Managing Dog Leg Pain with Carprofen

Carprofen, a generic form of rimadyl, can be used to manage pain and inflammation due to canine arthritis, dog leg pain, orthopedic and soft tissue surgery. Carprofen, rimadyl, etodolac and estogesic all belong to NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs), a group of medications that suppress a chemical in the body called cyclooxygenase that causes pain and joint inflammation. They are used to relieve pain and reduce the inflammation of arthritis. Codeine and morphine (opioids) are used to alleviate chronic and extreme pain.

NSAIDs Side Affects

NSAIDS have some side effects including loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, depression and diarrhea. There are also some common risks with the use of NSAIDs including kidney or liver damage, ulcers, digestive tract perforations and gastrointestinal bleeding. NSAIDs are prescribed and monitored by a veterinarian and can be administered via tablets, caplets, drops or injections. Symptoms seem to reappear after discontinuation of the use of NSAIDs. Sometimes NSAIDs use is discontinued during glucosamine/chondroiton therapy, which regenerates lost and damaged cartilage in the joints. Carprofen should not be combined with other NSAIDs (aspirin) or steroids (prednisone), since the reaction can be fatal.

Carprofen Use should Be Monitored

Carprofen works by inhibiting the body biochemicals that cause inflammation; however, by doing so, it can also block positive health effects. The use of carprofen must be monitored by a veterinarian via blood tests for possible kidney and liver problems including permanent damage. Some dogs have had allergic reactions to carprofen and other NSAIDs; some so severe that they caused sudden death. Exhibition of an upset stomach, diarrhea, bloody stools, lethargy, behavioral changes, constipation, appetite changes or an increase in liver enzymes should all be reported immediately to the veterinarian. These signs indicate a serious side effect involving the kidneys, liver or digestive tract that needs immediate attention of a veterinarian. Discontinue use of carprofen immediately. There seems to be no long term side effects for long-term use of carprofen.

Usual Dosage of Carprofen

Total daily dosages are 2 mg/pound of body weight. Chewables seem to be the most preferred method of the administration of carprofen or rimadyl by both pets and their owners. In palatability studies, 99% of large dogs and 100% of small dogs readily accepted the chewables. Rimadyl caplets were also easy to administer, treating over 10 million dogs worldwide. Rimadyl injectable is the first and only NSAID approved for both canine osteoarthritis and post-operative pain for use by a veterinarian. It can also be administered before surgery so that pain management is started before surgery begins.


Etodolac is also a NSAID used for inflammation and the management of pain associated with osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia as well as other types of pain and inflammation. However, as with other NSAIDs, there are concerns regarding kidney damage and liver damage. Hives, diarrhea, lethargy and vomiting have also been reported with its use. When overdosages were administered, gastrointestinal bleeding occurred in toxicity studies. Dosages can be modified for effectiveness and patient comfort. Etodolac has shown to reduce fevers. Depression, decreased appetite, jaundice, bloody or black stools, vomiting, behavioral changes, uncoordinated movements and increase thirst and urination are all signs that need immediate veterinarian attention.

NSAIDs should not be combination with other NSAIDs or steroids since this can greatly increase the risk of stomach ulcers.