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Health & Wellness

Rimadyl for dogs: usage, dosage and side effects

It’s prescribed to treat pain and inflammation

If your pup’s recent prescription for Rimadyl left you scratching your head in confusion, you’ve come to the right place. Figuring out how to get your picky eater to take their meds or spotting the potential signs of an overdose is (understandably) an overwhelming ordeal for many pet parents. 

Fear not, though, we’ve spoken with Dr. Heidi Nascimi, DVM, a veterinarian at Austin Urban Vet Center in Austin, Texas, to get the scoop on everything you need to know about Rimadyl for your dog. 

How can Rimadyl help dogs?

First things first: What exactly is Rimadyl, anyway? 

According to Dr. Nascimi, Rimadyl is a prescription brand of carprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (sometimes shortened as NSAID) that has been proven safe for dogs. Think of it as a type of dog-approved ibuprofen because, of course, actual ibuprofen should never be given to your pets.  

Rimadyl is prescribed to treat your pet’s pain and inflammation, including arthritis-induced pain, muscle soreness, swelling, lameness, back pain and even post-op surgery pain.

Rimadyl alternatives

The generic of Rimadyl is carprofen, and other brands of carprofen are Novocox, quellin, TruProfen and Vetprofen. Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are available, such as Deramaxx, Metacam, Meloxicam and Onsior. Your veterinarian will know what medication is best for your pet.

Rimadyl dosage for dogs

Rimadyl can be given to your dog on a long-term or short-term basis — your vet will know what’s best. The dosage is typically determined by your dog’s weight, although your vet might take other factors into account, such as your pet’s age, lean body mass, severity of pain and their bloodwork. 

Although it can be found in injectable forms in animal hospitals and clinical settings, Rimadyl is typically sent home with pet parents as a flavored tablet. This should come as a relief to parents of especially picky pups, although Dr. Nascimi still recommends serving the medication with a meal to prevent gastrointestinal upset. In the case that your pet is still hesitant to swallow the tablet, Dr. Nascimi suggests hiding the medication “in a treat, such as cheese, peanut butter or a pill pocket.” 

Keep in mind that your dog may mistake flavored Rimadyl for treats and attempt to eat an entire bottle, which could lead to an overdose. Dr. Nascimi warns that this could cause “serious consequences,” including kidney failure, seizures and gastrointestinal bleeds or holes.

It’s vitally important for pet parents to remember to keep Rimadyl stored in a secure area where pets or small children will not be able to access them. Rimadyl is only safe for dogs that have been prescribed the medication and is not suitable for other pets, especially cats, as this medication can be toxic. If you suspect your pet may have taken more than their prescribed dosage, contact your veterinarian and/or poison control immediately. 

Side effects of Rimadyl for dogs

Your pet might also experience some side effects even when taking the recommended dosage of Rimadyl. 

“In extremely rare cases, a pet can develop an ‘idiosyncratic reaction’ (or a reaction that’s the opposite of what is expected) to just one dose of Rimadyl and get very ill. However, this can happen with any medication and can never be predicted,” Dr. Nascimi says.

In general, side effects of Rimadyl are rare, with the most typical cases resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, blood in stool or a decreased appetite. Although Dr. Nasicmi notes that there can be more serious side effects of Rimadyl, such as kidney or liver damage, when given long-term.

In light of this, Dr. Nascimi recommends that dogs taking Rimadyl for longer periods should have their blood work checked every 6 to 12 months to monitor and decrease the chances of organ damage. 

Pet parents should also ensure that their vet is aware of all other medications their dog is taking, as Rimadyl can interact with other medications and may lead to complications. 

Rimadyl can be prescribed to dogs for a variety of reasons and, when taken correctly, can be useful in ensuring your pup’s pain is alleviated. Always make sure to speak with your vet if you have any questions about your dog’s medication or if you notice your dog exhibiting any unusual behaviors.

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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