • Monitoring the dog’s vital signs, blood tests, urine tests, and abdominal imaging regularly to assess the response to treatment and the recovery progress.

The recovery and prognosis of naproxen poisoning in dogs depend on several factors, such as the amount of naproxen ingested, the time elapsed since ingestion, the severity of symptoms, and the response to treatment. Most dogs with mild to moderate naproxen poisoning can recover fully with prompt and appropriate treatment. 

However, some dogs with severe naproxen poisoning may suffer from permanent kidney damage or fatal bleeding complications. Therefore, it is essential to prevent naproxen poisoning in dogs by following these tips:

  • Never give naproxen or any other human medication to your dog without consulting your veterinarian first
  • Keep naproxen and other drugs out of your dog’s reach and dispose of them properly
  • Read the labels of human food and products carefully and avoid giving them to your dog if they contain naproxen or other NSAIDs
  • Follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully when giving naproxen or any other medication to your dog
  • Monitor your dog for any signs of adverse effects or toxicity when giving naproxen or any other medication to your dog
  • Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any symptoms of naproxen poisoning in your dog


Can naproxen poisoning in dogs be fatal?

Yes, naproxen poisoning in dogs can be fatal, especially if not addressed promptly. The toxicity of naproxen can cause severe damage to vital organs, such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and liver. Immediate veterinary care is essential to increase the chances of survival.

Are all NSAIDs toxic to dogs, or is naproxen particularly dangerous?

While many NSAIDs can be toxic to dogs, naproxen is considered particularly dangerous due to its potency. Dogs are more susceptible to naproxen toxicity compared to other NSAIDs. It is important to never give your dog any medication intended for human use without veterinary approval.

Can small amounts of naproxen be harmful to dogs?

Yes, even small amounts of naproxen can be harmful to dogs. The toxicity of naproxen is dose-dependent, meaning even a small ingestion can lead to significant health issues. It is crucial to keep all medications, including naproxen, securely stored and away from your dog’s reach.

Can dogs develop a tolerance to naproxen over time?

No, dogs do not develop a tolerance to naproxen or other NSAIDs over time. In fact, repeated or prolonged use of these medications can lead to cumulative toxicity and increase the risk of adverse effects. It is essential to use medications for dogs strictly as directed by a veterinarian and avoid long-term or off-label use.

Well, That’s a Wrap

Naproxen poisoning in dogs is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that pet owners need to be aware of. The ingestion of naproxen, even in small amounts, can lead to severe toxicity and harm vital organs such as the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. Recognizing the signs of naproxen poisoning and seeking immediate veterinary care is crucial for the well-being and survival of our furry friends.

Prevention is key when it comes to naproxen poisoning in dogs. Safely storing all medications out of reach, being cautious about pill disposal, and never administering human medications without veterinary guidance are essential steps to protect our pets. Educating ourselves about safe pain relief alternatives specifically designed for dogs is equally important.

If you suspect naproxen poisoning in your dog, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency clinic. Time is of the essence, and prompt medical intervention can make a significant difference in the outcome. Remember, early detection and treatment can prevent long-term damage and potentially save your dog’s life.

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