Carprofen for dogs is used to treat canine osteoarthritis and other types of inflammation. This drug is a form of pain relief for dogs rather than a cure. It works by treating the inflammation caused by these conditions, but it doesn’t take away the condition itself. It is a temporary pain relief for dogs. If your veterinarian has prescribed Carprofen, we can help to put your mind at rest. Letting you know what this arthritis medicine for dogs does, why it is used, how it is given, and what the potential side effects are.
What is Carprofen for Dogs?
Carprofen goes by a number of different names depending on where you live, such as Carporal, Carprofenum, and Rimifin. But, no matter what the name, each brand is the same thing and treats the same issues. Carprofen is an anti-inflammatory for dogs. More specifically, it is a steroid-free narcotic. It works by preventing the chemical which causes inflammation from working properly, thus reducing inflammation. Specifically, carprofen may inhibit a specific enzyme involved in inflammation, called COX2.
Every country may have its own name for this drug, and some might even have multiple names. But in reality, each brand contains the same active ingredient. Carprofen for dogs is licensed by the FDA in the USA, as well as in the UK and the EU. But, it is only available by prescription.
Uses of Carprofen for Dogs
The most common disease treated with carprofen is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes painful joint inflammation. Carprofen reduces this inflammation. It can also reduce associated pain, and may improve joint function and movement. But, this drug can help with a number of different disorders, diseases, and situations too. For instance, carprofen is common before and after surgery to combat pain and swelling.
Carprofen Side Effects in Dogs
Like all pain medication for dogs, there are some potential side effects. Most side effects are not serious, but it is important not to ignore them. Side effects that appear minor can have major effects on the long-term health of your dog if left uncorrected.
Carprofen side effects in dogs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Fatigue and/or lethargy
- Loss of coordination
- A weakening of the legs/paralysis
- Skin Changes
- Changes in behavior
Side effects are generally rare. This is mainly because most vets are very conservative with their dosing. In other words, most vets start dogs on low doses and slowly increase the dose once they are sure the dog has reacted well to the medication.
How is Carprofen Given
Carprofen for dogs is not something you can order online or decide to give to your pet by yourself, since it is only available in prescription form. Only a veterinarian can legally prescribe this drug for your pup. Pain meds for dogs come in solid chewable tablets that are quite palatable and usually willingly consumed by most dogs. Vets will usually prescribe different sized tablets based on the size and weight of your dog.
Alongside this, it also comes in a liquid form to be injected. A carprofen injection is usually only administered after surgery. Injecting carprofen decreases the amount of time it takes for the medicine to enter your dog’s system. Sometimes, it may be given before your pup wakes up from the general anesthetic. The injection is often followed by tablets, to be taken afterward.
Carprofen Dosage for Dogs
The specific carprofen dosage for your dog will depend on your dog’s weight, among other factors. Most brands offer tablets in a variety of dosages. Such as 100mg, 75mg and 20mg doses for dogs. The usual dosage is around 2 to 4 mg per kg of body weight per day. Of course, your dog’s vet will specify the right dosage.
How Much Carprofen Can I Give My Dog?
Most veterinarians will recommend giving a single carprofen dosage for dogs, or two doses throughout the day. But, it is also not uncommon for vets to decrease the dosage over time. This is because, after a time, the drug becomes established within your pet’s body. So, your pet needs lower regular doses to maintain the same amount in their bloodstream. And, while there is no evidence that carprofen is toxic, it is important to stick to the dosages prescribed by your veterinarian.
If you miss a dose, speak to your vet, don’t just double up on your dog’s next tablet. Like all medicines, some dogs will be more sensitive to it than others. So, while at the normal doses carprofen is not bad for dogs, keep an eye out for side effects and keep all medicines out of reach of your pooch.
How Long Can Dogs Take Carprofen For?
Depending on the cause of the inflammation, your dog may take carprofen for the short or long term. Some veterinarians may prescribe a short course (a couple of weeks for example) of the drug after a surgical procedure. But, in cases of osteoarthritis, it may be prescribed over a longer period.
Veterinarians are very familiar with determining the carprofen dosage for dogs. The dosage will be linked to the amount of time your dog will take the medicine. If you have any doubts, your vet is the best person to speak to.
Is Carprofen Safe for My Dog?
