Why pet owners are switching to online vet care with Dutch
Prescriptions delivered free to you
Fast access to Licensed Vets over video
Unlimited video visits and follow-ups
Joint pain is fairly common in dogs, especially as they age. Fortunately, this type of pain can be treated or at least managed with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs.1 There are several FDA-approved NSAIDs for dogs and most of them are intended to treat pain associated with osteoarthritis or inflammation of soft tissues, like muscles, ligaments, or nerves.
The everyday wear and tear within joints can cause osteoarthritis in dogs, resulting in symptoms such as limping, decreased mobility (difficulty climbing stairs or standing up, etc.), stiffness, or decreased activity.2 While this condition is more common in older dogs, it can happen to dogs of any age. Always consult your vet if you notice a change in your dog's behavior or mobility.
This article will explain the uses of one NSAID in particular, called meloxicam, and how it can help dogs experiencing pain due to arthritis and joint issues or pain after surgery.
- What is Meloxicam?
- Side Effects
- Meloxicam Dosage for Dogs
- Meloxicam Safety Information
- Meloxicam Alternatives
- Final Notes
What Is Meloxicam?
Meloxicam (also known by its brand name, Metacam) is a prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used in the treatment of inflammation as well as both joint and muscle pain in dogs — typically due to canine osteoarthritis. It can also help reduce a fever, similar to the way ibuprofen works for humans. The drug blocks the activation of certain chemicals in the body that cause pain.2 This can help manage various musculoskeletal disorders and get your furry friend back to feeling more like themselves again.
Like most NSAIDs, meloxicam is available in different forms, including injectable liquid, oral tablets, and spray. A vet will be able to assess which format is best suited for your dog and will prescribe it accordingly. Meloxicam is only available as a prescription, because every dog needs a highly personalized dosage, which should only be carried out by a licensed veterinarian. A vet will also know your dog’s medical history, as well as the specific details about their breed.3
Meloxicam is used for chronic pain management in dogs and can also help reduce inflammation. Ideally, it should be administered with food to prevent stomach issues.⁷ In tablet form, meloxicam is easy to mix in with your dog’s kibble. A vet can advise you on the best way to administer the medication based on your dog’s personal preferences. Only give your dog meloxicam with a prescription from a veterinarian.
Apart from treating chronic pain, meloxicam can also be used to relieve temporary discomfort or pain after surgery. It should only be administered once a day, as it’s a strong painkiller. Meloxicam may be right for your dog if they have chronic pain, inflammation, fever, or discomfort from surgery.
Like with any medication, meloxicam can cause adverse side effects in dogs, including⁷:
- Changes in appetite
- Diarrhea, or black, tarry, or bloody stools
- Change in behavior
- Jaundice (eyes, gums)
- Change in drinking habits
- Change in urination habits
- Skin changes (redness, scabs, or scratching)
- Hair loss
- Weight loss
The most common of these side effects in dogs is gastrointestinal issues. Contact a vet right away if you notice that your dog is having seizures, any change in urination or a discoloration of the skin (often yellowing on the ear flaps).² Every dog is different, so side effects may vary depending on breed, weight, levels of anxiety, and other preexisting conditions.
Meloxicam Dosage for Dogs
Only a licensed veterinarian can accurately determine the right dose of meloxicam for your dog. Once the medication starts working, your vet may taper the dose to the smallest amount possible to reduce the chance of side effects. Meloxicam is not suitable for dogs under 5 pounds (2.3 kg), because it’s not possible to measure a precise enough dose in dogs that small.
Meloxicam Safety Information
It’s very important to administer the right dose of meloxicam as prescribed by your veterinarian. Too high a dose can lead to NSAID toxicity symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or kidney damage. Always consult a vet if you are unsure of the right dose for your dog.
It is not recommended to give meloxicam to dogs younger than 6 months of age, dogs with bleeding disorders, or pregnant/nursing dogs. Due to the increased risk of stomach ulcers, it’s best not to give this medication to dogs who are on other NSAIDs or corticosteroids. If further pain medication is needed, avoid using another NSAID, as interaction between different types can cause adverse reactions.
