The Side Effects of Rimadyl for Dogs

Rimadyl is often used for the treatment of arthritis symptoms in dogs. However, it has some serious side effects of which owners should be aware.

What is Rimadyl?

Rimadyl, or the generic version carprofen, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used in the treatment of pain or inflammation associated with arthritis, hip dysplasia or post-surgical procedures. Your veterinarian may prescribe this if your dog is showing signs of limping or lameness, reluctance to perform certain activities such as jumping or climbing stairs, or stiffness in the joints. Rimadyl provides 24-hour relief from these symptoms if taken once a day by reducing hormones that cause pain and inflammation and is available in caplets, chewables or injections.

Precautions When Using Rimadyl

Rimadyl should not be combined with the use of any other NSAID, such as aspirin. In fact, the University of California-Davis veterinary program recommends a cooling off period of two weeks when switching from NSAIDs if Rimadyl or carprofen are involved. It should also not be used with steroids or corticosteroids such as prednisone, prednisolone or dexamethasone.

Rimadyl is not appropriate for dogs with liver disease, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease or a tendency for gastrointestinal ulceration. Dogs should be prescreened for these conditions before taking the drug, and liver and kidney enzymes should be monitored in all dogs who stay on Rimadyl for an extended time.

Rimadyl Side Effects

In rare cases, Rimadyl has been known to cause death, so owners are advised to watch closely for the following symptoms:

  • loss of appetite
  • changes in eating or drinking habits
  • Unusual patterns of urine, blood in urine, sweet-smelling urine, excessive urination or accidents in the house from a house-trained dog
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • black, tarry stool or flecks of blood in vomit
  • lethargy or drowsiness
  • hyperactivity
  • increased aggression
  • loss of balance, dizziness or weakness
  • paralysis
  • seizures
  • jaundice

If you recognize any of these symptoms, immediately stop use and consult your veterinarian.

Since Rimadyl chewable tablets taste like liver, they should be kept out of reach of your dog. Symptoms that your dog is suffering from a Rimadyl overdose include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, headache, drowsiness, seizure, panting, slowed breathing or difficulty urination.


If you know your dog needs medication for arthritis, talk to your veterinarian about your concerns. Insist on testing liver and kidney enzymes prior to treatment and request the lowest possible dose for success. Complete a blood panel and Complete Blood Count (CBC) before usage. You can also use Rimadyl only when necessary, such as a bad week, and then take a break.

Supplements have also demonstrated effectiveness in easing arthritis and hip dysplasia symptoms. The most common are glucosamine and chondrotin.

While Rimadyl can be an effective treatment for your dog's pain, remember to use it with caution and be aware of the dangers to your pet.