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Health & Wellness

Metacam for dogs: use and benefits

You shouldn’t give your dog Metacam if they have certain health issues.

As our pets grow up, their joints begin to wear and tear, which can lead to osteoarthritis. And while this might sound uncomfortable, you'll be happy to know that certain medications, like Metacam, help to reduce pain, inflammation and the effects of arthritis in dogs. 

Your vet needs to prescribe this medication — but if some of the details about it get lost in the shuffle between making sure your dog is comfortable, scheduling follow-up vet appointments and potentially taking care of other animals, don't stress. Keep reading to learn vet-recommended serving tips and common side effects of Metacam.

What’s Metacam for dogs?

Metacam is a specific brand name for the drug meloxicam. “Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prescribed to reduce pain, inflammation and osteoarthritis in dogs,” Dr. Elizabeth Devitt, DVM, a general practice veterinarian and veterinary consultant for Fetch, says. When prescribed by a veterinarian to treat a covered condition, Fetch has you covered on medications. See more on what pet insurance covers when you enroll with Fetch.

Metacam dosage for dogs

If your veterinarian prescribes your pup Metacam — whether in liquid or tablet form — you should plan to give it to them once a day, usually in food (especially if they weigh less than 10 pounds). However, if it's given as an injectable, your veterinarian will have to administer it.

"The recommended dosage starts with a 'loading dose' of 0.09 milligrams per pound of your dog's body weight on the first day. Then the dosage is reduced to 0.045 milligrams per pound once daily after that," Dr. Devitt says.

Metacam isn't typically given to dogs younger than 6 months of age, those with pre-existing kidney, liver or gastrointestinal health issues, or pregnant or lactating pups.

How long do dogs need to take Metacam?

Dosage and timelines for using Metacam depend on your dog and the ailment it’s being used to help treat. According to Dr. Devitt, it can also be prescribed for long-term use, “but your veterinarian will typically want to check your dog’s liver and kidney markers in blood tests within the first 2 weeks and periodically after that.”

If your pup took Metacam’s oral version, you could expect that they’ll start feeling its effects within 4 to 8 hours. And the injection works even quicker, usually around 2 and a half hours, Dr. Devitt explains.

RELATED: If your dog has osteoarthritis, ask your vet about Deramaxx

What are Metacam’s side effects?

While some medications are often praised for their benefits, they can have potential side effects, too. NSAIDs can impact a dog’s stomach, intestinal tract, kidneys and liver, so your veterinarian will likely want to monitor those areas (especially if the medication has been prescribed for a long period). 

“If your dog shows any signs of vomiting, diarrhea or appetite loss, this medication should immediately be discontinued, and you should call your veterinarian,” Dr. Devitt adds. “Be sure to report any other changes in your dog, too.”

Metacam shouldn’t be given with other NSAIDs, corticosteroids such as prednisone, or diuretics because the combination can potentially increase the side effects. 

“Additionally, Metacam can reduce platelet function, which is blood clotting, so there may be an increased risk with other medications that reduce blood pressure, reduce blood clotting or other medications that have gastrointestinal ulceration or kidney dysfunction risks.”

Caution should be taken when combining Metacam (or any NSAID) with certain antibiotics, as the mix can result in unsafe medication levels in the bloodstream. Always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any additional medications.

Are there Metacam alternatives, and if so, are they as effective?

Metacam is one meloxicam brand name, so you may come across other brand names for the same drug. However, Meloxicam is just one of several NSAIDs that can be used to reduce pain, inflammation or osteoarthritis in dogs — ask your vet if you are interested in exploring more options.

You could also talk to your veterinarian about more holistic treatment options like acupuncture, cold laser therapy or specific supplements, Dr. Devitt says. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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