Etodolac (Etogesic Rx) and Dogs

Etodolac (Etogesic Rx)

Question: I emailed you several weeks ago regarding our German Shepherd. She had been limping, unable to walk for long distances etc. It turns out she has arthritis in her elbows combined with a low thyroid. In less than a week of thyroid medication her energy level climbed off the charts. Her slight overweight problem is also becoming less of a problem.

What can you tell me about EtoGesic? I know it is an anti-inflammatory agent. Thanks, Dale

Answer: Etodolac (Etogesic Rx) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication. It is a relatively new medication and it is considered to be less likely to upset the gastrointestinal tract than older NSAIDs, such as aspirin. This medication can be used long term but it is recommended to use the lowest dose that will work to control the pain when long term use is necessary. A similar medication, carprofen (Rimadyl Rx) has been associated with liver problems in a small number of dogs and it is possible that this effect could surface for etodolac, as well. If there are any signs of decreased appetite, loss of appetite, lethargy or anything that concerns you while your dog is on this medication it would be best to discontinue it and call your vet as soon as symptoms are noted.

Mike Richards, DVM 8/10/2000

Etodolac (Etogesic Rx)

Question: Dr. Mike, I just realized today that etodolac is available in a veterinary formulation. Besides the usual NSAID type risks what other adverse effects are seen with this drug? Anything similar to the effects reported with carprofen? What are the recommendations for long term use of etodolac in dogs? Are the makers of carprofen doing a better job of detailing or is etodolac not that safe and/or effective? The selling point the makers of etodolac use regarding human use is that there is a lower risk of GI bleed. Do they claim this for dogs as well? The ad I saw for veterinary use (which admittedly was geared toward owners and not vets) mentioned only the convenience of daily dosing versus twice daily for carprofen. Thanks for your time.


Answer: Pat-

There are starting to be scattered reports of liver damage that seems to be associated with etodolac (Etogesic Rx), similar to the experience with carprofen (Rimadyl Rx). It took a high number of administered doses of carprofen to recognize this effect, which is supposed to occur in about 6 in 10,000 dogs and as etodolac gains in popularity I suspect that there is a good chance the risk of problems for the two medications will be about equal, but it is too soon to be sure of that.

When etodolac is used long term it is recommended that the dose be tapered to the lowest effective once a day dose that will comfort the patient. There are reports of vomiting, diarrhea, hives and lethargy associated with the use of etodolac. Gastrointestinal bleeding occurred in toxicity studies when overdosages were administered. There are worries about kidney damage and liver damage, based on a few clinical reports and the general experience with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

I haven't used much etodolac because it is expensive to stock both carprofen and etodolac but our experience has been that its pain relieving effects are similar.

Mike Richards, DVM 7/14/2000


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...