Human feeding chewable tablet to dog

Key takeaway

Carprofen for dogs can reduce pain and inflammation to help your pet live a happier, more comfortable life. Carprofen is an NSAID ideal for both short-term and long-term use and can relieve symptoms for all types of ailments, so your dog can start to feel better faster.

No one wants their beloved pet to be in pain, so there are several medications available for dogs that can help your animal companion manage their discomfort. Carprofen is one of those medications and is used in dogs for various reasons, including joint pain and post-surgery recovery. It’s a versatile medication that can improve your dog’s quality of life while managing their pain to keep them comfortable.

If you're interested in learning more about this prescription drug, this article will discuss what carprofen for dogs is, its uses, side effects, dosage, and safety information.

What Is Carprofen?

Carprofen is an FDA-approved medication specifically formulated to treat pain in dogs. It's not meant to treat pain in cats, birds, reptiles, or other animals. Like ibuprofen, carprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for dogs.1 It’s important to note that ibuprofen itself is not safe for dogs, but carprofen is a viable alternative.

Graphic: What is carprofen?

The only way for dogs to receive carprofen is with a prescription from their vet. Your vet will determine the proper dosage for your dog and ensure that carprofen is the appropriate medication to help reduce their pain and inflammation.

Carprofen is available in many forms, including chewable tablets, injections, and caplets.

Carprofen Uses

So, what is carprofen used for in dogs? Ultimately, carprofen is a pain relief medication that can make your dog more comfortable despite their ailment. Dogs recovering from surgery, dealing with joint pain, or suffering from other inflammatory issues can all benefit from using carprofen during the recovery process. Here are a few other uses:

Carprofen for dog uses

  • Pain Management: Carprofen is similar to ibuprofen, making it ideal for pain management and post-operative recovery.2
  • Fever Reducer: Carprofen can also be used to reduce fever in dogs.2
  • Inflammation: Carprofen is commonly prescribed to dogs with osteoarthritis as a pain reliever to reduce inflammation.

Carprofen is commonly used to control soreness and inflammation due to arthritis in dogs and other painful conditions, such as osteoarthritis, which affects the joints.3 However, carprofen can also be used short-term to help manage pain after an injury, such as a car accident or fall.

Side Effects of Carprofen

Carprofen for dogs is considered relatively safe when used as directed. However, while it’s beneficial for pain and inflammation management, it has a few potential side effects, similar to every other drug. Common side effects of carprofen include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems: Dogs taking carprofen may have digestion issues, including diarrhea, vomiting, or decreased appetite. If your dog is not eating while taking carprofen, talk to your vet immediately to ensure they get the nutrients necessary for recovery. GI side effects are typically more of a concern if your dog is taking carprofen long term.2
  • Fatigue: Dogs taking carprofen may seem lethargic or tired.
  • Neurological symptoms: Severe side effects of carprofen use in dogs include seizures, lack of coordination or balance, and loss of primary motor function.
  • Liver & kidney problems: Dogs may drink more water or urinate more frequently while taking carprofen if carprofen is negatively affecting their kidneys. Keep an eye on your dog and call your vet if they develop jaundice since it can mean the medication is affecting their liver function. Liver and kidney symptoms are rare, but they can be serious and even life-threatening.1 Your vet will likely monitor your dog’s liver for long-term use.

Most carprofen side effects are mild, but some can result in death, so it’s important to pay close attention to your dog while they’re taking carprofen or any other NSAIDs.4 Being able to recognize symptoms early on can be life-saving for your dog. Additionally, knowing the side effects can help prevent further complications that can result in permanent health issues or even death.

Carprofen Dosage for Dogs

The correct carprofen dosage for your dog will depend on their age, weight, the condition being treated, and overall health. You should talk to your vet before giving your dog carprofen, especially because you’ll need a prescription for them. Dosage may also vary depending on the brand of carprofen your vet prescribes, which can also affect the price.

Graphic: Dosage for Carprofen for Dogs

In general, the recommended dosage of carprofen is 2mg per pound. However, your vet may choose to prescribe your dog less to start and increase the dosage to ensure your dog won’t have any adverse reactions to the medication.

Is Carprofen Safe for Dogs?

Carprofen is considered relatively safe for pets, but you must follow your vet’s instructions to ensure your pet’s safety while on the drug. Your vet will run blood work tests before prescribing your dog NSAIDs to minimize adverse effects on the liver and kidneys. Carprofen can also lead to GI side effects, so if your dog experiences nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a lack of appetite, stop administering the drug and call your vet immediately.

It’s also recommended to keep an eye on your dog and monitor changes in mood. However, many pet parents see positive changes for the most part as their dogs are more comfortable moving around with reduced inflammation and less pain due to carprofen use.

