Rimadyl Side Effects in Dog Arthritis
The drug Rimadyl (a brand name for the medication carprofen) was introduced by Pfizer in 1997. The drug was not a commercial 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?
- Your dog may stop eating. Since the drug is often presribed for seniors, and there are many other causes of a loss of appetite, this symptom is often missed.
- Your dog may act very tired or weak and stumble around. When he does get up, he may even be partially paralyzed.
- 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).
- He might have behavioral changes (like aggression) and might even have seizures.
- Some dogs also develop itchy skin, with scabs.
- If you miss some of the other symptoms you may notice your dog´s gums becoming yellow (jaundice).
When is it More Common to See Side Effects?
- Side effects are most commonly seen when the dog is a senior. Since the drug is most commonly prescribed for older dogs, this is not a lot of help.
- 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. Since this drug is recommended for dogs with arthritis, a chronic condition, this is a common reason for side effects.
- 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.
- 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.
How Can I Avoid the Side Effects?
- Do not put your dog on this drug. There are alternative therapies and alternative drugs.
- If you and your vet have decided that your dog must take this drug, you can reduce the risk by making sure he is not on any other drugs. Steroids and other NSAIDs should be avoided at all costs.
- 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.
- 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.
Would you put your dog on Rimadyl for arthritis?
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.
Does a New Name Change Anything?
Some companies have now started selling the drug carprofen under a new name. Nothing else has changed. It is still Rimadyl, and still will produce the same side effects that I have detailed in this article.
If your vet has presribed an anti-inflammatory for your dog, read the label. If it is Canidryl, Dolox, Vetprofen, or any other name that you are not familiar with it may be Rimadyl. Take a minute to find out.
What Should I Do if My Dog Has Symptoms of Rimadyl Poisoning?
- Stop giving your dog his drug immediately.
- 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.
- Do not give any other drugs until your dog has been seen by a veterinarian.