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September 2, 2022

Everything you Need to Know About Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories for Dogs

Are Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for Humans Safe for Dogs?

If you notice your dog to be in pain, or notice an apparent difference in their behaviour (restlessness, loss of appetite, howling, over-stretching), it’s important that you don’t decide to play doctor and give them one of your nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Most of our NSAIDs can cause serious side effects in dogs, including bleeding, kidney damage, liver damage, and gastrointestinal ulceration. We humans are less sensitive to the adverse effects of NSAIDs, but with dogs, most of our NSAIDs would have to be administered at such low doses to prevent side effects. Thankfully, we now have several brands of veterinary NSAIDs made specifically for dogs, which are very effective for pain relief and generally much safer than those designed for us. Veterinary NSAIDs are commonly used to treat and control fever, acute pain, inflammation, and joint pain in dogs. They can also be used to treat a dog with arthritis (osteoarthritis) and post-operative pain. Veterinary NSAIDs  have similar negative side effects that our aspirin or ibuprofen have, but at such a low rate that in almost all canines they can be used over a long term without much risk.

FDA-Approved Anti-Inflammatory Medications for Dogs

As a dog parent, choosing the right anti-inflammatory for your dog(s) is quite important, and looking at FDA-approved NSAIDs is a good place to start.

Common FDA-approved anti-inflammatory medications for dogs include:

  • Carprofen (Rimadyl, Novox, and Vetprofen)
  • Robenacoxib (Onsior)
  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • Meloxicam (can also be used for humans to treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis)
  • Firocoxib (Equioxx and Previcox)
  • Grapiprant (Galliprant)

Each NSAID for dogs is a little different from the other. Few of these medications react differently from others. So make sure to talk to your veterinarian about choosing the right one for your dog.

What are the side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) for dogs?

Like most medications, nonsteroidal anti inflammatory for dogs, too, can have certain side effects. Some may present itself as mild symptoms and resolve soon, while others could possibly lead to complications.

Common side effects include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Red or black stools
  • Change in behaviour
  • Change in urination and drinking habits
  • Lethargy

Severe side effects may include:

  • Seizures
  • Gastrointestinal ulcer and perforation
  • Liver and kidney toxicity
  • Kidney failure

It is important for a dog parent to understand that side effects could occur after just one dose, many doses, or may never occur at all. Dogs, like us humans, react uniquely to different medications.

A rather handy and easy way to tell if your pooch is having a bad reaction to an NSAID is to remember the acronym ‘BEST.’

  • Behaviour changes
  • Eating way less than usual
  • Skin redness/ scabs
  • Tarry stool/diarrhoea/vomiting

If you spot any of the abovementioned symptoms, it is important you get your dog off the NSAID and reach out to your vet immediately.

The ideal way to minimise the risks of any adverse side effects is to screen your dog for risk factors. Before prescribing NSAIDs, your veterinarian will conduct a complete examination to determine if your dog has any contraindications (pre-existing conditions) for the drug. In some cases, your veterinarian will also order lab tests to look for preclinical disease (kidney-related issues) before they can determine if your pet is suitable to get on NSAIDs. Meanwhile, remember to ask the vet about the various examination protocols that are best for your pooch. An informed dog owner is the best defence against severe side effects from NSAIDs.

What can you do to make NSAID use safe for your dog?

  1. Seek your vet’s advice before you start your dog on NSAIDs or any other drugs
  2. Administer NSAIDs with or after a meal
  3. Follow the prescribed dosage and frequency
  4. Keep NSAIDs out of reach
  5. Take measures to prevent overdosing
  6. Monitor for side effects
  7. Get your dog re-examined by the vet frequently to monitor the effectiveness of treatment
  8. Report anything and everything to your vet

What else can you give your dog for pain relief?

Natural pain relief solutions are another way to manage your dog’s pain and discomfort. But you know the drill: always get your veterinarian’s permission before administering your dog any drug.  Natural pain relief solutions for dogs, such as joint supplements and natural oils, include glucosamine and methylsulfonylmethane, which help lessen pain, repair cartilage, improve range of motion, and reduce inflammation. Unlike most supplements, Antinol for dogs contains no mussel powder. Backed by science and trusted by Board Certified Veterinary Specialists, Antinol makes revolutionary natural supplements for dogs. It is a super potent blend of Green-Lipped Mussel oil containing over 90 essential fatty acids, including Omega-3 fatty acids, encapsulated in an orange-red capsule, which is used in Veterinary Schools and Veterinary Referral Centres around the world. In a pet supplement industry that’s usually full of myths and claims, Antinol is a brand to be trusted.

Apart from natural pain relief solutions, dog owners could also look into alternative treatments such as hot or cold therapy. However, as usual, it’s best you get your vet’s approval before choosing an appropriate therapy for your dog.