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Carprofen For Dogs: Safe Dosages and Uses

Carprofen For Dogs: Safe Dosages and Uses

Just as people age, so do our pets. And seeing your beloved family pet in pain can make you feel quite helpless.

For dogs experiencing increased pain and inflammation, dog owners can take comfort in knowing there is medication that can alleviate their dog’s suffering. And with many pet insurance plans covering the cost of the medication, it could be an affordable solution to your furry friend’s aches and pains. ​​

What is Carprofen (Rimadyl) for Dogs?

Carprofen, also known by the brand name Rimadyl, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), similar to ibuprofen for humans, but is used in veterinary medicine.

Owners should never give their dogs human NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and aspirin, which can cause toxicity in dogs, according to the Pet Poison Helpline.

Carprofen, which comes in caplets, chewable tablets and injectable formula, has been approved by the FDA to manage pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and acute pain due to orthopedic surgery in dogs. Other common brand names for carprofen include Canidryl, Carprox, Carprodyl, Carprieve, Levafen, Norocarp, Novox, Quellin, Rimifin, Rovera, Rycarfa and Vetprofen.

Is Carprofen (Rimadyl) Safe to Give to Dogs?

When given at the prescribed dosage, carprofen is generally safe to give to dogs, says Dr. Michael Fleck, D.V.M., veterinarian and co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show, The Pet Buzz.

“Carprofen still serves as one of the most popular NSAIDs of choice prescribed by veterinarians because of its reputation of being safe,” Fleck wrote in an email to Forbes Advisor. “[It] has a predictable effective performance and familiarity with repeated use.”

Carprofen is not addictive and has been proven to successfully relieve pain, inflammation and fever in dogs.

Owners should follow their veterinarian’s directions when administering carprofen to their dog to avoid any complications or adverse reactions.

What Is Carprofen (Rimadyl) Used for in Dogs?

Carprofen is used primarily for pain relief for dogs who suffer from hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, post-surgical pain, acute or chronic pain and inflammation.

There are typically two reasons a veterinarian will prescribe carprofen for your dog:

  1. For chronic pain management, especially for dogs with osteoarthritis
  2. For post-surgical pain management and inflammation

Like all NSAIDs, carprofen can help treat inflammation and reduce pain and fevers.. As a result, it can help improve your pet’s mobility.

According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, not all dogs will respond the same way to taking NSAIDs. But those who do experience pain relief, usually see improvement within a matter of days. Keep in mind that once the NSAID is discontinued, your dog’s pain and inflammation may come back.

When Owners Can Give Carprofen (Rimadyl) to Dogs

If your veterinarian prescribes your dog carprofen for pain management, it’s critical to follow the prescribed orders.

The veterinarian will provide detailed instructions on how often and specifically how to administer your dog’s dosage. Each dog’s dose will be specific to their medical needs.

“Because carprofen is generally prescribed for medically compromised or aging pets, veterinarians will generally recommend physical exams including blood panels to review the integrity of blood corpuscles, kidney and liver function,” Fleck says.

Before prescribing the medication, your vet will likely obtain the following information, in addition to conducting a full exam:

  • The signs of pain and inflammation you’ve observed in your pet (i.e., limping, stiffness)
  • Your dog’s weight and exercise management plan
  • Any medical problems or allergies your dog might have
  • All medications your dog currently takes
  • If your dog is pregnant

When Owners Shouldn’t Give Carprofen to Dogs

Owners should always consult with their veterinarian and be sure to share all medications their dog is taking to ensure there are no dangerous interactions with carprofen.

“Owners should not give carprofen to dogs with pre-existing liver or kidney issues, or those allergic to NSAIDs,” says Dr. Michael Thompson, D.V.M., founder and leading veterinarian with Pets Food Safety, an online resource about consumption safety in dogs.

Carprofen should also not be given with other NSAIDs or steroids, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

When sharing your dog’s medical history and current medication list, be sure and include supplements, herbal medications, or any over the counter medications you are giving your dog.

VCA Hospitals also notes that carprofen should not be used in pets with:

  • Bleeding disorders or low platelet counts
  • Allergies to other NSAIDs

Carprofen should be used cautiously with pets that are:

  • Younger than six weeks of age
  • Elderly
  • Pregnant or lactating
  • Dehydrated
  • Living with pre-existing conditions, including liver, heart, kidney or gastrointestinal disease
  • Recovering from a prior bone injury

What is a Safe Carprofen (Rimadyl) Dosage for Dogs?

A safe dosage of carprofen for dogs is generally 2 mg/lb of body weight, Fleck says.

The specific amount, of course, will be determined by your veterinarian and will depend on your dog’s weight and any extenuating health issues.

Can Dogs Overdose on Carprofen?

While carprofen is safe and approved by the FDA to treat pain and inflammation in dogs, too much or chronic use can lead to toxicity, according to the American College of Veterinary Pharmacists.

It’s important that you use or discontinue prescribed medications as directed by your veterinarian.

Can I give my dog Carprofen every day?

Carprofen is generally administered daily in one pill, or divided in two, Fleck says. He adds that as long as there are no negative side effects and your dog is being monitored by their veterinarian, it’s fine to give your dog carprofen daily.

When you do give carprofen to your dog, it’s recommended you give it to them with food to reduce the chances of it causing an upset stomach. Vomiting can occur if given on an empty stomach.

Other Medicine Dosage and Uses For Dogs:

Carprofen (Rimadyl) Side Effects for Dogs

With regular, daily use of carprofen, your dog should experience relief from pain and inflammation.

However, carprofen can also cause negative side effects without warning, which generally involve the dog’s stomach, liver or kidney, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Potential negative side effects from carprofen include the following:

  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Change in bowel movement (including diarrhea, or black, tarry or bloody stools)
  • Change in behavior (such as decreased or increased activity level, incoordination, seizure or aggression)
  • Jaundice, including the yellowing of the gums, skin, or whites of the eyes
  • Change in drinking habits (including frequency or volume consumed)
  • Change in urination habits (frequency, color or odor)
  • Skin changes (including redness, scabs or scratching)

Signs of severe carprofen toxicity, which can occur within 48 to 72 hours after ingestion, include the following:

  • Weakness
  • Involuntary muscle movement
  • Seizures
  • Kidney damage, which includes increased thirst, increased urination, loss of appetite, refusal to eat, fatigue and vomiting

If you think your pet is having an adverse reaction from carprofen, it’s very important to call your vet, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 immediately for life-saving treatment advice (an $85 incident fee will apply).

How Long Does it Take for Carprofen (Rimadyl) to Start Working?

Because carprofen is given orally in a caplet or chewable tablet, it usually takes an hour for the medication to take effect.

But keep in mind that not all dogs will react to the medication in the same way, and it may take longer for it to take effect in other dogs.

How Long Does Carprofen Stay in a Dog’s system?

If administered correctly per the veterinarian’s dosing, carprofen tends to stay in a dog’s system for about 12 hours.Via PetInsurer.com's Secure Website

Bottom Line

At the proper dosage and under a veterinarian’s care, carprofen can be used safely on a daily basis to help alleviate pain and inflammation and improve your dog’s well-being and quality of life.

If you have questions about how to help your dog manage increased pain, it’s best to talk to your vet for guidance and to see if your dog is a good candidate for an NSAID like carprofen.

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