Carprofen for Dogs – Understand Your Dog’s Medication

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Carprofen for dogs is most often used to treat canine osteoarthritis and other types of inflammation. It works by treating the inflammation caused by osteoarthritis, but will not eliminate the problem entirely.

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.

Drug Description – What is Carprofen for Dogs?

Carprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug—more specifically, 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.

Carprofen at a Glance

Brand names:Canidryl, carprieve, carprofen, Dolox, Norocarp, Prolet, Reproval, Rimadyl, Rycarfa, Vetprofen, and many more.
What it treats:Inflammation and associated pain
Dosage:Varies depending on your dog’s weight
How to get it:Via prescription with your veterinarian

Uses of Carprofen for Dogs

The most common disease treated with carprofen is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes painful joint inflammation. Carprofen for dogs 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 for dogs is common before and after surgery to combat pain and swelling.

Carprofen Side Effects in Dogs

Like all medications, there are some potential Carprofen side effects in dogs. 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.

Common Carprofen side effects in dogs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue and/or lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy
  • 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.

Carprofen for dogs comes 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.

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Carprofen for Dogs – Precautions

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 lethargy, sudden weight loss, pale gums, and more.

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.

Drug Interactions

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. 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.

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 Carprofen 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 – Summary

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?

References and Resources

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website

26 COMMENTS

  1. I had a 6 year old Lab Bitched spayed on Wednesday (May 5th 2021) and she came home fine and recovered from the anaesthetic very quickly. She was prescribed Carprodyl Quadri 75mg once a day for 6 days starting on Thursday which I gave her in the evening with her food which she quickly devoured in typical Labrador fashion. By Friday afternoon she was being violently sick and passing blood instead of stools like you wouldn’t believe! I was aware of the possible side effects of Carprodyl. It is now Saturday, May 8th and after seeing the Vet this morning and coming home with a buffet of medicine, she still won’t eat but she does seem a little brighter and, for the moment at least, she has stopped vommitting and passing blood. I think this was a close call. Of course, there is no way if knowing that a Bitch will react badly to Carprodyl after surgery (or for any other reason) but I will think twice about using it in the future. I have owned Labs for many years and looking back through my records, this is the first time I have ever used Carprodyl. I do not intend to frighten anyone but I thought my experience may help people become aware of the possible consequences.

  2. My border terrier bitch was spayed 5 days ago and after ethe operaton she was prescribed half a tablet of carprofen 50mg a day. She has always been a picky eater but since she started carprofen she won’t eat. As a known side effects of carprofen is lack of appetite, I’m going to stop giving her this drug. I have seen a vet, who said there was nothing obviously wrong and she is reasonably bright.

  3. Have a 103 lb lab. He was on 200 mg (100 AM 100 PM) then we cut him back to the morning, He takes NUPro also. I put him back to 200. to see how he does. Is that ok?

  4. Our Shih-Poo started having trouble with arthritis around the time of his 11th birthday. It definitely seemed to help. Vet suggested blood work after six months to make sure all was okay. Covid! He had his senior check-up while at the vet for an eye issue, and we really didn’t talk with the vet. A month later he deteriorated quickly, and we had to put him down. The emergency vet told us he was extremely anemic and had internal bleeding. They tried a blood transfusion but he didn’t take it well. I’m just heart broken that we didn’t see the signs before it was too late. If we were able to have a normal vet visit a month earlier maybe we would have caught it in time. I don’t know that carprofen is directly to blame, but I regret we didn’t use the fact that he was on it to get blood work done.

  5. My 12 y/0 Min Pin went through a bad bout of Pancreatitis, I almost lost her but couldn’t stand the thought of her staying in a cage at the Vets so I was able to get Bolus equipment and bolus her once a day with about 150cc of normal saline. She recovered from the Pancreatitis but had no energy, and became very sensitive in the head and neck area.It was so awful watching this debilitating condition, her appetite was great…weird…I got some Carprofen from the vet and it has worked wonders. She raises her head when she walks and back to her usual barking. She no longer jumps on the bed or couch after all she has been through which I attribute to age and osteoarthritis. Sometimes she has a hard time getting comfortable at night and if I move she is up and following me

  6. My doggy Georgie had his teeth cleaned and a few teeth pulled out. He was put on 25 mg of chewable Carprofen for 4 days. He took them fine and they seemed to work for his pain. Today is the 6th since surgery and he is walking the floors and unable to relax. He’s eating fine, but he seems jumpy and anxious. I’m calling the vet when they open. Has anyone else had any of these symptoms after Carprofen was finished?

