Rimadyl Side Effects in Dog Arthritis

Updated on October 23, 2016
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Rimadyl is sometimes prescribed for dogs in pain.
Rimadyl is sometimes prescribed for dogs in pain. | Source
Many large dogs develop arthritis.
Many large dogs develop arthritis. | Source

The drug Rimadyl (carprofen) was introduced by Pfizer in 1997. The drug was not a success when sold for people so it was tested on a small number of dogs and then marketed as a new and effective treatment for canine joint pain and arthritis. It does work for some dogs. Thousands of dogs have been euthanized or died as a direct result of this drug, though, and many more thousands have had severe reactions. The drug company said the reactions occur in less than 1% of the dogs that take the drug.

That doesn´t help much if your dog is one of the “less than 1%”, does it?

What are the side effects?

1. Your dog may stop eating.

2. He may act very tired or weak, stumble around when he does get up, or even be partially paralyzed.

3. Your dog may start vomiting or have diarrhea. The vomit may have flecks of blood in it and the diarrhea might be black (a sign of blood loss).

4. He might have behavioral changes (like aggression) and might even have seizures.

5. Some dogs also develop itchy skin, with scabs.

6. If you miss some of the other symptoms you may notice your dog´s gums becoming yellow (jaundice).

When are side effects more common?

1. When the drug is used on older dogs: Since this is what the medication was marketed for, this is not a lot of help.

2. When used for a long time: The side effects are usually seen early in treatment, but dogs who have been on this therapy for a long time have increased chances of problems

3. When the drug is mixed with other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like aspirin: If you dog is given this drug, do not give him something else at home to ease his pain, even if he is normally able to handle it.

4. When the drug is given at a high dose: According to the manufacturer of another pain medication, 59% of adverse reactions happened in dogs that were given a dose higher than recommended.

Is there a way to avoid the side effects if my vet wants to put my dog on Rimadyl?

1. No, but you can reduce his risks by making sure he is not on any other drugs. Steroids and other NSAIDs should be avoided at all costs.

2. You can also agree to have your dog´s blood liver and kidney levels checked before Rimadyl therapy begins. If there are any symptoms you can have the blood checked again immediately.

3. If your dog has Von Willebrands disease (a type of hemophilia), or is pregnant or nursing puppies, you must decline this treatment and find an alternative for your dog´s arthritis.

What should I do if my dog has any symptoms of Rimadyl poisoning?

1. Stop giving your dog his drug immediately.

2. Take your dog to your veterinarian immediately so that he may have his blood checked and can start on conventional or alternative therapy for liver failure.

Swimming and weight control help, but they do not cure arthritis.
Swimming and weight control help, but they do not cure arthritis. | Source

Would you put your dog on Rimadyl for arthritis?

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There are many alternative therapies available for dogs with arthritis and chronic pain. Some of them are simple, like providing a good bed. Some of them are more difficult, like finding a veterinary acupuncturist. If you are worried about the potential adverse effects of putting your dog on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, I would recommend that you investigate an alternative therapy.

You need to believe and do what is best for your dog.

Acupuncture may help dogs with arthritis and back pain.
Acupuncture may help dogs with arthritis and back pain. | Source


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    • NurseKathy profile image

      NurseKathy 12 months ago

      I just tried Rimadyl on my older dog for the third time. He can take it for a week and it helps his arthritis a lot, but after a length of time, (this time 2 months) he starts acting goofy. He pants a lot. Stumbles and falls at times. Becomes very needy. And in the evening he seems to have what we nurses call "Sundowner Syndrome". He becomes confused, scratches at the carpeting, walks around and around the house, etc. I stopped it 4 days ago and he's back to being a normal Border Collie. I'm going to try glucosamine chondroitin with MSM and if that doesn't work it's back to the Vet. The Vet acted like I was nuts when I told him the Rimadyl caused him to behave really odd.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I cannot give you an exact answer on that, hbrat3213748, since the duration of side effects really depends on how long your Boston was on the drug in the first place. If it was a longer time, the side effects can last longer.

      You said that the vet says he doubts that it is related to rimadyl. Have you done blood work? What organs are being affected? Unfortunately, unless blood work was done before the drug was started, it is hard to say what changes have happened. Anorexia can have a lot of causes, so your vet needs to investigate all of the possibilities and keep your dog going while looking into this.

      Good luck with your little girl.

    • profile image

      hbrat3213748 3 years ago

      I took our 12 year old boston terrier off rimadyl about three weeks ago - she is still very letharic and doesn't want to eat. the vet says he doubts that it is related to rimadyl. How long can the effects last?

    • profile image

      jodilcox 3 years ago

      Rimadyl Side Effects...

      Do NOT use this I beg of you! My dog has been in agony since my Vet put him on it, he CLAIMED that he had arthritis just by looking at him.

      Swollen legs


      skin infection


      throwing up


      right leg weakness

      He just one day sat down and could not get up, rushed him to the ER and they took x-ray's, nothing showed, no arthritis, nothing.

      Went to a Neurologist and had a DM test, 6 weeks later it came back negative, they said it could be something neurological.

      I just took him off of it 1 day ago and his feet and ankles are no longer twice the size, his infection on his legs, inner thighs and stomach are healing on their own with NO medication that I was prescribed.

      He is still wobbly but not near what he was. I pray for the best and ENCOURAGE AND PLEAD with anyone to NOT give this to our dog!

      Pfizer the company and the Vet's that prescribe this are greedy and only care about the money the prescriptions they hand out are bringing them in.

      I a disgusted!

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Yes, it usually works just fine. Even a small dose is not going to make a difference if your dog is sensitive to the drug, though. There are a lot of innocuous alternatives, but people need to be willing to try them.

      Thanks for your visit!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      This is great if your dog has a joint injury which leads to arthritis. As with all medication, we've to be careful about administering.. do it in little doses. Thanks for the tips!

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