Carprofen - Safe Dog Pain Medication If Dosed and Used Correctly

There has been a huge discussion on advantages and disadvantages of carprofen used in dogs during the last decade now. You as a dog owner need to be aware of signs and symptoms of possible side effects.

Summary of Possible Side-Effects

  • Loss of appetite or cravings
  • Vomiting
  • Unusual bowel motions (diarhhea, constipation, bloody, black or tarry stools)
  • Increased water consumption
  • Increased urination , change of urine colour and smell
  • Change of frequency of urination
  • Jaundice = yellowing of gums, white in eyees or skin
  • Skin problems (itching, redness,hair loss, scabs)
  • Unusual behavior: lethargy, sleepiness or restlessness, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, convulsions
  • Change of movement: loss of balance, incoordination
(See here for an even more detailed description)


Their occurrence should alert you and make you take action.

Your vet is supposed to inform and advise you about these side effects.

Do not forget to tell your vet about your dog's symptoms and all medication she receives currently: prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, herbs, vitamins, natural remedies and flea- and worm medications.

Insist on diagnostic blood tests for the evaluation of your dog's general health status. Ask for an owner-leaflet.

Your vet will be able to determine if the usage of NSAID drugs in your dog is safe or if a different medication should be used. 



What Is Carprofen ?


Carprofen is a member of the chemical family of NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Two pharmaceutic companies (Pfizer and CEVA) do market it in the UK:

Rimadyl® (Pfizer) and Carprodyl® (CEVA).

Rimadyl is also available in the US and widely used. Rimadyl palatable tablet

Rimadyl ® comes as tablets and in an injectable form. 

Beside the "normal" white, small tablets, they developed palatable tablets in different sizes and doses, that are very much liked by dogs.

They resemble dog-treats and clients report no problems with giving them to their dogs.

This is also a reason to store these tablets in a safe place out of the reach of children and... your dog. Avoid accidental over doses.

Usually dogs are sent home with a few days supply of tablets to ensure an easy, pain controlled recovery time.

If your dog suffers from arthritic pain and inflammation, carprofen can help to keep inflammation under control and make your dog feel more comfortable.

7 Action Steps - Dealing With Bad Reactions --
Stop Drug -Call Vet Immediately


Do you suspect your dog showing the above listed signs and symptoms while she/he is on carprofen or other NSAID drugs? If yes, do not panic, but act immediately!


Step 1 :

If you recognize any of the above listed signs in your dog, stop giving carprofen immediately.


Step 2 :

Take your dog to your veterinarian for a thorough check-up. Let your vet do a full blood screen and complete blood cell count (CBC), so she or he can decide and initiate the therapy that is necessary for your dog's individual needs.


Step 3

In case your dog shows severe symptoms get an immediate appointment at your vet surgery or seek help in an emergency clinic.

Always explain that you suspect an adverse reaction to Rimadyl and insist in ruling out this possibility thoroughly by considering and comparing the side effects described on the Rimadyl drug description leaflet. It is easy to overlook or misdiagnose them.


Step 4

Call the manufacturer (in Rimadyl's case Pfizer) directly and ask your vet to call them as well for further information and advice about additional diagnostic tests and treatment options.

Pfizer US: 1-800-366-5288

UK: your vet needs to report to Pfizer UK directly.


Step 5

In the rare event of death it will be necessary to perform a post mortem necropsy. This will help to disclose the reasons of death. 

The post mortem should be done by an independent veterinarian. The manufacturers, in this case Pfizer, needs to be informed immediately. They are entitled to get some of the tissue samples.


Step 6

Write down every detail that happened before, during and after your dog's adverse reaction to the drug. Be very specific and as detailed as possible and try to get copies of all of the medical records and test results etc of your dog.


Step 7

Report and/or ask your vet to report the adverse drug reaction to:


Center of Veterinary Medicine of the FDA

phone 1-888-332-8387 or 1-888-FDA-VETS


Here is the form (link downloads a pdf-file you can print out)


Suspected Adverse Reaction Surveillance Scheme


  • Freepost KT4503

  • Veterinary Medicines Directorate

  • Woodham Lane

  • New Haw

  • Addlestone

  • KT15 3LS

phone: 01932 - 338427

Form MLA 252A 04/08 (pdf-file)
Info-Leaflet about Safe Pet Medicines: (pdf-file)




Symptoms to Watch for If Your Dog is on Carprofen Medication

The signs and symptoms are listed in order of their occurring frequency. Your dog might show only one of these symptoms or combinations of them.

  • Gastro-intestinal Symptoms:

    • loss of appetite
    • vomiting diarrhea
    • constipation
    • tarry and dark stools
    • blood in vomit
    • stomach bleeding and ulcers
    • pancreatitis

  • Liver problems:
    • loss of appetite
    • vomiting
    • jaundice (= yellowing of gums, skin or white in eyes)
    • abnormal liver enzyme levels and function tests

  • Neurologic Signs:


    • incoordination of movement
    • loss of balance
    • disorientation
    • lethargy
    • paresis
    • paralysis
    • convulsions


  • Urinary or Kidney Signs:

    • increase of water consumption
    • increased urination
    • infection of the urinary tract
    • acute renal failure
    • specific kidney problems

  • Behavioral changes:

    • lethargy
    • sedation
    • hyperactivity
    • restlessness
    • aggressive behavior

  • Blood related signs:

    • anemia (= pale gums)
    • blood clotting disorders
    • bleeding into inner cavities
    • nose bleeding

  • Skin symptoms:

    • skin rashes
    • hair loss
    • reddening of the skin
    • pustules
    • moderate to severe forms of dermatitis
    • subcutaneous bleeding, especially on abdomen

  • Hypersensitivity or immune responses:
    • facial swellings (mouth, eyelids, ears, etc)
    • hives
    • erythema

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