Rimadyl For Dogs: Uses & Side Effects

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As dogs age, they’re more prone to painful disorders, including dog arthritis and joint problems. While these illnesses are not life-threatening, they can make it difficult for your dog to enjoy their favorite activities, ultimately impacting their quality of life. No pet parent wants their dog to experience pain, and many medications are available for dogs to help relieve discomfort. Rimadyl is often used to manage osteoarthritis and other joint disorders in dogs, improving their quality of life even as they age. But what is Rimadyl for dogs? 

Keep reading to learn more about Rimadyl, including its uses and side effects, to help you determine whether it’s a good option for your dog. 

What Is Rimadyl?

Rimadyl is the brand name for carprofen, a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that treats pain in dogs. It’s most commonly used as a joint pain and arthritis treatment to reduce inflammation with fewer side effects than steroids and other drugs.1 While Rimadyl is safe for dogs, other NSAIDs are not safe for pets and can cause serious side effects. For example, ibuprofen and aspirin are not safe for dogs, so Rimadyl is often the most prescribed anti-inflammatory and pain relief drug prescribed to dogs.1

Uses for rimadyl

What Is Rimadyl Used For In Dogs?

Rimadyl for dogs is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to manage pain and inflammation associated with pain associated with osteoarthritis and orthopedic surgery, ultimately improving mobility.2 However, it can also be used to treat other inflammatory issues. 

The typical recommended Rimadyl dosage for dogs is 4.4mg/kg per day or divided every 12 hours.2 Since a vet must prescribe Rimadyl, your veterinarian will provide instructions on the correct dosage for dogs and how often it should be taken. It’s important to never give your dog Rimadyl unless it has been prescribed to them for a specific ailment. Therefore, if your dog has Rimadyl from a surgery they had a few years ago, you should not give it to them again when they hurt themselves jumping off the couch. 

Other uses of Rimadyl for dogs include:

  • Treating inflammation
  • Fever reduction
  • Pain reduction1

The most common uses of Rimadyl for dogs are treating arthritis and joint issues and post-operative pain management. However, it can also treat fever in dogs and other painful conditions. Since Rimadyl treats inflammation, often the cause of pain, it’s highly effective at reducing joint pain. In addition, it’s a good long-term treatment option for senior pets because it’s tolerated well by most patients.2 Rimadyl can also treat pain and inflammation from other causes, such as accidents and injuries. 

Typical recommended dosage

Rimadyl Dosages

The right dosage of Rimadyl for dogs depends on a dog’s weight, health, and condition being managed with the medication. Always talk to your vet before giving your dog Rimadyl because overdoses can be fatal. Meanwhile, doses that are too small for your dog won’t reduce pain or inflammation. The recommended Rimadyl dosage for dogs is 4.4 mg/kg of weight, which translates to roughly 2 mg per pound. However, it’s up to your vet to determine how much to give your dog. If your dog has never had Rimadyl before, your vet may suggest starting them on a smaller dose and monitoring them to ensure no adverse reactions. If your pet responds well to Rimadyl, they will gradually increase the dosage. 

Rimadyl is available in several forms, including caplets, chewable tablets, and injections.1 However, your vet will determine which is best for your dog based on their particular needs and ailment. Most dogs will be given a chewable or caplet with a treat or wrapped in cheese. 

How Long Does Rimadyl Take To Work? 

Rimadyl response varies by dog, but most dogs see improvement in a few days. However, you should never stop your dog’s medication without talking to a vet because their pain and inflammation may return. With continuous, daily treatment, Rimadyl can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life when suffering from joint pain.3

In dogs, the oral bioavailability of Rimadyl is 90%, and plasma concentrations peak within two or three hours after receiving their medication.2 This, paired with the elimination half-life of around eight hours, means that Rimadyl can start taking effect almost immediately, allowing your dog to get relief from pain as soon as possible.2

Side effects of rimadyl

Side Effects Of Rimadyl

While Rimadyl is considered safe for pets, it can have serious side effects you should be aware of. Monitoring your pet after their first few days of being on the medication will ensure they don’t experience any adverse side effects that can harm their health. The most common side effects are GI-related, with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.1 

However, long-term use may cause further complications. While liver and kidney side effects are rare, they can be serious if they happen. If your dog is on Rimadyl long-term, your vet will suggest regular blood tests.1

More serious Rimadyl for dogs side effects of may include:

  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Yellowing of eyes and skin
  • Severe lethargy
  • Changes in skin
  • Lack of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Behavioral changes1

You should always monitor your pet when they’re on medication, and if they start experiencing side effects, contact your vet as soon as possible. Adverse reactions can be serious and life-threatening, so your vet will want to treat them and change their medication when possible.1

It’s also important to note that Rimadyl shouldn’t be given with steroids or other NSAIDs. If your dog is currently on any medication, you should notify your vet before giving them Rimadyl, as it may affect your pet’s treatment plan. 

