Rimadyl for Dogs: What Is It Used For And How Does It Work?

rimadyl for dogs

Rimadyl for dogs is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID). It is used for a number of inflammation conditions like osteoarthritis and at times for hip dysplasia. Rimadyl is generally well tolerated by dogs. However rimadyl dosage for dogs should only be determined by a vet.

Side effects of Rimadyl for dogs can include gastrointestinal issues, lethargy, increased thirst, seizures, and more. Read on to find out more about what Rimadyl for dogs can be used for, and how it will affect your pup.

What is Rimadyl for dogs

Rimadyl for dogs is a prescription medication that is also called Carprofen. The generic Rimadyl for dogs is Novox, so you might see this name too. While Rimadyl, Carprofen and Novox are the most common names, the drug is also called Dolox, Kelaprofen, Austiofen and Vetprofen. This medication is in the same class of drugs as naproxen and ibuprofen, which are called propionic acid drugs due to their chemical composition.

What does this mean exactly? Well, it means that dog anti-inflammatory Rimadyl works in the same way that ibuprofen or Advil would work for you. The medicine eliminates pain by reducing inflammation. Specifically, it blocks certain inflammatory compounds from being released in the body. However, unlike ibuprofen, Rimadyl is made for canines, so it is safe for your dog, while a medication like Advil can be toxic and deadly to your canine.

 Rimadyl for dogs: Quick Links

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What is Rimadyl used for in dogs

Rimadyl is an NSAID that is commonly prescribed for dogs who have some sort of inflammatory condition. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common canine inflammatory issues, so it is no surprise that Rimadyl is most often used to treat arthritis. The medication can also reduce the discomfort of hip dysplasia, and it can be used to reduce pain after an operation.

Rimadyl can be used long-term, or it can be supplied to your pup on a short-term basis. This will depend on your dog’s medical condition, and it is extremely important for your dog’s vet to make a diagnosis before the medicine is prescribed.  In other words, you should not and cannot just give the drug to your dog.

Rimadyl for Arthritis in dogs

Osteoarthritis is a condition that will irritate your dog his whole adult life. It is much more common in older dogs. In the main, this condition is the gradual degradation of the cartilage in your dog’s joint. It can be quite painful and cause quite a lot of inflammation.

How does Rimadyl for Arthritis work

As you now now, Rimadyl is a NSAID. The clue here is in the ‘AI’ – anti-inflammatory element. By reducing the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, you also reduce the pain. Unfortunately, arthritis is degenerative and will be with your dog for the rest of his life. So, while you can reduce his suffering and make him more comfortable, Rimadyl is by no means a cure.

Rimadyl dosage for dogs with Arthritis

Your vet will usually administer capsules. Depending on the level of discomfort your dog is in your vet might prescribe between 25mg and 100mg.

How often should I give my dog Rimadyl?

You should consult with your vet on the exact dosage. In some cases she will instruct you to administer two tablets or capsules a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Rimadyl for Hip Dysplasia in dogs

Hip dysplasia is a skeletal disease that is quite common in many dogs. There is a degree to which this disease is inherited, although a dog’s lifestyle can contribute to its seriousness. Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the ball and socket joint in the hip. It means that instead of working smoothly with each other, the ball and socket grind against one another, causing considerable pain and discomfort.

How does Rimadyl for Hip Dysplasia work

Similar to its use for arthritis, Rimadyl for dogs helps to alleviate the pain of hip dysplasia by reducing the inflammation around the affected join. Again, use of this painkiller is not a cure for this disease. It is however, very useful for decreasing your dog’s level of discomfort. This, in turn, should help to improve his quality of life.

Rimadyl dosage for dogs with Hip Dysplasia

Some reports indicate that an effective dose is 100mg, twice daily. However, this is the upper limit of dosages. Your vet may alter the dosage based on your dog’s weight and the severity of his condition.

How often should I give my dog Rimadyl

I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now, you need to consult with your vet before administering any medication. Your vet will tell you exactly when and how to give your dog his medication.

Other preparations of Rimadyl for dogs

According to the manufacturer’s data sheet, Rimadyl for dogs can be prescribed as capsules or chewable tablets. There is also an injectable form of the medicine that can be administered by a veterinarian. Dosages may vary depending on your dog’s condition. The injectable Rimadyl dosage for dogs is 50 mg of the medication. Capsules and chewable tablets come in 25 mg, 75 mg and 100 mg dosages.

Most veterinarians will provide the chewable Rimadyl tablets for dogs. Giving your canine his daily dose of the NSAID is fairly easy. You can simply slip the tablet in your dog’s favorite treat or use a pill pocket with a bit of peanut butter and flour. These are great for both chewables and capsules.

If your dog is prescribed two daily doses of the NSAID, then give one dose in the morning at breakfast time and give the second dose right before bed. Dogs can metabolize medication at different rates, so the 12-hour separation of the doses is the safest option.

