Since all over the counter human pain medications are toxic to your dog, you might wonder if there’s anything you can give your dog for pain.
While there isn’t anything you can pick up in the drugstore, your veterinarian has plenty of options available for you. Whether your dog is getting creaky in the joints or they’ve just been neutered, the most popular option is Rimadyl.
Can I Give My Dog Rimadyl?
Rimadyl (carprofen) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that was formulated specially for canines, making it one of the safest and most commonly prescribed canine pain medications on the market. It’s especially good for dogs suffering from arthritis.
Is Rimadyl Safe for My Dog?
Yes, Rimadyl is incredibly safe with minimal side effects. Like most NSAIDs, the most common side effect is stomach upset. If your dog is older or going to be on the drug long-term, expect your vet to want to run some blood tests to ensure the liver and kidneys are functioning properly.
Rimadyl blocks the prostaglandins that create inflammation in the joints, but prostaglandins are necessary for everyday body functions. When the production is halted, normal body functions in the digestive tract, the liver, and the kidneys are disrupted.
Some dogs experience bleeding in the GI tract because the stomach lining becomes ulcerated. Blood flow to the liver decreases, creating a build-up of toxins throughout the body. Both stomach ulcers and decreased liver function can be deadly if they aren’t treated.
Many people think once the drug is discontinued that these side effects stop. While nausea and diarrhea may stop once the drug is discontinued, effects like stomach ulcers and liver damage are not reversible.
Your vet will be very strict on how often they require blood tests on dogs taking Rimadyl long-term. Some vets want them performed every six months, while others want them done every year.
Regardless of the timing between tests, most vets will not refill the prescription without up-to-date bloodwork. This may seem like a hassle, but these blood tests can save your dog’s life.
How Much Rimadyl Can I Give My Dog?
The maker of Rimadyl, Pfizer, recommends that dogs get 1 mg of Rimadyl per pound of body weight every 12 hours. Some dogs get effective pain relief from a lower dose, so many vets will start them off at lower doses to see if it makes any difference in their pain.
The lower the dose, the less likely it is they will experience side effects. Some dogs can also get pain relief from intermittent administration.
Overdose symptoms include excessive vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, increased or decreased urination, and jaundice. If you ever notice anything out of the ordinary, take your dog to the vet immediately.
A Word of Warning Regarding Chewable Rimadyl
Rimadyl comes in two forms: a tablet and a chewable tablet. The chewable tablet is beef flavored and smells like a tasty dog treat, making it easy to medicate dogs who are difficult to medicate. There is a huge problem with this form, though: it tastes too good. There have been many instances of dogs getting into their pill bottle and eating their entire month’s supply in one sitting because they taste so good.
Even though Rimadyl is safe for dogs, an overdose can kill your dog and requires immediate vet treatment. Your vet will treat a Rimadyl overdose like they’ve eaten human pain medication. They’ll induce vomiting, line the stomach with activated charcoal to absorb any medication remnants, and hospitalize them to administer IV fluids and perform frequent blood work.
If you have the chewable Rimadyl, always put the bottle where it’s impossible for your dog to get them. The counter is not a safe spot, especially with determined Labradors. Put them high in a cabinet where your dog will not be able to reach them.
What about Arthritis?
When Rimadyl isn’t a good match for your dog, there are other options to help with arthritis pain. Deramaxx (deracoxib) is a good alternative and is also an NSAID. Metacam (meloxicam) is a liquid NSAID that’s good for older dogs, small dogs, or dogs who are hard to give medicine to. Most NSAIDs are safe for long-term use, so discuss your choices with your veterinarian.
Joint health is very important for maintaining arthritis pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin are helpful in relieving arthritis symptoms because they lube the joints. Some research has shown fatty acids are also beneficial, so you can discuss fish oil or other fatty oils with your vet.
Rimadyl is an excellent choice for most dogs. Whether your dog just had surgery or their joints are starting to age, Rimadyl can make them comfortable and virtually pain free with just one or two doses a day. If you’re concerned with their comfort, make an appointment to get them treated as quickly as possible.