  7. My 14 yo Golden given 100mg twice daily for lameness, has a huge lipoma under right shoulder and another in groin area, has mobility issues. It appeared to help until 5 th day. I came home from work and my pup didn’t recognize me, walking in circles, and walking into furniture. He appeared not able to even see his doggie food bowl when placed in front of him. Would not go outside, acted as if he was unfamiliar with his surroundings altogether. Very scary, thought he was having a stroke. Its now the next day and he is his normal self again. Could it be the medication? Awaiting a call from the Vet to discuss. I don’t plan on resuming this medication.

  8. my 10 year old Yorke is taking carprofen for carcinoma nasal cancer they said it helps with the inflammation and it has stuff in it to slow the tumor from growing. but unfortunately Jacob tumor is already growing outward from his nose of his bridge its under his skin. we are just hoping that this medication will help it and slow it down because I am not ready to let my little guy go. He is still very active running playing eating the only thing that bothers him is his breathing from his nose so we are up most of the night which I’m fine with because I’m so worried that if I fall asleep something will happen. Does any one else have this illness with there dog and if so how are you dealing with it.im not ready to let my boy go.

  9. Any recorded cases of elderly (14 yr ) dogs loosing their sight ?
    No macular degeneration evident but “failure ” to function so to speak. failed the 3 light test ( red /Blue/white I think they were. No reaction to white light so vet says thats it.
    Was on 20mg twice dayly for 5 days Totally blind 2 weeks later BUT I dont know how sudden it was as the dog was in kennels for the last 5 days.

  10. My 2 year old lab was prescribed Caprofen 100 mg daily prior to having surgery for a torn ACL (TPLO) a week ago. She has vomited twice in the last few days, which is unusual and as I read it, a side effect of the medication.

  11. My dog was on Rimidyl for a few days and did fine. I received some Carprofen (I know Rimidyl is the same supposedly) and twice when I’ve given it to her for a few days, she’s had a raging allergic reaction. This dog is already prone to weird ear and itching feet reactions, but the Carprofen seems to flare it up badly.

  12. My dog, a bichon frise, almost 15 years was prescribed this medicine and also an antibiotica called Synulox. Instead of feeling better, she was getting worse, she was vomiting, she couldn’t keep her food down, feeling lethargic, agitated and also walking back and forth.today we got the bloodtest results, she has kidney disease, and she is off the carpofen. She is prescribed a special diet for kidney disease and is given medicine against vomiting. I pray this helps to keep her food down.

  13. My 10 year old husky has been given Carprofen twice now for various injuries and both times he perked up so much he was like a puppy. I finally asked my doctor if he could have it daily and now he is so lively and happy. I wish I realized the effects of this sooner. He must have been miserable before and I just didn’t know.

  14. My dog, Marty, just started on 75mg carprofen, twice a day, yesterday for arthritis. He has been phenobarbital for seizures since April and Doxycycline to treat anaplasmosis since September. He just had a dizzy spell and I wanted to check on possible side effects.
    You have provided a lot of useful information. I’m wondering if the combination of all these pills can cause more problems for Marty .
    Thank you for any information you can provide.

  15. We have been giving our Shadow who is 12 yrs 9 months. carprofen for about 7 months now along with tramadol for about 6 months she has had bloodwork 3 times two times when she started it and this Friday now she has a low platelet count is she going to be ok I is it because of the carprofen

  16. after 3 days of giving our 90 lb. 10 year old black lab Sadey carprofen 75 mg twice a day she experienced a bout of dizziness/nausea ? so severe that when she shake her head she fell down with difficulty getting her self back up, walking in circles with difficulty keeping her legs straight under her and seems to be walking in a drunken state. It is Sat afternoon and the vet/humane society that prescribed it for arthiritus is not open. I am taking her off it until we can talk to the vet who prescribed it.

