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When we pick up prescription medication for ourselves, most of us take the time to do a little research about the side effects. We should do the same kind of research when we get a prescription medication for our dogs. If your vet prescribed Rimadyl for your dog, you need to know about what Rimadyl treats, potential side effects, and possible alternatives to the drug if your dog has an adverse reaction.

What Is Rimadyl?

Rimadyl is one of the brand names for the veterinary drug carprofen. Carprofen belongs to a group of drugs called NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs act to reduce inflammation with fewer negative side effects than steroids, making them more suitable than steroids for long-term use.

Carprofen is safer for use in dogs than human NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin, which is why it is one of the more commonly prescribed veterinary canine painkillers. This is also why it is never a good idea to treat your dog with pills from your own medicine cabinet, as many human medications can have serious consequences for dogs.

Rimadyl for dogs comes in three forms: caplets, chewable tablets, and an injection. Talk to your vet about which method is best for your dog.

What Is Rimadyl Used For?

If you’re not sure why your vet prescribed Rimadyl for your dog, the first thing you should do is call your vet’s office for clarification. There are two main reasons why vets prescribe Rimadyl for dogs.

  • As part of a chronic pain management strategy for dogs with osteoarthritis
  • As a post-operative medication to treat pain and inflammation in dogs after surgery

Rimadyl for dogs works in three ways:

  • Treats inflammation
  • Reduces fever
  • Reduces pain

These qualities make it highly effective at treating osteoarthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of Rimadyl help reduce the joint inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, which reduces pain, and the analgesic properties of the drug also reduce pain. Since the drug is tolerated relatively well by the majority of canine patients, Rimadyl is a good choice for long-term pain management of arthritis in dogs.

Vets prescribe short-term use of Rimadyl for dogs after surgery for the same reasons. The drug reduces post-operative inflammation and also helps manage acute pain, keeping the patient more comfortable.

Talk to your vet about your dog’s condition if you have any questions about why he or she prescribed Rimadyl.

Side Effects of Rimadyl for Dogs

Rimadyl can have have serious side effects that owners need to be aware of, especially for long-term use. The most common problems associated with Rimadyl are related to the GI tract.

GI complications include:

Liver and kidney side effects are rare, but when they do occur they are very serious. Most vets recommend running regular blood work to monitor the liver, especially in older dogs and in dogs that take Rimadyl long-term.

How do you tell if your dog is having an adverse reaction to Rimadyl? Here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • Change in appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Black, tarry, or bloody stool
  • Changes in behavior (increased or decreased activity, changes in coordination, aggression)
  • Seizure
  • Increased or decreased drinking
  • Urinary symptoms (change in frequency, color, or smell of urine)
  • Skin symptoms (scabbing, itching, or redness)
  • Yellowing of gums, skin, or whites of the eyes (jaundice)

If you notice any of these symptoms or any other change in your dog, call your vet immediately. Adverse side effects can have serious repercussions. The sooner you catch them, the sooner your vet can help get your dog back on the right track.

Pros and Cons of Rimadyl for Dogs

The side effects associated with Rimadyl are serious, but so is the negative impact on quality of life from canine osteoarthritis. As an owner, you need to weigh the pain associated with osteoarthritis with the relatively low risk of Rimadyl side effects. Talk to your vet about your concerns and let her know about any other medications your dog is on, as well as any other conditions that your vet might not be aware of.

Alternatives to Rimadyl for Dogs

Rimadyl is one of the safest NSAIDs available for dogs, but there are alternatives if your dog has an adverse reaction. Talk to your vet about prescribing an alternative painkiller or about alternative pain management strategies for your dog’s osteoarthritis.

Your veterinarian is your best source of information about Rimadyl for dogs. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you might have and be sure you give your dog the prescribed dosage and follow your veterinarian’s instructions.
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