Of course, some dogs should not take NSAIDs, including those that have had a negative reaction or an allergic reaction to carprofen. They should also not take carprofen with other NSAIDs or corticosteroids.3

Pet parent speaking to vet about dog’s health

It’s important to discuss your pet’s current medications with your vet to ensure they’re prescribing something that’s relatively safe for your pet. Additionally, they should know about any allergies or negative reactions your dog has had to other drugs.

Your vet will give you instructions on administering the medication to your pet. All NSAIDs approved for dogs come with an information sheet to inform you of the side effects.4 If you’re worried about any of the side effects associated with carprofen, talk to your vet to discuss possible alternatives.

Dogs can overdose on carprofen, so pet parents must follow the instructions given to them by their vets. Symptoms of an overdose typically occur in doses of 10mg per pound or more. They can cause severe pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Overdoses are serious and can be fatal, so if you believe your dog has overdosed on carprofen, take them to the nearest emergency vet.

Remember, your vet will base your dog’s carprofen dosage on a variety of factors, but especially their age and weight. Going against your vet’s instructions can be dangerous. Additionally, always keep carprofen out of your dog’s reach to ensure they can’t get into the bottle accidentally.

Carprofen Alternatives

Carprofen is one of the safest and most common NSAIDs for dogs suffering from pain and inflammation, but if your pet is allergic, they won’t be able to use it. Instead, they’ll need another type of pain reliever that can help improve their quality of life.

Before your vet prescribes carprofen to your dog, they’ll run blood tests to ensure that it will be safe for them. However, your vet will also ask you about any other drugs your dog is on and whether they’ve ever had a bad reaction to the medication. If you’re worried that NSAIDs aren’t safe for your dog, discuss alternative medications with your vet. They can help you determine the best pain and inflammation treatments for your dog.

Carprofen for Dogs: Frequently Asked Questions

What will carprofen do for my dog?

Carprofen is a common NSAID that can help fight pain and inflammation due to various illnesses and injuries. Carprofen can be an effective tool during your dog’s healing process so that they can start to feel better. To find out if carprofen is right for your dog, you’ll need to speak to a licensed veterinarian who can prescribe the medication.

Carprofen is not suitable for every dog. Dogs who have had adverse reactions to NSAIDs should not take carprofen. Instead, talk to your vet about alternatives to reduce your pet’s pain and inflammation.

Do I need a prescription for carprofen for dogs?

Carprofen requires a prescription from your veterinarian. Additionally, you should never give your pet carprofen that wasn’t prescribed to them because the dosage will vary from dog to dog. Dosage is often determined by ailment, age, and weight.

How long can my dog take carprofen?

Carprofen is typically prescribed for long and short-term use to manage pain and inflammation. How long your dog needs to take carprofen will depend on their ailment and the recommendations from your veterinarian.

Final Notes

Pain can prevent your pet from living their best life. Whether your dog suffers from osteoarthritis or pain after surgery, they’ll need help managing their pain and inflammation to heal and feel better. Carprofen is one of the safest and most effective NSAIDs for dogs that can help reduce inflammation and manage pain for various illnesses and injuries in dogs. While carprofen is generally safe, typical side effects include GI problems and fatigue. Most side effects are mild, but there can be severe symptoms, especially if your dog consumes too much.

Consult a veterinarian if you’re unsure whether carprofen is suitable for your dog. Dutch offers telemedicine for pets to help you manage your dog’s pain from the comfort of your own home. That means no more lugging your heavy, tired, irritable dog to the vet when they’re in pain. Instead, a Dutch vet can help your dog by prescribing the medication they need to improve their quality of life.

Whether your pet is suffering from arthritis or experiencing dog joint pain from aging, a vet can help. With Dutch, you can finally get the care you need for your dog without taking an anxious or scared dog to the vet for treatment. Instead, we can find the proper medication to help your dog live their best life with less pain and more comfort.

References

  1. Burke, Anna. “Rimadyl for Dogs -- Uses, Side Effects & Alternatives.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 22 June 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/rimadyl-for-dogs/.

  2. Carprofen - Vetmed.illinois.edu. https://vetmed.illinois.edu/mmitch/pdf/carprofen.pdf.

  3. “NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) Medication Guide for Animals.” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 1 Dec. 2021, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/hospitals/pharmacy/consumer-clinical-care-guidelines-animals/nsaid-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drug-medication-guide-animals.

  4. Medicine, Center for Veterinary. “What Veterinarians Should Tell Clients about Pain Control and Pets.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/resources-you/what-veterinarians-should-tell-clients-about-pain-control-and-their-pets.