Carprofen For Dogs – What It Is, How It Works, Dosage and Side Effects

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carprofen for dogs

Carprofen is a non-steroidal anti inflammatory often used to treat osteoarthritis in dogs. It is effective in a number of settings where a dog is experiencing inflammation. Post operative inflammation is one example of where it may be used. Carprofen side effects in dogs may include loss of appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

What is Carprofen for dogs

Carprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug—more specifically, a steroid-free narcotic. It is useful in treating the painful inflammation caused by osteoarthritis.

Carprofen for dogs actually goes by multiple brand names:

Acticarp, Austiofen, Bomazeal, Canidryl, Carporal, Carprieve, Carprocow, Carprodolor, Carprodyl, Carprofelican, Carprofen, Carprofène, Carprofeno, Carprofenum, Carprogesic, Carprosol, Carprotab, Carprox, Comforion, Dolagis, Dolocarp, Dolox, Eurofen, Kelaprofen, Librevia, Norocarp, Norodyl, Novocox, Prolet, Reproval, Rimadyl, Rimifin, Rofeniflex, Rycarfa, Scanodyl, Tergive, Vetprofen, and Xelcor.

Every country may have its own name for this drug, and some might even have multiple names. But in reality, each brand is the same thing.

Carprofen for dogs: quick links

Follow the links below to jump to more information about this common questions

carprofen for dogsWhat is Carprofen used for in dogs

So what exactly is carprofen given to dogs for?

Carprofen for dogs is only available by prescription and is licensed by the FDA in the USA as well as in the UK and the EU.

It can be used for a number of different disorders and diseases.

The most common disease treated with carprofen is osteoarthritis since it reduces inflammation.

Carprofen can also reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis and may improve function.

In addition, carprofen for dogs is also used for pain management after surgery. Again, because of its anti-inflammatory property.

Inflammation after surgery is not uncommon. And carprofen can be used to combat pain even before it even starts.

Carprofen for Inflammation in dogs

Inflammation is the response to a cellular injury that can cause heat, redness, swelling and pain due to a myriad of factors.

It is a mechanism used to expel potentially toxic substances or, in the case of osteoarthritis a reaction to damaged cartilage.

How Does Carprofen for dogs Work?

The specific mechanism of action of carprofen is not completely understood.

However, it may work by inhibiting the COX enzyme, which plays a large role in inflammation.

In other words, it works by preventing the chemical that causes inflammation from working properly.

This prevents the inflammation from happening, which is why carprofen is called known as an anti-inflammatory.

Specifically, carprofen may inhibit a specific form of this enzyme, called COX2.

Carprofen dosage for dogs with Inflammation

Carprofen for dogs is not something you can order online or decide to give to your pet since it is only available in prescription form.

Therefore, only a vet 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.

The specific dosage will depend a lot on your dog’s weight and your dog’s vet will decide on the best tablet size for your pup based on a number of factors.

Most brands offer tablets in a variety of dosages. These include 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 often should I give my dog Carprofen

The recommended amount is normally given as a single dose, or as two doses taken throughout the day.

Other preparations of Carprofen for dogs

Carprofen comes in a chewable as well as a soluble table but also comes in a liquid form to be injected.

A carprofen injection is usually only administered after surgery.

Injecting carprofen for dogs simply 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 paired with tablets, to be taken afterward.

So what side effects can you expect from carprofen for dogs?

Side effects of dog Carprofen

Like other drugs of this kind, it is not completely understood how carprofen works. This means it may affect certain parts of the body that we’re not aware of.

However, the drug is approved by the FDA and is generally considered safe for dogs.

There are, of course, some side effects, just like with every medication:

  • 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

If your pet experiences any of the symptoms, it’s best to contact your dog’s vet immediately.

Keep an eye on any side effects

Whereas most side effects are not serious, it is always 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.

As we have seen, side effects are generally rare. This is mainly because most vets are very conservative with their dosing.

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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.

Consult your vet

It is, however, possible for side effects to pop up if the dosage changes so it’s always important to be vigilant and react quickly if you pup experiences any side effects.

In saying that, 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.

This means that your pet needs lower regular doses to maintain the same amount in their bloodstream.

Is Carprofen safe for dogs

carprofen for dogs

When it comes to medication for your dog, two factors are usually at the forefront of a pet owner’s mind: effectiveness and safety.

So let’s look at a few studies that have explored both of these issues.

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. Furthermore, 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%).

Dog dependant

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.

Because of this, your vet may consider prescribing carprofen for your canine.

Is Carprofen bad for dogs

While there is no evidence that Carprofen is toxic it is vitally important to adhere to the dosages prescribed by your vet.

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, you dog may take Carprofen for the short or long term.

Some vets may prescribe a short course (a couple of weeks for example) of the drug after a surgical procedure. However, in cases of osteoarthritis, it may be prescribed over a longer period.

Vets 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.

Contraindications for dog Carprofen

Clearly, from what we know so far, it’s important to follow your vet’s instructions.

Do not exceed the prescribed dosage and do not use carprofen with other anti-inflammatory drugs.

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.

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.

When Carprofen for dogs doesn’t work

Studies have proven Carprofen to be quite effective. However, 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.

Reasons you may think this medicine isn’t working is that 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.

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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.

However, 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.

Carprofen and your dog

Is your dog taking carprofen? What is your experience with this medication?

Let us know in the comment section below!

We have extensively revised this article in 2019.

References and Further Reading

  • Noah Compendium
  • Rimadyl (company website)
  • Ricketts AP et al. 1998. Evaluation of selective inhibition of canine cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 by carprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. American Journal of Veterinary Research.
  • Leece EA et al. 2005. Comparison of carprofen and meloxicam for 72 hours following ovariohysterectomy in dogs. Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia.
  • Mansa S et al. 2007. Long-term treatment with carprofen of 805 dogs with osteoarthritis. The Veterinary Record.
  • European Medical Agency. Carprofen Summary Report 1. 1999

20 COMMENTS

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 ?!?

  17. 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.

  18. 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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