What do you use for the relief of pain and management of inflammation in your dog? Is the medication you are using safe? Is it fast-acting? Or, long-lasting? In this article, we will talk about Carprofen for dogs. 

Carprofen is an FDA-approved pain reliever explicitly formulated for dogs. It belongs to the family of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, and when used following the vet’s guidelines, it is safe and effective. 

But before you give your dog a tablet of Carprofen, you need to learn more. Keep reading to find everything you need to know about Carprofen for dogs – health benefits, possible risks, and usage instructions.  

Can I Give My Dog Carprofen?

Can I Give My Dog Carprofen

Yes, you can give your dog Carprofen – just keep in mind that you need a prescription from the vet. Carprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that works by managing pain and inflammation. 

Carprofen is the active ingredient, and based on the manufacturer, it is available under several brand names, including Rimadyl, Vetprofen, Canidryl, Levafen, Norocarp, Rovera, Carprieve, Novox, and Quellin. Carprofen is FDA-approved for use in dogs. 

When to Use Carprofen for Dogs

Carprofen should be used when managing pain and inflammation. This is because Carprofen works by inhibiting prostaglandins or, better said, inhibiting the so-called COX enzymes. 

Namely, there are two types of cyclooxygenase COX enzymes – COX-1 (responsible for blood clotting, kidney perfusion, and production of protective GI tract liner) and COX-2 (responsible for processes like pain, inflammation, and fever). Carprofen exerts its effects by selectively blocking the COX-2 enzymes. 

Benefits and Uses of Carprofen for Dogs

Carprofen has two main effects – managing pain and reducing inflammation. Listed below are the top conditions and situations that could benefit from Carprofen for dogs. 

Carprofen for Dog Osteoarthritis Pain. Arthritis is a prevalent issue among dogs, especially seniors. Although not life-threatening, it is harming the quality of life and, unless managed, progresses. Carprofen is the perfect option for dogs with osteoarthritis as it tackles its main aspects – pain and inflammation. 

Carprofen for Control of Postoperative Pain in Dogs. Carprofen is the drug of choice for providing pain relief for patients during post-surgery recovery periods. Carprofen is ideal for dogs undergoing both soft tissue surgeries and orthopedic surgeries. 

Potential Side Effects and Risks of Carprofen for Dogs

Benefits and Uses of Carprofen for Dogs

Carprofen is a relatively well-tolerated medication for dogs. However, as with any other drug, side effects are possible. Such adverse effects are more likely to occur in overly sensitive dogs and following incorrect doses. 

For easy understanding, we will classify the potential side effects of Carprofen for dogs in several categories:

  • Gastrointestinal Side Effects– these are the most commonly observed side effects and usually resolve as soon as you stop giving the drug. Commonly observed gastrointestinal side effects include:
  • Liver Side Effects– the potential side effects affecting the liver are very rare, but in case they develop, quite severe. To avoid liver side effects, vets recommend regular checkups, especially if using Carprofen in senior dogs or for prolonged times. Signs and symptoms indicating damaging of the liver: 
    • Vomiting
    • Jaundice (yellowing of gums)
    • Loss of appetite
    • Abnormal test results
    • Hepatoxicity
  • Skin Side Effects– on rare occasions, Carprofen may trigger changes in the dog’s skin, fur, or nails. The group of skin side effects includes issues like:   
    • Skin lesions
    • Increased shedding
    • Hair loss 
    • Excessive itchiness
    • Bruises in the abdominal area
    • Necrotizing vasculitis 
  • Urinary Tract Side Effects– Carprofen may sometimes affect the kidneys. In such cases, you can expect urinary side effects such as:
    • Increased urination frequency
    • Increased thirst and water intake 
    • Urinary incontinence 
    • Presence of blood in the urine
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Glomerular disease
    • Tubular disease or kidney failure.
  • Hematology (Blood) Side Effects– rarely, the Carprofen use can trigger blood changes like:  
    • Nosebleeds
    • Anemia due to vomiting blood or bloody stools and urine
    • Hemolytic anemia (decreased red blood cell counts)
    • Thrombocytopenia (decreased platelet counts)
  • Nervous System Side Effects – although not frequently, Carprofen has the potential to cause neurological deficits manifesting with:  
    • Loss of balance
    • Lack of coordination 
    • Disorientation
    • Wandering in circles
    • Stumbling or falling
    • Head tilting
    • Tremors and seizures
    • Full or partial paralysis
  • Behavior-Related Side Effects– this group of side effects occurs if the drug administration and effects are linked with some form of discomfort. Common Carprofen-related behavioral changes include: 
    • Hyperactivity
    • Aggression
    • Restlessness
    • Lethargy and sedation
    • Ataxia (lack of coordination). 

In addition to these side effects, Carprofen may also trigger allergic reactions in some dogs. The common allergy signs include hives, facial swelling, skin rashes, and in more severe cases, even impaired breathing. 

