Dogs need pain medication for many of the same reasons humans do: post-surgical pain relief, soft tissue and bone injuries, and joint disorders like arthritis. While you can pop down to the corner drugstore for some Tylenol or Motrin, you don’t have the same convenience when your dog is in need of pain relief. Human pain medications are never safe for your dog, so you’ll have to visit your veterinarian to get safe and effective drugs for dogs.
Novox (Carprofen) for Dogs
Consider carprofen the Tylenol of the canine world. This highly effective NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) reduces inflammation and relieves pain caused by a variety of disorders. It’s very commonly prescribed to dogs with osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia to manage their chronic pain and inflammation. Novox is also sent home with dogs for postoperative pain management after major and minor surgeries.
Novox, like most NSAIDs, is metabolized by the liver and kidneys. These organs break the medicine down and disperse it throughout the body before sending the excess out to be excreted. Older dogs being prescribed Novox are required to have a complete blood panel run initially to ensure their liver and kidneys are functioning properly. If it’s going to be a long-term regimen for arthritis or hip dysplasia, you’ll have to bring your dog in regularly for bloodwork to monitor their renal and hepatic functions. If there’s evidence of negative effects on the organs, your vet will probably discontinue Novox and explore other options.
NSAIDs can be hard on the stomach and intestines, too. Dogs with a history of stomach ulcers shouldn’t be prescribed carprofen because the medication reduces the protective mucosal lining of the stomach, leading to the development of ulcers or irritating existing ones.
Novox should never be given to dogs with blood disorders, especially Von Willebrand’s disease.
Side Effects of Novox in Dogs
Novox has a high margin of safety, meaning most dogs are able to take the medication with no side effects. The most common side effect of Novox (and all NSAIDs) is stomach upset. This presents as loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Contact your vet if you notice any of these symptoms. Sometimes stomach upset can be reduced with a smaller dosage or administering the medication with a full meal.
Diarrhea and vomiting become more concerning if the stools turn dark, tarry, and/or bloody, or if their vomit looks like coffee grounds. Blood in the stool or vomit indicates bleeding in the stomach or intestines, and if the dog is on an NSAID with these symptoms, it usually means there’s an ulcer somewhere. If you notice blood in any of their excrement or pale gums, immediately stop giving the Novox and contact your vet right away.
When Novox begins to negatively impact the kidneys, the first signs are increased thirst and urination. Your dog will go from drinking normal amounts of water to having an insatiable thirst. This leads to increased urination. When the kidneys are functioning normally, urine will become diluted when a lot of water is being consumed. When they aren’t working normally, the urine will still be very dark and pungent, indicating the kidneys aren’t filtering properly.
The most common liver-related side effect is jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes, skin, or gums. This is a very alarming side effect; don’t waste any time in getting your dog into the vet immediately. Other signs include lethargy, incoordination, seizures, pale gums, and excessive shedding. These symptoms are just as alarming as jaundice, so stop giving Novox and seek veterinary care right away.
Novox Dosage for Dogs
The right amount depends on a variety of factors. Weight is used to prescribe a maximum dose, but some dogs have effective pain control on a lower dose. Your vet will decide the dose based on your dog’s size, age, and the length of treatment.
For pain and inflammation, the max dose is 4.4 mg per kg every 24 hours, or 2.2 mg per kg every 12 hours. Postoperative dogs can have an oral dose of 2.2 to 4.4 mg per kg every 12 to 24 hours and a dose two hours prior to the procedure.
Novox comes only in capsule form, but there are injectable forms of carprofen that your vet might use prior to a surgical procedure.
Alternatives to Novox for Dogs
Whether there is a “better” alternative for your dog depends on what condition is being treated and their overall health. There are certainly other NSAID alternatives out there like Previcox, Metacam, and Deramaxx, but this decision is one that should be made with your veterinarian.
Novox is probably one of the most commonly prescribed pain medications for dogs because it’s incredibly safe, effective, and affordable long-term. Despite the potential side effects and necessary precautions, the majority of dogs can take Novox with absolutely no side effects.