Are There Alternatives To Rimadyl?

While Rimadyl is considered safe for dogs, it can cause serious side effects. Pet parents who are worried about these side effects might look for alternatives to prevent an adverse reaction. In addition, if your pet has had an adverse reaction to NSAIDs in the past, your vet may use alternative medication to treat your dog’s pain. In addition, your vet will run blood tests to ensure Rimadyl is safe for your pet, and you should inform them about any other medications or supplements your pet uses to prevent drug interactions. 

Alternatives to Rimadyl for dogs include: 

  • Other NSAIDs: Some dogs can have reactions to certain NSAIDs but not others. Every dog reacts differently to medication. All NSAIDs offer similar benefits and can be used to treat joint pain and post-operative inflammation. In addition, the potential side effects are the same, but your dog may have a reaction to Rimadyl and not other NSAIDs. 
  • Joint supplements: Dogs suffering from osteoarthritis may benefit from joint supplements that reduce inflammation and improve mobility. Common joint supplements used for senior dogs with joint pain include glucosamine and chondroitin, which work by reducing inflammation and increasing water retention in the cartilage to cushion the joints.4
  • Other treatments: Some vets might choose to treat dog joint pain with holistic treatments, such as acupuncture, depending on your dog’s pain. Other treatments may include cold laser therapy and physiotherapy.4

If you’re worried about the possible side effects of Rimadyl for dogs, talk to your vet about alternatives you can use to ensure your dog’s quality of life and overall health. 

FAQs

What does Rimadyl do for dogs?

Rimadyl is prescribed to dogs for joint conditions and post-operative pain management. Rimadyl is a type of NSAID that fights inflammation and reduces pain associated with various illnesses and injuries. It can be used for joint diseases or short-term injuries. Rimadyl is a prescription medication, so to determine whether it’s right for your dog, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with your vet. Of course, Rimadyl isn’t a solution for every pet suffering from pain, and some dogs should not take Rimadyl. 

Is Rimadyl a strong painkiller for dogs?

Rimadyl is a strong pain killer for dogs designed to fight inflammation and reduce pain. Since inflammation is often the cause of pain in dogs with arthritis and after surgery, it can effectively reduce the inflammation that causes pain. Rimadyl is effective and often only takes one to three hours to begin providing your dog with relief. However, dogs with mobility issues may need to be on medication for several days before they start showing signs of improvement. 

Rimadyl is a pain reliever; it can reduce inflammation and pain but cannot cure your dog’s ailments. If you stop the medication, your dog’s pain may return, depending on the cause. For example, dogs with arthritis need long-term treatment while dogs who recently had surgery will only use Rimadyl in the short term. 

Should Rimadyl be given in the morning or evening? How often?

When and how often Rimadyl should be given to your dog depends on the instructions provided by your vet. Some vets may recommend a single dosage in the morning, while others will break it into morning and night dosages, depending on your dog’s needs and the type of illness being treated. Both options are effective at reducing pain and inflammation, but it’s up to your vet how they want to do it. Since Rimadyl can wear off throughout the day, they may want to divide the dose into two to get coverage for the entire day and ensure your dog has pain relief at night as well as during the day. 

Middle aged woman with gray hair cuddling her Golden Retriever

Final Notes

Pain can greatly reduce your dog’s quality of life. Joint pain can prevent your dog from doing all the activities they enjoy, such as going on walks, playing outside, or even sleeping in their favorite spots on the bed and couch. Rimadyl is an effective treatment for joint pain and inflammation, especially in senior dogs and those who recently underwent surgery. However, Rimadyl isn’t right for every dog. 

Consult a Dutch vet if you think your dog could benefit from Rimadyl. Whether your dog is suffering from joint pain or any other type of inflammation, our televet services can help you determine the right treatment method for your dog from the comfort of their own home. Learn how Dutch works

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References

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

  2. Edwards, Scott H. “Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in Animals - Pharmacology.” Merck Veterinary Manual, 10 Nov. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/pharmacology/inflammation/nonsteroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs-in-animals.

  3. Reid, J., et al. “Measuring Chronic Pain in Osteoarthritic Dogs Treated Long-Term with Carprofen, through Its Impact on Health-Related Quality of Life.” Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0038-1660890.

  4. “Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Signs and Treatment.” American Kennel Club, 26 May 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/osteoarthritis-signs-treatment/.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

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During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

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