Rimadyl for Dogs


If your dog is suffering from joint pain or recovering from surgery, your veterinarian may suggest you give your pet a drug called Rimadyl to treat the animal's pain.

While this drug is commonly used in dogs, owners often worry about its safety and whether or not it is right for their pets. The best way to determine if this is a good choice for your dog is to educate yourself about the drug and talk with your veterinarian about the specific benefits and risks of giving Rimadyl to your pet.

The topics below will help you understand more about the drug and help you formulate specific questions to ask your veterinarian.

What Is Rimadyl?

Rimadyl is the brand name of the drug carprofen. In the United States, this nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, commonly referred to as an NSAID, is approved for use in dogs to treat inflammation and pain.

Rimadyl is commonly used as an arthritis treatment for dogs. The drug helps relieve the inflammation and discomfort associated with this degenerative condition and can significantly improve an afflicted dog's quality of life.

Carprofen for dogs is also approved by the FDA to treat pain caused by surgeries such as spays, other abdominal surgeries and orthopedic repairs. For surgical pain, veterinarians often administer carprofen at the time of surgery to prevent pain and send home caplets or tablets to control pain during the recovery period.​

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Rimadyl?​

Rimadyl side effects range from minor to severe. As with most NSAIDs, the most common side effects associated with Rimadyl use include gastrointestinal, liver and kidney issues. Some potential signs that your dog could be experiencing Rimadyl side effects include the following:

  • Vomiting.​
  • Diarrhea.
  • Stools that are black or contain blood.
  • Appetite change.
  • Increase or decrease in activity level.
  • Yellowing of the skin, gums or eyes.
  • Increased thirst.
  • Increased or decreased urination.
  • Skin irritation or itching.
  • Incoordination.
  • Seizures.

Stop use and consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is experiencing adverse effects from Rimadyl use.

What Is the Usual Dosage of Rimadyl for Dogs?

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the daily recommended Rimadyl dosage for dogs is about 4.4 milligrams per kilogram. This works out to a dose of 2 milligrams per pound per day. In some cases, veterinarians prefer to split the dose and give 1 milligram per pound twice a day.

How Is Rimadyl Administered?

Owners administer Rimadyl by giving their dogs caplets or flavored chewable tablets. Both the tablets and caplets are scored to make dosing easier. The oral medication can be given with or without food, but dogs on Rimadyl must have continuous access to fresh water.

In addition to oral formulations, veterinarians have the option of using injectable Rimadyl for anesthetized animals or those that cannot receive oral medication.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Overdoses?

If you accidentally give too much Rimadyl or your dog gets into the package, contact your veterinarian, the local emergency clinic or a veterinary poison control center immediately. A Rimadyl overdose can be a life-threatening emergency, and prompt treatment can prevent serious complications.

While dogs can overdose on any form of carprofen, owners who use flavored tablets need to be especially careful about storing the medication. These tablets are designed to be palatable to dogs, so pets are often quite crafty in gaining access to them. If your dog does gain access, it can quickly ingest a toxic dose.

Why Does Your Dog Need Blood Monitoring While on Rimadyl?

It is important to make sure your dog does not have underlying liver or kidney disease before administering Rimadyl. When Rimadyl is given for surgical pain, a pre-anesthetic blood panel is usually sufficient to determine whether or not it is safe to use the drug.

Dogs taking Rimadyl for extended periods of time, however, will need to be tested before starting the drug and at regular intervals during therapy to make sure no problems have developed.

Often, veterinarians recommend blood work every six months, but the interval can vary depending on the health status of the specific patient being treated.

Is It Safe to Give Rimadyl With Other Drugs?

The label advises not giving Rimadyl at the same time as other NSAIDs, including aspirin, etodolac, deracoxib, meloxicam, firocoxib and others, or corticosteroids, such as prednisone or dexamethasone.

In fact, most veterinarians advise waiting several days after discontinuing a particular NSAID before starting treatment with a different NSAID or steroid. This waiting period may help to minimize the risk of drug interactions.

You should also make sure to discuss all other medications, including supplements, with your veterinarian before starting your dog on Rimadyl.

Certain medications, including those that increase bleeding risk, those that increase the risk of dehydration, those that tax the liver and others, may be contraindicated or may require dose adjustments or additional monitoring when used with Rimadyl.

Is Rimadyl Safe for All Dogs?

Rimadyl is usually safe when used appropriately, but dogs that have had allergic reactions to carprofen or other NSAIDs in the past should not receive the drug.

Veterinarians should also avoid or limit use of the drug in dogs with liver damage, kidney disease, bleeding disorders, gastrointestinal ulcers and other conditions.

Because of the lack of information about the risks of Rimadyl use in pregnant or lactating bitches, use of the drug in these animals should also be avoided if possible.