  17. I have a 11 year old poodle and Shih Tzu mix he was prescribed the same medicine at first it was working for a couple of days and now it’s not working he’s real agitated walking back-and-forth walking back-and-forth turning in circles and I don’t know what to do can someone give me some advice.Not that Marian said that he was in pain but he cannot tell me where the pain is coming from I also have a lot work done up and at work came back normal so I don’t know what kind of pain he’s in and he has not slept and really two days and I don’t know what to do. His dose is 25mg

  18. my approximately 10yr old Chesapeake/Lab (with 4other breeds) mix was diagnosed with arthritis, through the animal clinic, and put on carprofen. we of course, had to have the periodic bloodwork, which showed her organs were handling it just fine. at first, it seemed to help, but then she took a turn for the worse and when i changed vets, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. it had already spread up her leg 🙁
    have no idea if it is related, since the first vet didn’t seem to be concerned about her overall health; only addressing arthritis.

  19. Our 1 year old French bulldog has a spine malformation and we have been prescribed Carprofen to reduce inflammation in the spine where it pinches. without it she has horrible pain and cant get around well. With it she is quite mobile and is able to play with her 4 year old brother. The only slight side effect that we see with her is boul instability- though I believe its more of the spine malformation than the drug. she urinates more then our Male though I believe this is due to his ability to control his bladder since he doesn’t have a malformed spine issue. they both are feed raw food that keeps them well hydrated, neither of them drink much water at all. Overall im really happy with this medication for her though im looking for a long term more natural solution for her

  20. My seven month golden retriever was put on 1/2 tablet of 100 mg twice a day for a week until xrays could be taken of her right leg. She experienced vomiting and a little diarrhea and loss of appetite. The biggest change is that she went from a sweet gentle pup to showing signs of aggression.

  21. I have had a few different dogs on Carprofen for after surgery and arthritis; have had no problems. Think this is a great medication if used properly.

  22. Our chocolate lab was prescribed Carprofen and not 12hours later had severe bloody diarrhoea, vomiting and lethargy. We immediately took her off but its persisting. The Vet says this is common for Carprofen and Retrievers ?!?

  23. My 2 y/o German Shepard Thor who weighs 125 lbs was given Carpofen 100mg twice daily following a surgery. It was very well tolerated. He is on day 9 of 10 day dosing and has had no side effects. I highly recommend this medication.

  24. My dog was given carprofen for his arthritis in March of 2018. June 15th 2018 he started scratching and losing his fur in clumps and also had hives and a rash on his stomach. A couple weeks later he started drinking his water excessively and this appetite decreased. He also had a very cloudy left eye. Took him to the opthalmologist. they prescribed drops. very worried about him I took him in July because of his itching and hair loss and yet no appetite in July because of his itching and hair loss and had no appetite. The vet said his gums were white and that he was anemic. Rushed him to the 24-hour clinic where he was given a blood transfusion. I told to veterinarian that I believed it was a reaction to his medication. They told me no it was not. but all the things that I’ve read up on carprofen . exactly the side effects he was having. thank God I took them when I did I could have lost him. I think pet owners should really watch their dog when they’re on this medicine or better yet don’t give it to him. why don’t the veterinarian’s listen to you. I know my dog. all his other lab work was normal except for his low red blood count. when he went to emergency it was a 16 count. after the transfusion it went up to a 30 count. 2 days later it was a 20-count. today he gets a recheck and I’m praying to God it’s up where it’s supposed to be. Thank you for your time and if this message could save a precious dog its life and I thank my lucky stars above. When on this medicine your dog should be monitored and your veterinarian should check on him every couple months. I’m not a pharmacist and I’m not a veterinarian but I know when my dog is having a reaction to something. Thanks for your time, Victoria and her boy Johnny

    • Hi, I hope your dog is okay by now. I´m a vet student and I´m doing a project on adverse reactions to carprofen. Do you have more information that could be useful?

      • My lab has been on carprofen for a few months. After a few weeks he developed diarrhea. A few weeks later he got it again combined with vomiting and lethargy. He was treated for a bowel infection, but here we are 2 weeks later and he’s got diarrhea again. Side effects of carprofen May be rare, but I really think it is the culprit in this case. It helps his arthritis immensely but makes him sick st the same time. Now I don’t know what to do for his arthritis. ☹️

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