Is Carprofen (Rimadyl) Safe for Dogs?

What is Carprofen?

Carprofen is a drug advised for animals only. It is available in the form of tablets and is a non-steroidal drug prescribed for oral usage only. It is anti-inflammatory (NSAID). This drug is a mixture of naproxen, ketoprofen, and ibuprofen. The chemical formula for Carprofen is C15H12ClNO2. The molecular weight of Carprofen is 273.72. It is white and crystalline.

Carprofen is also known as Rimadyl, which is one of its brand names. The purpose of NSAID drugs is to reduce the pain and cause as minimum side effects as possible. These are a substitute for steroids and are a better option since prolonged use of steroids can cause a lot of unwanted side-effects.

Is Carprofen Safe for Dogs?

In relation to dogs, Carprofen is the safest drug. It is always advised that medicines such as Rimadyl are given to pets instead of medicines that are usually used by humans as painkillers. This is because medicines used for human consumption can have severe consequences in the case of dogs. Thus, this drug is available in three forms, and you can use whichever form suits your dog. It is available in the type of injections, chewable tablets, and caplets. It would help if you took into consideration the opinion of your vet before using the medications and the form in which it should be given.

Why is Carprofen Prescribed?

The main reason vets prescribe Rimadyl to dogs is because either your dog is going through chronic pain canine arthritis. Rimadyl is one of the chronic pain management strategies for such conditions. It is also possible that your vet prescribed your dog Carprofen after surgery to make sure the pain can subside.

You are describing canine arthritis further. It is a condition where your dog might get tired quickly and have difficulty getting up. Usually, this is known as osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. It is known to affect one out of five dogs in the US.

How can Carprofen Help Your Dog?

Rimadyl can help your dog in three ways. It can help treat inflammation as it is an anti-inflammatory drug. It can also help to reduce fever and pain. It mainly acts as a painkiller, but these qualities possessed by Rimadyl make it ideal for treating canine arthritis.

In relation to surgery, this drug is prescribed for the same reason. There are chances of inflammation after surgery in dogs, and thus, this drug helps to combat that.

Side Effects of Carprofen

side effects of carprofen for dogs

Since NSAIDs are known to work with minimum side-effects, it does not mean that those side effects are non-existent. Rimadyl also has some side-effects, and it is better to know them in order to spot them quickly and take medical advice as early as possible. This will allow your pet dog and you to suffer minimum pocket and health damage, respectively.

GI Tract

The main side effect of Rimadyl is concentrated upon the GI tract of the dog. These side-effects only come to surface with prolonged use of this drug. GI tract stands for the gastrointestinal tract. It is related to the digestive system where the food is being broken down and processed to get energy.

Since the side-effects are related to the gastrointestinal (GI) Tract, the visible side-effects can include vomiting, ulcers, and diarrhea. There are also some rare side-effects of Rimadyl, which impact the liver and the kidneys. Even though these side-effects are rare, these are usually serious.

  1. Vomiting
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Ulcer

So, while prescribing these drugs, the vets usually advise regular check-ups to spot any problems at an early stage. Apart from the regular medical examination of your dog, there are many ways you can try to understand the side-effects even before they become visible.

Here are some symptoms which can help you to spot these side-effects in the early stages.

Symptoms to Spot Side-Effects

  1. Appetite Changes
  2. Water Intake Changes
  3. Activity Time Changes
  4. Aggressive Behavior
  5. Change in frequency/color/smell of stool
  6. Scabbing
  7. Redness
  8. Jaundice
  9. Itching
  10. Seizures

There are chances that your dog might suddenly have a change in appetite or have a change in water intake (which can be either increased or decreased). The color of the stool might change to black and might be tarry or bloody. There are also know side-effects of the drug on the behavior of the dog, such as their active time might increase or decrease. You might see changes in their ability to coordinate different body parts together. There might even be a possibility of increased anger/aggression.

Since the side effects are related to the digestive system, there might be urinary symptoms such as a change in the frequency/color/smell.

Some symptoms can be spotted by examining the mouth of your dog. If there are side-effects on the roll, there is a possibility of jaundice. You can spot this by checking the gums for a yellowish pattern or the skin and whites of eyes for yellowness. The skin symptoms might include scabbing, redness, or itching.

In extreme cases, there might be seizures as well.

There are many pros and cons to Rimadyl. The choice depends entirely on the owner because, in both cases, the dog might suffer.

