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
- Treating inflammation with Carprofen
- Side effects of dog Carprofen
- Is Carprofen safe for dogs?
- How much Carprofen should a dog take?
What 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.
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
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Fatigue and/or lethargy
- Loss of coordination
- 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.
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
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%).
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.
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