Radiographs of hip dysplasia and other arthritic  joint diseases provided by the makers (Zoetis)
of Rimadyl.

Some comments about Rimadyl and other pain medications commonly used in small animal veterinary practice.

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About Rimadyl

This page is brought to you as a courtesy of the FoxNest Veterinary Hospital of Seneca, South Carolina and obviously, The Pfizer Company, the makers of Rimadyl.

Rimadyl, if you haven't alreadly read about it on the previous page, has been a God Send for pets in misery.  Rimadyl is a really great medication for the relief of pain and inflammation of arthritis and other joint disease.

Just as with machines, in a live body, anytime there are moving parts influenced by friction, vibration, weight load, contact surfaces, sheering and other forces bearing down, there's apt to be trouble. It's amazing our joints hold up as well as they do.

The radiographs at right simply give you an idea of what we vets are looking for when we suspect joint disease. As you can see, the difference between normal and badly diseased is not very dramatic...the arthritic joint versus the normal joint is indicated simply by  areas of "fuzziness" and small bits of calcified material building up along the critical surfaces.

I have lots of comments about joint disease in general ...I'll get them written down fairly soon.

On Other Pages:

Skeletal Problems and Lameness: Page 1

Arthritis: treatment options and what to expect when you go to the vet

Hip Dysplasia

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries

Femoral Head Removal


Disc Disease in pets

Rimadyl (Carprofen), introduced by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in January 1997, has proven to be a very successful means of relieving arthritis symptoms in dogs.

Many users feel it has vastly improved the quality of their dogs' lives and, in some cases, even extended their lives.  Rimadyl is also very helpful with minimizing post surgery or injury pain. 

For most pets needing pain relief, this is a great medicine for short or long term use.  Click here to go Pfizer's website about Rimadyl.

As a vet, I'm enthusiastic about Rimadyl, because before the availability of this medication, the only practical choices for dogs in misery were aspirin, ibuprofen, steroids, Tylenol, Aleve, phenylbutazone, and narcotics.  All these choices, while often helpful, were frought with severe side effects, especially for long term use, and frequently didn't work all that great.

I can't emphasize enough, how many older dogs come into veterinary clinics each day needing relief from arthritic pain.  And we desperately needed better pain medications for the many pets we saw badly injured and for the management of surgical pain.

Well, Rimadyl was one of the first of several brands of great pain medications that weren't steroidal, weren't narcotic, and didn't cause nearly as many side effects as other non-steroidal pain medications.

However, with millions of older dogs getting Rimadyl, it turns out that some patients DON'T tolerate Rimadyl well and like almost all potent, effective medications, a few patients have severe adverse effects to include an occasional death.  The most common problem is with liver disease and GI bleeding.  Rimadyl requires a healthy liver to be metabolized and not all old dogs have a healthy liver.

So, it's important to take the trouble of test your pet for liver disease before using Rimadyl for long term use, and ideally, even for short term use.  And it's important to test the liver periodically if using Rimadyl long term.

It's important to be very cautious about using Rimadyl (carprofen) in
animals with known bleeding disorders and should not be used if a dog has pre-existing liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or a known tendency towards gastrointestinal ulceration.

You have to be cautious about using Rimadyl along with any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin, or along with any corticosteroids.

Also, since older dogs tend to have multiple problems, you need to know that there is increased risk when giving Rimadyl to patients also taking phenobarbital or enalapril

And we rely on pet owners to be observant; if after giving Rimadyl (or any other pain medication) take seriously any of the following symptoms, stop the medication, and tell your vet:

loss of appetite
change in drinking habits (refusal to drink or increased water consumption)
unusual pattern of urination, blood in the urine, sweet-smelling urine, an overabundance of urine, urine accidents in the house
black, tarry stools or flecks of blood in the vomit
lethargy, drowsiness, hyperactivity, restlessness, aggressiveness
staggering, stumbling, weakness or partial paralysis, full paralysis, seizures, dizziness, loss of balance
jaundice (yellowing of the skin, mucus membranes and whites of the eyes)

Okay, now that I've freaked you out with warnings, calm down and take this all in perspective. 

The vast majority of pets, many of whom are in dire need of relief from pain or severe discomfort not only tolerate Rimadyl well, but become so obviously joyful and mobile and playful, it's no wonder that this drug has become a best seller.

And compared to all the other drugs available before Rimadyl, what an improvement.  You simply have to understand that a small percentage of dogs don't do well with the medication or shouldn't be taking it because of other problems like pre-existing liver or heart disease.  So you and your vet need to watch closely for problems and do some testing when using this and other powerful drugs.

Are there other choices?  You bet.  Since Rimadyl became available in 1997, we now have a choice of several other very similar medications (cox-2 inhibitors), each with potential advantages and disadvantages when compared to Rimadyl and some vets are big fans of these other drugs.  I like to switch from one brand to another when needed based on the individual dog trying to determine which medication seems to help the most with the fewest problems.

In addition, we now have other types of therapy that we can use instead of or in combination with Rimadyl and the other new pain medications such as

Glucosamine formulas
The Omega Fatty Acids

All these supplemental arthritis treatments are discussed in more detail on the page about arthritis.

Thanks, Roger Ross DVM

Cats in pain

In the discussion to your right, I get very enthusastic about Rimadyl as a pain reliever in dogs.

Well, what about cats?  They also get debilitating arthritis and they certainly need pain relief when badly injured or during and after painful surgeries.

I'm not ignoring cat pain at all, but cats, unfortunately, are much more likely to experience serious adverse effects with pain medications. 

Tylenol (acetominophen), for example, is often deadly.

And while cox-2 inhibitor medications like Rimadyl (not approved for cats) or Metacam (approved for cats for one time use) are usually very helpful and safe for very short term use after surgery, they are not safe for long term use which is needed for arthritis.

For cats, I like to recommend glucosamine and omega fatty acids for arthritic pain, and when needed, tiny amounts of muscle relaxers and narcotics, two classes of drugs I'm not going to discuss on the internet.

A favorite pain medication that is safe for cats is Duralactin Suspension.  It's fairly new, and a neutriceutical product so your vet may not be familiar with it yet.
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Cat Related Information On Other Pages:

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