Rimadyl For Dogs With Arthritis

Carprofen is the active ingredient in Rimadyl, one of a class of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is an effective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for dogs with osteoarthritis and for relieving pain after surgery. This product is available only with a veterinary prescription.

These have been around for many years for treating human aches and pains. However, many common NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are not as safe in dogs as they are in people, so specific NSAIDs for dogs have been developed.

The body contains substances known as prostaglandins which are involved in producing pain, in the destruction of cells and in inflammation, protecting the stomach wall from stomach acid and maintaining blood flow to the stomach, intestines and kidney, and assisting in blood clotting.

The aim is to prevent the production of the prostaglandins involved in inflammation, but to spare those involved in maintaining gut and kidney health and blood clotting.

NSAIDs block cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes, preventing the production of prostaglandins. However, there are two types of COX enzyme which produce different prostaglandins.

  • COX-1 produces the housekeeping enzymes involved in protecting stomach, intestine and kidney function
  • COX-2 produces the enzymes associated with pain and inflammation.

Different NSAIDs have varying abilities to block one form of COX and spare the other. Most of those approved for use in dogs tend to select for blocking COX-2 more than COX-1, thus making them safer and more effective in relieving pain and inflammation.

"The Rimadyl brand of carprofen is currently the most widely used canine NSAID in the United States.1"

Carprofen is no exception. It is called a COX-2-preferential drug which means that it inhibits more COX-2 than COX-1. It is indicated for the relief of pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis as well as the control of post-operative pain in dogs. Many owners have found it to be very effective in relieving their arthritic dog's discomfort. The Rimadyl brand of carprofen is currently the most widely used canine NSAID in the United States.1 The medication can be given once or twice daily, as convenient, for a total daily dose of 2mg/lb bodyweight1. Varying pack sizes and strengths are available. Like most NSAIDs for pets, it is a prescription product available only with a veterinarian's approval.

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As with all NSAID drugs, there may be adverse reactions to carprofen. Most are related to the prostaglandin inhibition in the gastrointestinal tract or kidneys. Dogs may also have allergic responses to Rimadyl as with any medication. Some common signs of drug intolerance include decreased appetite, vomiting, dark or tarry stools, diarrhea, increased water consumption and urination, anemia, jaundice, lethargy, a loss of coordination, as well as seizures or behavioral changes. These reactions can occur very suddenly and, on rare occasions, result in the animal's death.2

Should these or other signs be noted while a dog is taking Carprofen, owners should discontinue the medication immediately and contact their veterinarian for advice. The majority of dogs will recover with appropriate therapy when the medication is withdrawn. Periodic monitoring (blood testing and clinical examination) is advisable for any dog taking NSAID medication2.


1. Rimadyl Caplets Overview. http://www.rimadyl.com
2. US Prescribing Information - Rimadyl. http://www.rimadyl.com

Rimadyl is a registered trademark of Pfizer.