The use of NSAIDs for dogs has always been mired in controversy. On one side, there are stories that sound like ‘miracles’ where dogs that were crippled due to osteoarthritis got a second lease of life when treated with Rimadyl.
On the other hand, there have been innumerable complaints and even lawsuits on Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Rimadyl for dogs.
One of the gruesome stories that eventually culminated in a lawsuit speaks about how a seven year old dog George hemorrhaged to death and Rimadyl was named as one of the main contributing factors that led to the death.
With incidents like this doing the rounds and getting more than their fair share of eyeballs on social media, it is no wonder that pet parents are worried about using Rimadyl for dogs. In fact, Rimadyl happens to be one of the commonest queries that we receive here on the website.
We figured that this was a good time to shed some light on this incredibly popular painkiller medication. Here’s a complete guide on Rimadyl including some of the Rimadyl for dogs side effects and dosage instructions.
Rimadyl is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, commonly known as an NSAID that is prescribed for helping relieve pain and inflammation. The generic name of the drug is Caprofen. It helps to alleviate the swelling, discomfort and warmth that is commonly caused due to conditions like arthritis, injury or orthopedic surgery.
Rimadyl works by blocking the release of certain chemicals called Prostaglandins in the body which helps to reduce inflammation. Ever since the drug was first introduced by Pfizer in 1997, an estimated 24 million dogs have been given the drug to help curb pain.
It is available in three different strengths. The lowest strength is 25 mg and the highest one is 100 mg. The veterinarian prescribes the appropriate one depending on the severity of the medical condition, the age and the body weight of the dog.
Rimadyl starts to take effect in as less as 3 hours and that remains one of the main draws of the drug for aging dogs. And that’s where some of the controversy surrounding the drug arises from.
As we mentioned earlier, Rimadyl works by blocking the release of prostaglandins which trigger inflammation in the body. While this helps to curb pain, these same chemicals are vital for a variety of other bodily functions in the dog. These include regulating the digestive system and helping the dog’s kidneys function normally. NSAIDs are also said to be toxic to the liver when taken long term.
It is estimated that almost 20000 dogs have suffered an adverse reaction to the drug since its inception. A whopping 3000 dogs have died from complications related to NSAID use that involved Rimadyl.
While its not right to speculate, it would be fair to say that some of these cases could possibly have been avoided if the symptoms of the side effects were diagnosed in time. The first and commonest side effect is lethargy.
If you have given your dog Rimadyl or any other NSAID drug and you notice that the dog is lethargic, then stop using the drug immediately and contact your vet. The other most commonly noted side effect is diarrhea, loss of appetite and vomiting.
In extreme cases, the dog may suffer seizures. Rimadyl and other NSAIDs can also weaken the mucous membrane lining in the dog’s stomach which can cause peptic ulcers. One of the signs of a peptic ulcer is clay colored stools or blood in the stools.
Tiny flecks of blood may also be seen in the dog’s vomit. If you notice pale gums, then the situation may be life threatening for your dog. Consider it a medical emergency and rush your dog to the vet’s clinic immediately.
No. Rimadyl is usually very well tolerated by most dogs. Side effects if any, are usually mild.
However, adverse reactions and more serious side effects have mostly been noted in older dogs. Labrador retrievers in particular are considered to be a high-risk dog breed if they have used Rimadyl for more than three weeks on the trot. Ironically, Labradors are also the most appropriate candidates for using NSAIDs because they are more likely to develop joint problems in the later stages of their lives.
For this reason, most vets will schedule a bloodwork and run some other tests to gauge the functioning of the dog’s kidney and liver before giving them Rimadyl.
Some of the other NSAID medications that are normally prescribed for dogs are Deramaxx and Etodolac. However, irrespective of what brand name of NSAID you choose, they pose the same potential for side effects as Rimadyl.
Natural supplements can be used as an alternative to painkillers. But they are tediously slow in their effect and it would take weeks if not months before there is any noticeable difference in the quality of life.
Also, if your pet is recuperating from a surgery, then you have no other option than NSAID medications.
Rimadyl dosage for dogs depends on a lot of factors. It is available in both chewable tablets as well as injectable form. The usual recommended dosage for conditions like osteoarthritis is 2.0 mg of the drug per pound of body weight.
So, if you have a small dog that weighs 5-10 lbs, then you can split the 25 mg tablet into two and give them their daily dose.
Dogs weighing 21-30 pounds can be given up to 50 mg a day. So, you can give the dog two 25 mg tablets or one 100 mg tablet split into half.
A detailed dosing chart and patient booklet is included in every pack of Rimadyl. If this is the first time that you are administering the drug to your pet, take time to read it in detail. If you have any further doubts or need clarifications, speak to your vet.
When administered correctly, Rimadyl can help your dog improve the quality of their life considerably.