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Difference Between Rimadyl and Metacam

| Updated September 26, 2017

Same Class, Different Drugs

Rimadyl and Metacam both belong to the class of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are prescribed for pain relief. Human variations of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, Advil, Aleve, Celebrex and Vioxx, most of which pose adverse side effects when administered to dogs. Rimadyl and Metacam are available as veterinary preparations to provide relief for pets with fewer risks. The two medications are prescribed for these conditions:

  • Pain control during recovery periods following such operations as ovariohysterectomies and orthopedic surgical procedures.
  • Pain relief during recovery from such injuries as sprains and strains.
  • Chronic pain management for degenerative joint disease.

Rimadyl is the brand name for the drug carprofen. Rimadyl was first introduced to the veterinary market in 1997. Carprofen provides pain relief by inhibiting the body's production of cyclo-oxygenase 2 enzymes, which are the enzymes responsible for causing pain and inflammation, without disturbing the production of cyclo-oxygenase 1 enzymes, which help to maintain normal body function and optimal health. Carprofen is the first nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that was able to differentiate the two different enzymes in the body.

Metacam is the brand name for the drug meloxicam. Inhibiting the cyclo-oxygenase 2 enzyme production without disturbing cyclo-oxygenate 1 enzyme production, Metacam works in the same manner as Rimadyl. The two primary differences are that Metacam, unlike Rimadyl, is available as an oral suspension, and it was the first nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in cats.

Administration, Strengths and Preparations

Rimadyl may be administered once or twice daily in accordance with veterinary prescription instructions. It is available in these strengths and preparations:

  • 25 mg caplets and chewable tablets
  • 75 mg caplets and chewable tablets
  • 100 mg caplets and chewable tablets
  • 50 mg/ml injectable solution for administration by a veterinarian

Metacam is administered once daily. Oral suspensions do not need to be refrigerated, but they must be shaken well before each use. It is available in the following strengths and preparations:

  • 0.5 mg/ml oral suspension
  • 1.5 mg/ml oral suspension
  • 5 mg/ml injectable solution for intravenous or subcutaneous administration by a veterinarian

Side Effects and Contraindications

All nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs pose the risks for developing gastrointestinal ulceration, bleeding, kidney disease and liver disease. Rimadyl and Metacam should not be used in patients who have a history of gastrointestinal ulceration, kidney disease or liver disease. These drugs should not be used in patients who are dehydrated, pregnant or nursing. Some side effects that may occur with use of either drug include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite loss

Be sure to report these side effects to your veterinarian at once if they occur while your dog is taking Rimadyl or Metacam. These may be minor effects that resolve with symptomatic treatment, but they can also be signs of liver or kidney disease. Your veterinarian will perform blood chemistry profile panels to evaluate your dog's kidney and liver function. Dogs who are on a long-term regimen of Rimadyl or Metacam, such as for the treatment of degenerative joint disease, will require these blood panels performed every six months to monitor kidney and liver health.

Drug Interaction

Rimadyl and Metacam should not be used together, and they should not be combined with any other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Doing so will increase the risk for developing kidney or liver disease. Additional drugs that should not be used concurrently with Rimadyl or Metacam include:

  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • ACE inhibitors, such as enalapril or benazapril
  • Phenobarbital

If your dog is experiencing pain from an injury, surgical recovery or degenerative joint disease, your veterinarian will review your dog's medical history and decide if Rimadyl or Metacam will offer the most effective relief for your furry companion.