Commonly Prescribed NSAIDS for Dog Leg Pain

Dog leg pain may be caused by a wide range of problems including joint pain and arthritis or an external wound caused by an accident. Most commonly, the dog will receive pain medication, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are ideal to reduce swelling and deal with the pain. NSAIDS are an alternative to steroids, which are more dangerous and have multiple side effects. The most common NSAIDS used in canines include Etodolac, Carprofen, Phenylbutazone and Aspirin.


Phenylbutazone is an NSAID and it is also a cylo-oxygenase inhibitor that can relieve pain and reduce swelling and fever. Phenylbutazone can be used for leg pain, regardless of whether the pain is in the bone or the muscles. Most often, vets prescribe Phenylbutazone for osteoarthritis that causes chronic pain.

Phenylbutazone works by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins and other inflammatory substances in the dog's body. It can be administered orally or through injections and will have an immediate effect.

Common Phenylbutazone side effects include rashes and skin irritations. The lengthy administration of Phenylbutazone may cause a decreased blood flow to the kidneys, which can cause complications and renal dysfunction.


Etodolac is a pain reliever that can be used in dogs with joint pain. Etodolac is an NSAID that is also marketed as Lodine or EtoGesic. The drug should be prescribed only for dogs that weigh more than 10 pounds, as it may be dangerous for smaller dogs.

Common side effects of Etodolac include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the vomit and stools, fever, skin rashes, seizures, jaundice and refusal to eat. Some dogs may be allergic to Etodolac and may develop severe reactions such as swelling of the face and air passages, hindering normal breathing. The dog should be taken to the vet immediately, should such reactions occur. Etodolac shouldn't be used in pregnant or lactating dogs.


Carprofen, or Rimadyl, is a commonly used NSAID in older dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia. Carprofen is similar to Phenylbutazone as it inhibits the secretion of prostaglandins.

Side effects of Carprofen include lack of appetite, wobbling and lack of coordination, fatigue, increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, seizures and liver malfunction. Carprofen is often used in conjunction with steroids.


Aspirin is the most common NSAID that can relieve dog leg pain. Dogs can be given aspirin designed for humans, but be extra cautious when selecting the dosage. Always consult the vet prior to administering aspirin to your pet. There is also aspirin created especially for veterinary use.

Side effects of aspirin may include stomach ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, blood clotting problems and lack of appetite.


You should never administer human over the counter NSAIDs to your dog. Even though aspirin for humans can be administered to dogs in low doses for leg pain, other NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, Advil and Nurofen can be highly toxic for the pet.