Carprofen is beneficial and efficient in managing pain and inflammation. However, it is not the ideal choice for all dogs. Sadly, Carprofen should not be used in:

  • Dogs allergic to the active ingredient or other NSAIDs
  • Dogs receiving meds with established drug interactions
  • Dogs with bleeding disorders (Von Willebrand disease)
  • Dogs with low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia)

Carprofen can be used with extra caution and frequent monitoring in the following categories:

  • Puppies younger than six weeks of age 
  • Senior dogs
  • Pregnant and lactating females 
  • Dehydrated and terminally ill dogs
  • Dogs with pre-existing heart, kidney, and liver issues
  • Dogs with gastrointestinal diseases and ulcers

Additionally, it should be noted that although frequently prescribed for pain management after orthopedic surgeries, Carprofen may slow down the bone healing process. 

Finally, Carprofen is likely to alter lab test results giving false measurements for parameters like thyroid levels, liver enzymes, kidney values, bleeding times, blood cell counts, and potassium levels.

caprofen dosage for dogs

When your veterinarian writes your dog a Carprofen prescription, they will explain how to give the medication. However, we have listed below the recommended dosage.

For starters, Carprofen for dogs comes in tablets with three different strengths – 25 mg, 75 mg, and 100 mg. The recommended dosage is 2 mg of Carprofen per pound of body weight a day. Depending on why it is prescribed, you can give your dog Carprofen once daily or split the dose and give 1 mg per lb twice a day. 

For example, a small 20-pound dog would need 40 mg (one and a half 25 mg tablets), while a large 100-pound dog would need 200 mg (two 100 mg tablets). Here is a dosing chart to make the calculations simpler:

  • Dogs weighing 10 pounds – 20mg 
  • Dogs weighing 20 pounds – 40mg
  • Dogs weighing 30 pounds – 60mg
  • Dogs weighing 40 pounds – 80mg
  • Dogs weighing 50 pounds – 100mg
  • Dogs weighing 60 pounds – 120mg
  • Dogs weighing 70 pounds – 140mg
  • Dogs weighing 80 pounds – 160mg
  • Dogs weighing 90 pounds – 180mg
  • Dogs weighing 100 pounds – 200mg

The Carprofen tablets can be administered with or without food. In general, a dog prone to stomach upset will handle the medication better if given with food.

In case you forget giving your dog its Carprofen dose, there are two main options – provide the tablet as soon as you remember or skip the missed dose completely and give the next dose in accordance with the regular dosing schedule.  

Either way, one thing is imperative – you must never double up the dose to compensate. This is because too much Carprofen is harmful and can lead to overdose. Signs indicating carprofen toxicosis include:

  • Diarrhea and vomiting 
  • Bloody stools 
  • Appetite loss 
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue and weakness

Carprofen overdoses in dogs are potentially life-threatening, and sadly their solution is not simple – it involves stomach pumping, blood tests, and intensive care. So keep an eye out for the right Carprofen dosage for your dog! 

Carprofen for Dogs Usage Guidelines

Carprofen is a fast-acting medication, meaning it will provide your dog with much-needed pain relief between one and two hours after administration. As a general rule of thumb, it is advised to use the lowest effective dose of Carprofen and for the shortest duration. As for storage, you can safely keep Carprofen at room temperature. 

When giving your dog Carprofen, you need to consider potential drug interactions. Namely, Carprofen must not be used in conjunction with the following medications:

  • Other NSAIDs for pets
  • Human NSAIDs (Ibuprofen, Naproxen)
  • Steroid medications (corticosteroids)
  • Immune suppressing drugs (cyclosporine)
  • Nephrotoxic (kidney-damaging) medications
  • Insulin and oral antidiabetics
  • Loop diuretics (furosemide) and desmopressin 
  • Chemotherapy drugs (dacarbazine, dactinomycin, methotrexate) 
  • ACE inhibitors (enalapril) and heart medications (digoxin) 
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (clomipramine)
  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
  • Highly protein-bound medications

When talking with your veterinarian, make sure to mention all supplements, vitamins, and even herbal remedies your dog is currently taking. 

If you are scared by the long list of potential side effects or your dog is not a candidate for Carprofen treatments, the vet will recommend alternatives. Here is what you can use for your dog’s pain and inflammation instead of Carprofen. 

Other NSAIDS for Dogs. There are various non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for dogs, such as Deracoxib (Deramaxx), Firocoxib (Previcox), and Meloxicam (Metacam). Keep in mind that NSAIDs formulated for humans (e.g., Ibuprofen, Naproxen) are toxic to dogs. 

Opioids for Dogs. If Carprofen is not working, talk with the vet about opioids. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid commonly prescribed off-label for managing pain in dogs. 

Gabapentin for Dogs. Gabapentin is another off-label medication. In dogs, it can be combined with both NSAIDs and opioids to boost their efficacy. 

If you do not want to put too much stress on your dog’s liver and prefer more natural solutions, there are various things you should try to provide pain relief for your dog. 

CBD Oil for Dogs. When it comes to managing pain and inflammation, the effects of Carprofen are similar to those of CBD oil for dogs. Plus, CBD oil comes with the advantage of being a 100% natural remedy. We recommend using the Honest Paws CBD oil and CBD edibles. They are made with full-spectrum, and organic hemp and feature added health-boosting ingredients. 

Our Final Thoughts on Carprofen for Dogs

giving your dog carprofen

Carprofen is one of the several meds approved for the relief of pain and inflammation in dogs. As long as you follow the veterinarian’s instructions and administer this non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug correctly, Carprofen will make your dog feel better in no time. 

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Katelyn Son