Sometimes, certain symptoms can indicate an allergic reaction to the medication. While most of the above-mentioned side effects are fairly common, dogs who are allergic to meloxicam may experience additional symptoms or more severe side effects. As a dog owner, it’s important to recognize symptoms of an allergic reaction when your dog is taking an NSAID medication. Be on alert for the B.E.S.T symptoms:
- B-Behavioral changes
- E- Eating less
- S- Skin redness or scabs
- T- Tarry stool, diarrhea, or vomiting
Monitor your dog after giving them the medication and seek medical help if they have any of these symptoms. If left untreated, an allergic reaction to meloxicam can lead to more severe medical issues.5
NSAIDs are one of the most common types of pain relieving drugs for dogs, but sometimes they’re not the best option for your pooch. While effective, they only target one type of pain transmitter.6 If the pain is nerve-related, then these drugs are unlikely to be helpful for your dog. Fortunately, there are many different pain medications available for pets.
Non-NSAIDs tend to target different pain transmitters or even the nervous system. Examples include: amantadine, which blocks NMDA receptors in the spinal cord, gabapentin and lyrica, which prevent the release of certain neurotransmitters, amitriptyline for treating anxiety that may arise from chronic pain, and venlafaxine, which can be helpful against neuropathic pain and osteoarthritis.⁷ Most pain medications are available as oral tablets, liquid, or powder. Consult a vet to decide which form is right for your dog.
Can you get meloxicam for dogs without a vet prescription?
No, NSAIDs like meloxicam always need to be prescribed by a vet. This is especially important to make sure that your dog gets the right dosage. Dutch makes it easy with a telemedicine for pets platform and a prescription service so all medications can be delivered right to your door.
How long does meloxicam last?
Meloxicam should start working within 1-2 hours and last for up to 24 hours. Every dog is different, so speak to your vet about when to re-administer the medication.
What are the worst side effects of meloxicam?
Serious side effects can be extreme vomiting or diarrhea, jaundice, and skin problems. Some dogs may experience allergic reactions to meloxicam, which can be even more severe. Some signs of an allergic reaction include hives, swelling of the tongue, lips or face, difficulty breathing, and seizures. Contact emergency veterinary services if your dog seems to have an allergic reaction to meloxicam.
Meloxicam and other NSAID medications are commonly used to treat chronic pain and inflammation in dogs, typically from arthritis or other muscular illnesses, but is also an effective painkiller after surgery. This medication is available as chewable tablets, liquid injection, and a spray and should only be used with a vet’s prescription.
Your vet will be able to provide the correct dose of meloxicam, as well as advise you on how best to administer the drug to your dog. It is generally recommended to give this medication with food to avoid potential stomach problems.
Side effects can occur when taking meloxicam, such as skin irritation, gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea, vomiting), lethargy, decrease in appetite, change in urination habits, and weight loss. More severe side effects include seizures, yellowing of the skin or gums (jaundice), and kidney damage. Talk to your vet if you notice serious side effects or symptoms of allergic reaction after administering meloxicam.
With Dutch you can always speak to a highly qualified vet about any concerns you may have about your pet’s health and wellbeing. Our licensed vets can help you create a customized prescription or treatment plan to keep your pet feeling happy and healthy. Get unlimited care and follow-up appointments online - from the comfort of your own home.
Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Get the Facts about Pain Relievers for Pets.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/get-facts-about-pain-relievers-pets#Dogs.
“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.
“Using Meloxicam for Dogs - Top Things to Know.” Bulldogology Pet Solutions, 22 May 2021, https://www.bulldogology.net/using-meloxicam-for-dogs-top-things-to-know/.
“The Use of Meloxicam: Canine Care.” Veterinary Specialist Services | Gold Coast & Brisbane, Veterinary Specialist Services , https://www.vss.net.au/videos/the-use-of-meloxicam.html.
Coston, Dr. Zach. “Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory for Dogs: What Should You Know?” Dutch, Dutch, 17 Mar. 2022, https://www.dutch.com/blogs/dogs/anti-inflammatory-for-dogs.
“What Are Some Other Oral Pain Medications That Will Help My Dog?” Canine Arthritis Resources and Education, 31 Oct. 2019, https://caninearthritis.org/article/what-are-some-other-oral-pain-medications-that-will-help-my-dog/.
“METACAM® (Meloxicam Oral Suspension) 1.5 Mg/Ml.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Apr. 2022, https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/fda/fdaDrugXsl.cfm?setid=c27c35d7-07e1-47d4-97cd-ed1fb17750ce&type=display.