Dog lovers hate to see their pups in pain

Speak to any dog lover, and they will tell you that the bond they share with their dog may actually be stronger than that which they share with other human beings. After all, those slobby, wet-nosed canines, which will greet you with an almost human grin, also go by the name 'man's best friend.' It can, therefore, be challenging to see your beloved pooch in any kind of pain.

Rimadyl-for-dogsFortunately, there are veterinary prescriptions like Rimadyl to fight chronic diseases. Like any other medicine, it may have side effects, and it is, therefore, essential that you have a good understanding of it before you administer it to your dog. You may, for example, find that in some cases, it might be effective to tackle one symptom very well. Unfortunately, your dog may react negatively to the medicine. The result is further complications for you and your dog, thus requiring alternative medications or supplements.

Do your research

We understand the importance of proper research, which is why our article below is a must-read for you before you give your dog Rimadyl.

We will look into the drug by going back to the beginning and focus on some of the controversial aspects of this product. We will also explore the potential long-term side effects that you can expect. Most importantly, we will recommend some products that may be safer and effective as well.

Rimadyl, Everything You Need To Know

Our article below will go into an in-depth analysis of Rimadyl. Some of the areas include:-

Rimadyl; what is it
A brief history and controversies surrounding Rimadyl
Common applications for Rimadyl
Rimadyl dosage
Side effects of Rimadyl
Safe and effective alternatives for Rimadyl

Rimadyl, What Is It?

Rimadyl also goes by the brand name carprofen. It is an analgesic that belongs to the drug classification non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)¹. It is excellent for the management of pain in dogs and is a safer alternative to human NSAID such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

Here is what you may not know; initially Rimadyl was not for veterinary use but rather it was for pain management in human beings for about ten years within the years 1985 to 1995. Eventually, the researchers tested it on dogs and came up with positive results, leading to its withdrawal from human treatment.

A brief history and controversies surrounding Rimadyl

Aggressive marketing of a Rimadyl as an analgesic for dogs began in the 1990s. In the initial stages, it was a ‘wonder drug,' and the marketing language was full of praise for the powers of the medicine.

Advertising showed animals that were initially unable to move, get back their motion after using Rimadyl. It, therefore, goes without saying that many dog owners sought relief for different elements in their dogs from the prescription drug. Arthritic and aging dogs were some of the major beneficiaries of this wonder drug.

The bad news

However, before long, they were some reports about adverse gastrointestinal side effects. The companies stopped advertising the drug when testimonials from the dog owners went from positive to negative.

There were reports of severe gastrointestinal side-effects such as stomach rupture, seizures, vomiting, among others. There were even reports of deaths among the animals. Within a short time, cries gravitated towards a demand for action. Dog owners were emphatic for the withdrawal of the drug, and no vet should prescribe it. The pleas fell on deaf ears, and the production of the drug continued. However, you would be hard-pressed to find any advertisements extolling the virtues of the drug.

Now, here is the interesting thing about the controversy. The dog owner’s main gripe was not that the drug had side effects; rather, the companies should have given them a warning that there could be some.

Some dogs reacted positively

Interestingly, some dogs were able to take the medicine without any noticeable adverse reactions. It could explain why you will still find some vets prescribing Rimadyl despite its chequered history.

If statistics are proof of anything, the drug is still very popular. In the US alone, over 4 million dogs have had Rimadyl as part of their pain management drugs. We can only postulate that the numbers are much more outside of the US.

Common applications for Rimadyl

The most basic use of Rimadyl is pain management. Similar to some glucosamine for dogs supplements, it has anti-inflammatory properties that make it especially useful for hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and post-surgery recovery.

Post-surgery recovery

Veterinarian examining German Shepherd

If you have ever had an operation, you know that the post-surgery period is fraught with pain. It is, therefore, unlikely that your surgeon will send you home without prescribing some pain killers. The same goes for your furry friend; in the case that your dog undergo surgery, the Vet will most likely prescribe pain management drugs such as Rimadyl. The prescription will only last as long as the post-surgery pain is present.

Rimadyl dosage

Several factors will determine the dosage the Vet will prescribe. These include:-

  • Size of your dog
  • How much your dog weighs
  • How severe the condition is

The medicine comes in chewable tablet or capsule form. You’ll find it in 25 milligrams, 75 milligrams or 100 milligrams. The dog will generally take the dosage once or twice a day, as determined by the Vet. You must stick to the recommended dosage even if you see that your dog seems to be in a lot of pain. You do not want to put your dog's life at risk because you took matters into your own hands, and decided to increase the dosage.

Side Effects of Rimadyl

As we have already stated above, some dogs may experience adverse side effects, while others will not. You must be mindful of the impact when treating a dog to avoid any issues that may arise out of taking pain medication. If your dog is one of the truly unlucky ones, you can expect the following reactions.


While vomiting is a regular occurrence in dogs, sometimes it heralds more severe issues. Be especially observant of how your dog reacts after taking the medicine. If every time it takes a dosage, it vomits, then you know there is a problem.