You should not administer carprofen to dogs who have gastrointestinal ulceration or bleeding. In extreme circumstances, your dog’s vet might use carprofen despite this condition. However, this will require constant management. Renal toxicity is another key concern in dogs that are taking carprofen. In simple terms, this is when the drug starts to damage your dog’s kidneys. Signs of kidney damage or failure in dogs can include:
- sudden weight loss
- pale gums
When Not to Give Carprofen
Don’t give carprofen to very young or very old dogs. Similarly, and very importantly you shouldn’t give carprofen to pregnant dogs. Because this drug is very palatable, it’s best to keep it in an extremely secure location. Some dogs may try to eat more than their prescribed dose if given the opportunity.
Clearly, from what we know so far, it’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions. Do not exceed the prescribed dosage and do not use carprofen with other anti-inflammatory drugs. Many veterinarians will also avoid using carprofen alongside aspirin in dogs.
What to Do in Case of Emergency
Although rare, it’s possible for side effects to pop up during use. Particularly if the dosage changes. So, you should always be ready to react quickly if your dog experiences any side effects or adverse reactions. If you do notice any unusual behavior from your dog, or any visible side effects, call your vet straight away. Or if your own vet isn’t available for whatever reason, take your dog to the emergency veterinarian.
How to Store Carprofen for Dogs
Carprofen prescriptions most often come in the form of tablets. The proper care for them will usually be detailed on the packaging. But, in general, it’s important to keep the tablets safe and dry, and out of reach from your dog. As we mentioned earlier, these tablets are very palatable. So, if your dog has easy access to them, they may eat more than they should and suffer from overdose symptoms.
Carprofen for Dogs – Evidence of Effectiveness
When it comes to medication for your dog, two factors are usually at the forefront of a pet owner’s mind: effectiveness and safety. Luckily, there are plenty of studies that investigate this.
Evidence in Studies
One study showed that carprofen for dogs gave satisfactory pain relief for at least 72 hours after surgery. It performed slightly better than a similar anti-inflammatory drug, meloxicam. Plus, none of the dogs treated with carprofen had any major side effects.
Another study looked specifically at the effectiveness of carprofen in treating osteoarthritis. Lame dogs (805) due to osteoarthritis were treated with carprofen. The results showed 24 dogs experienced side effects (2%), 194 dogs were no longer lame after 14 days (26.7%), and 357 had some improvement (49.2%). Age, size, and length of the disease all had an effect on how quickly a dog responded to carprofen treatment.
Carprofen for dogs was, however, found to be remarkably good at treating osteoarthritis, with a very small amount of dogs experiencing side effects.
When Carprofen for Dogs Doesn’t Work
Studies have proven carprofen to be quite effective. But, if you feel as though it’s not doing its job then you will need to contact your vet once again. As it is a prescription medication you will want to get some advice before taking your dog off it.
You may think this medicine isn’t working because your dog is displaying worrying side effects. Alternatively she may still be in obvious pain. The main thing is to check with your vet before taking matters into your own hands. Alternatives will depend on what the drug was being used to treat. So, if Carprofen is not right for your dog, your vet is best placed to suggest safe alternatives.
Carprofen for Dogs
Vets usually prescribe carprofen as a medication for post-surgery pain and osteoarthritis in dogs, due to its anti-inflammatory effects. In general, carprofen for dogs is considered both safe and effective. Studies have shown few carprofen side effects in dogs and relatively good success rates.
But, it is always best to get a clear diagnosis and a prescription from your dog’s vet before starting your dog on this medication. Your dog’s vet will be well versed in the health of your dog. They should know if this medication is the right choice. Is your dog taking carprofen? What is your experience with this medication?
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References and Resources
- Noah Compendium
- Ricketts, A. P. (et al), ‘Evaluation of Selective Inhibition of Canine Cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 by Carprofen and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs’, American Journal of Veterinary Research (1998)
- Leece, E. A. (et al), ‘Comparison of Carprofen and Meloxicam for 72 Hours Following Ovariohysterectomy in Dogs’, Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (2005)
- Mansa, S. (et al), ‘Long-Term Treatment with Carprofen of 805 Dogs with Osteoarthritis’, The Veterinary Record (2007)
- ‘Carprofen Summary Report 1’, European Medical Agency (1999)
- Duncan, B. (et al), ‘Guidelines for Safe and Effective Use of NSAIDs in Dogs’, Veterinary Therapeutics (2005)
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