Pros of Carprofen

Pros of Carprofen for dogs

Many of the benefits of using Carprofen have already been explained in the above paragraphs. The significant benefits are:

Low Adverse Gastrointestinal Reactions

Other medicines tend to have an adverse impact on the GI tract of the dogs. These medicines include ibuprofen, naproxen, etc. which are generally used as painkillers for humans. But Carprofen is made from a mixture of all the medicines, and thus, it has less impact on the GI tract of the dogs as compared to the other human medicines.

Convenient twice-a-day dosage

In the case of dogs, many medicines can’t be prescribed for a twice-a-day dosage, but this is not the case with Carprofen. This drug has minimal side-effects and can also be prescribed for a twice-a-day dosage by vets. This can be helpful in case your dog experiences severe pain and the effects of the dosage from the morning subside.

It is also possible because of the fact that it does not have an adverse impact on the GI tract of dogs. This enables prolonged use of Carprofen for them.

Relief from Pain

The pros of this drug include relief from pain after surgery or inflammation during canine arthritis. It is a painkiller for dogs like ibuprofen is a pain killer for humans. This drug is usually prescribed after surgery when there are chances of pain arising in the affected area.

Also, at times due to the weakening of bones, there are chances that the dog is not able to get up and experiences pain in the bones. This condition is known as canine arthritis, as explained earlier. In this case, Carprofen can help the dog to manage the chronic pain arising out of this disease.

Reduces Inflammation

This is a Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Thus, one of its main impacts is on pain, and another is on the inflammation. After surgery, there are chances that the dog experiences inflammation in the affected area, and that is where Carprofen comes into play. It allows for reducing inflammation.

It is also non-steroidal, and thus, it has lower side-effects in the long run as compared to steroids.

Reduces Fever

Carprofen is also known to reduce fever, which makes it ideal for the treatment of canine arthritis. It can reduce pain, inflammation, and fever altogether. Thus, this one drug can combat three problems with minimum side effects, which makes it safer than the other medicines available for treatment.

Cons of Carprofen

Carprofen might be the safest drug available, but there are many chances where there might be side-effects. Here are some disadvantages of Carprofen.

Impact on Stomach

Even though it is known to have less adverse effects on the GI tract of dogs, there are chances of side-effects, and the areas impacted by this drug would mainly be the digestive system. There are devastating stories where the dog had been on Carprofen for around two weeks and died because of internal bleeding due to stomach rupture.

These are extreme cases, and the symptoms of these side-effects are listed above, so it is advised to look for the symptoms and get the dog go through medical check-up as soon as possible if you spot any of the symptoms.

Impact on the Digestive System

The digestive system can be impacted to a great extent by over usage of Carprofen. The dog might experience diarrhea or bloody stool. You might also witness a change in the texture of the stool, such as it might be tarry. The frequency and color of the stool might change.

The symptoms of side-effects of Carprofen can also be spotted with urinary changes such as a change in frequency/color/smell. The dog might also show a change in appetite patterns such as increased intake of food or decreased intake of food. This can also be the case with water intake, and thus, it is always beneficial to be on the look-out for such symptoms when your dog is on Carprofen.

Effect on Liver

In extreme cases, the dog might get liver problems such as liver cancer, which can be a side-effect of Carprofen.

In some cases the kidneys of dogs are also impacted.

Alternatives of Carprofen for Dogs

Alternatives of Carprofen for dogs

Earlier, human medicines were used to treat dogs. These used to have an adverse impact on their health and, in extreme cases, also resulted in deaths. Later on, new drugs came into existence. One of them was Carprofen, which is also known as Rimadyl.

Even though it is a safer drug, the chances of side-effects scare the owners for its usage. There are many alternatives to Rimadyl available in the market, such as Derramax, Metacam, Previcox, and Zubrin.

It is suggested that you seek medical consultation from a vet before you choose to administer any of the above medicines to your dog. It is also suggested that you take proper measures such as regular blood check-ups in case you are using the drug for an extended period of time.


To conclude, Carprofen or Rimadyl is the safest drug available for dogs. One should always look for a vet’s prescription before administrating any drug to their pet dogs because the medicines used for humans can have a severe impact on dogs and are not suitable for their bodies.

Usually, Carprofen is prescribed after a surgery or during canine arthritis. It helps in subsiding the pain and reducing inflammation as it is a Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Even though it is the safest drug available, there are chances of side-effects, and to make sure that you can spot these in early stages, you must look out for symptoms as suggested above.



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