Muscle Cramps

You get home, and your dog is not waiting for you at the door, happily wagging its tail. You notice it is limping and seems to prefer not to move at all. It could be a sign that it is experiencing pain when moving around due to muscle cramps.


You will know your dog is having a seizure when:-

  • It starts to convulse
  • It collapses
  • The legs begin to jerk
  • The body stiffens
  • Your dog starts to drool excessively
  • Foam starts to come from the mouth

Understandably you will panic because at this point it look like your dog is about to die. Stay calm and clear the area of anything that may harm your dog.

Speak to the dog gently and reassuringly. Make sure the room is cool to prevent the dog from overheating. Dipping its paws in cold water will also help maintain the body temperature. If the seizure continues unabated for more than 5 minutes, you need to take your dog to the Vet asap. Multiple seizures can occur when the dog is unconscious, and breathing can become difficult.

Bowel Movement Issues

While it may not be an exciting job, you must keep an eye on your dog’s bowel movements. You will have to observe the droppings to determine whether there is any diarrhea or constipation. You have Insider knowledge of how your dog excretes, and it will be easy for you to tell if there is any change once it takes the medicine. Signs of trouble include:-

  • An inability to poop
  • Bloody stool
  • Black, tarry watery stool

It is essential to note that some of the digestive issues could be due to a change in diet. If you have not changed what you've been feeding your dog, then it may be time to consult your Vet.

It is important to note that with bowel movement issues comes abdominal pain. It is also possible that the pain may occur on its own. Watch out for the following symptoms

  • The dog prefers to stay in a fetal position
  • It may cover its stomach protectively using its paws
  • It could be having trouble breathing
  • A distended stomach
  • The dog may cry or whimper


By their very nature, dogs are bundles of energy. With time they may slow down a little as they grow old. However, you may notice that your dog is lethargic, gets tired quickly and is generally weak. There could be a decline in physical movement, and no matter how much you try to get its interest, it doesn't respond. The lethargy could be a sign that the drug is interfering with the overall system of your dog.

Mouth sores

Detecting mouth sores in your dog will require that you are a bit observant. Watch out for:-

  • Bleeding gums
  • Blood in saliva
  • Difficulty when eating
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pungent breath
  • Inflamed gums
  • Lesions or open sores

Weight gain and fluid retention

One interesting side effect of Rimadyl is that your dog might gain weight. If you cannot attribute the weight gain to a change in feeding habits, it may be the drug interacting negatively with the dog’s system.


You know the results of not exposing your baby to sunlight. His or her skin, gums, or eyes may turn yellow, indicating the onset of jaundice. Unfortunately, some dogs may develop the condition due to the medication.

Kidney and Liver Problems

Fortunately, kidney and liver problems are rare, but they may happen. Unfortunately, it may be challenging to detect when they are starting to malfunction. What makes it especially tricky is that some of the symptoms are indicative of other issues. Such include jaundice, vomiting, lethargy, constipation, increased thirst, loss of appetite accompanied by weight loss, among others. Seek help immediately you notice your dog does not seem to be recovering from whatever appears to be ailing it.

Safe and Effective Alternatives for Rimadyl

veterinarian looking at dog's xray

After going through the side effects we have highlighted above, you may be thinking that Rimadyl may not be the drug for your dog. You, however, realize that you still need a way to manage pain, especially if your dog has hip dysplasia, arthritis, or is recovering from surgery. Before you take any drastic action, talk to your Vet. You may also want to consider safe and effective alternatives to using pain management medicines. Here are some things you can do:-

It Starts At Home

Think about the comfort of your dog when you're in the home. Arrange your furniture in a way that your dog can easily navigate without bumping into furniture. Include a ramp so that it can easily access the house without putting unnecessary weight on its joints.

Your Dog's Diet Is Critical

Think of what you eat daily and apply it to your dog. You may find it strange, but research indicates that feeding a dog a healthy amount of animal protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, is highly beneficial. Do not add anything to their diet without taking the time to see whether it agrees with them. Some dogs may, for example, react negatively to processed foods and grains such as wheat, corn, or soy.

Incorporate Supplements

A healthy diet is the first crucial step to a healthy dog. But, like human beings, the more they age, the more help they may require for healthy joints and bones. Incorporate supplements into their diet. Look for those with Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine HCL, turmeric, chondroitin sulfate, and MSM. You should also check out our advanced hip and joint glucosamine treats that are not only delicious but also very nourishing.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist that specializes in dogs will have specific exercises, which may help with pain management. Such include underwater activities and stretches, with a specific aim of improving mobility.

Final Thoughts

In our article, we have looked at Rimadyl in detail. We have highlighted the good and the bad, and given you recommendations on what you can do with regards to pain management. No two dogs are alike, and you cannot entirely predict how each dog will react to the drug. Seek medical advice before putting your dog on any kind of treatment. And if you do, keep a close eye so that you arrest any adverse side effect in good time.

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    Jason M. Collins

    Hi. I'm Jason

    As a dog owner myself I've always been obsessed with ways to keep my loyal friends healthy and happy. The truth is, we can do so much more for our dogs if we have the right information, this is what motivates me to keep writing.

    I hope you enjoyed this article.