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Carprofen in Dogs

| Updated September 26, 2017

If you suffer some arthritic pain, your doctor might recommend that you take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen to ease your symptoms. Your vet might prescribe a special NSAID for Fido. Generally, NSAIDs designed for people should never be given to dogs, but carprofen -- marketed generically and under the brand names Rimadyl, Novex and Vetprofen -- was developed for canine use and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for that purpose.

Carprofen Primary Uses

While carprofen is often prescribed for dogs exhibiting pain from osteoarthritis, that's not its sole use. If your pet undergoes surgery, especially an orthopedic or soft tissue operation, the vet might prescribe carprofen to ease postoperative discomfort and pain. While arthritic dogs might receive carprofen on a long-term basis, dogs recuperating from surgery will receive the drug only for a short while as they heal. If your dog is prescribed carprofen for the long-term, you'll have to bring him to the vet at least semiannually for regular blood testing to monitor his liver and kidney function.

How It Works

Carprofen is a COX-2 inhibitor, meaning it selectively inhibits cyclo-oxygenase 2 in the body. This enzyme creates the biochemical prostaglandins generating inflammation. It does so without interfering with COX-1, or cyclo-oxygenase 1, which creates prostaglandins that help maintain normal bodily functions. Your vet will prescribe the dosage based on your dog's weight, and recommend either daily or twice-daily administration of the drug.

Carprofen and Other Medications

Tell your vet about any other medications your dog takes, including over-the-counter supplements. While it's important not to give carprofen to a dog taking any other type of NSAID, the drug should also never be given to a dog undergoing corticosteroid therapy. Common corticosteroids prescribed for dogs include dexamethasone, prednisone and cortisone. If your dog receives medication for high blood pressure, such as an ACE inhibitor, carprofen can interfere with its efficacy.

Side Effects and Contraindications

Side effects of carprofen use may include vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, lethargy and jaundice -- yellowing of the skin, whites of the eye and mucous membranes. Feces might appear dark and tarry. Gastrointestinal side effects can result from stomach ulceration or bleeding. Carprofen can cause increased thirst and urination in some canines. Behavioral changes can occur, and, in rare cases, a dog might experience seizures or other neurological problems. While dogs of various breeds developed liver disease after receiving carprofen, Laborador retrievers appear predisposed to this side effect. Dogs with kidney or liver disease should not receive carprofen. Puppies under the age of 6 weeks should not receive carprofen, nor should pregnant or lactating dogs. If your dog experiences any side effects, contact your vet immediately.