Side effects of dog Rimadyl

There are Rimadyl for dogs side effects but don’t worry too much. There are side effects for the vast majority of medicines. You should work with your veterinarian to understand these side effects so you know that the therapeutic benefits of your pet are worth the risks. For example, many people want to know if Rimadyl makes dogs sleepy, and your vet can best answer this question.

The good news is that studies show a vast improvement in mobility and pain relief in dogs who use Rimadyl over an extended period of time. Specifically, there was a 50 percent increase in positive outcomes over a 120-day period. In other words, dog owners typically saw a reduction in lameness, pain, movement difficulties and joint limitations over the course of treatment. However, the same studies showed some adverse side effects in a small number of canines. The vast majority of Rimadyl for dogs side effects involved gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and a poor appetite.

Some canines experience soft stools when taking Rimadyl, but this is not a serious side effect. Other side effects include black stools, lethargy, increased thirst, seizures and itching of the skin.


Allergies to Rimadyl are also possible, so you should definitely watch for any signs of this, especially when you first administer the medication. Some signs of an allergic reaction include a swollen face, itchy skin, hives, restlessness and red skin.

In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction can occur. This can cause anaphylaxis. If you notice that your canine has trouble breathing, collapses or experiences a seizure soon after taking Rimadyl, then seek out emergency medical care as soon as possible.

Is Rimadyl safe for dogs

While NSAID medications are typically well tolerated by most canines, Rimadyl and other drugs can cause kidney and liver damage over time. This is one reason why NSAID therapies are not recommended for canines with kidney disease or with liver problems. Speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s health and about blood work that can be completed to test for decreased liver and kidney function.

Also, you should be aware that studies have been completed that show there are some serious toxicity issues when it comes to canines and NSAID pain relievers. It is extremely important to understand how the Rimadyl should be administered, or your dog may experience acute kidney or liver failure.

Using Rimadyl for dogs safely

You should always follow the Rimadyl dosage recommendations provided by your veterinarian. Your dog’s veterinarian will consider a number of factors when providing the prescription such as your canine’s weight and age. If you feel that the dosage is not large enough, then make an appointment with your veterinarian. We know it can be hard to see your dog in pain, but it can take some time for the medication to reduce inflammation.

Dog Rimadyl toxicity

If you do accidentally give your canine too much of the NSAID or if your dog gets ahold of the medication bottle and eats the entire thing, then seek immediate medical care. This can cause an acute toxicosis or overdose issue. Studies show that toxicosis can occur when your canine consumes a dosage of Rimadyl greater than 100 mg.

Rimadyl overdoses in dogs

Some signs of Rimadyl overdose in dogs include confusion, stupor, seizures, vomiting and unresponsiveness. Make sure to store your medication in an out-of-reach area. We know that some dogs will eat almost anything, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Rimadyl has a terminal half life of eight hours. This means it will take eight hours for the medicine to pass through your dog.

How long can dogs take Rimadyl for

When you give the medication to your dog, he absorbs about 90% of it. The medication is typically effective about one to three hours after administration, and the half-life of the medicines is about eight hours on average. Since the medication can last some time and remain in the bloodstream for eight hours or more, your veterinarian will likely prescribe one to two doses of the medication in a 24-hour period. The vet may also prescribe the medication as needed.

Your dog may take Rimadyl either on a short or long term basis. It all depends on your dog’s condition and potentially his size. As always, make sure you follow your vet’s instructions to the letter.

Contraindications for dog Rimadyl

According to manufacturers, the main contraindication for this medication is any sign of previous sensitivity to Rimadyl (Carprofen, or any other brand name).

When Rimadyl for dogs doesn’t work

So, what happens if you don’t notice any improvement in your dog’s condition? Your first and last port of call should be to your vet. She might recommend increasing the dose to see if that has any effect. If there is no observable benefit to the higher dose it might be worth looking for alternatives.

There are a plethora of pain relief medications that vets can prescribe. Talk to your vet about other options. While it’s true that Rimadyl is very safe, it’s not the only relief out there.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Rimadyl for dogs

Rimadyl dog medicine helps to reduce pain in canines with joint and osteoarthritis issues. However, your veterinarian may prescribe the drug for any painful conditions that require treatment.

This medication is an NSAID especially for canines. However, you do need to speak with your veterinarian about the use of the medicine. You need to konw how it will benefit your canine, and what the Rimadyl for dogs side effects may be. Once you have all the facts, give the drug to your canine as directed by your veterinarian.

Does your canine take an NSAID pain reliever such as Rimadyl, or are you searching for the best way to treat your dog’s pain symptoms? Let us know in the comments below

Rimadyl and your dog

Has a vet prescribed Rimadyl for your dog? Did they find it helpful? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

References and Further Reading

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


  1. My 11 yr old yellow has been on Carprofen for a couple years now. Works great we see a difference. He has arthritis in the back leg and with this med he’s jumping and running no problems.