Anti-Inflammatory For Dogs. They’re Safe? Are They Effective?
Dogs can also suffer from painful inflammations. Sometimes they are even paralyzed with pain. In these cases, anti-inflammatory drugs, both steroids (corticosteroids) and non-steroids (NSAIDs), can alleviate symptoms.
In this article, we will take a brief look at existing anti-inflammatory drugs for dogs, their characteristics, and their effectiveness.
However, you should never administer medications to your dog without being prescribed by your vet. Like all drugs, they can cause serious side effects, and their administration must be safe and aware of their risks.
Why do we use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, are the pain relievers most commonly used by veterinarians for the treatment of chronic pain associated with inflammation.
These medications target pain mediators in the dog’s central and peripheral nervous systems.
The effectiveness of this type of anti-inflammatory is due to several causes:
They are effective as an anti-inflammatory, pain relievers, and antipyretics.
They relieve acute and chronic pain.
They have a high protein binding capacity, so they adhere well to the target tissue.
Its effects begin to be felt quickly (between 30 and 60 minutes after administration) and last up to 24 hours.
They do not have immunosuppressive effects, so they can be used in the long term.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs act on the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX), which is a protein produced by the body, essential for the performance of different functions. The COX enzyme stimulates the production of various substances, including prostaglandin, which:
Contributes to pain, inflammation, and fever
Protects the lining of the stomach and intestines
Helps maintain blood flow to the kidneys
Involved in blood clotting
Many NSAIDs work by blocking COX, so fewer prostaglandins are produced. This implies the reduction of pain and inflammation, but it is also the cause of the side effects observed in the administration of these medications. Such side effects can be serious and include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and diarrhea, which can be bloody.
They may also appear stomach or intestinal ulcers, perforations, kidney failure or liver, and even death of the animal.
If your dog has any of these symptoms, stop the medication, and go to your vet.
Are corticosteroids, or anti-inflammatory steroids, dangerous for my dog?
In some cases, the use of an anti-inflammatory steroid, better known as a corticosteroid, may be recommended. Steroids are used to treat inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. However, these medications can present negative side effects, so it is very important to always administer them under veterinary prescription.
The corticosteroids most used in veterinary medicine are:
Of these, the most frequent in the medications prescribed by veterinarians are probably Prednisone and Prednisolone. Prednisolone is generated in the body from Prednisone, but medications that are already synthesized are sometimes prescribed.
Steroids exert their activity in the body in many ways and affect all systems, so regular veterinary supervision of the dog is recommended for the duration of the treatment.
As anti-inflammatories, steroids work by reducing the release of white blood cells from the bone marrow. Therefore, they are very effective in treating intervertebral disc disease (herniated disc).
Although the doses used are low, they do have side effects, including but not limited to vomiting, diarrhea, slow wound healing, or ulcers.
What are the most commonly used commercial anti-inflammatory drugs for dogs?
The most widely used anti-inflammatory drugs for dogs, approved by the FDA and other competent bodies, contain one of the following active ingredients:
Carprofen It is marketed under various trade names. The best known is RIMODYL.
Deracoxib. DERAMAXX, DOXIDYL
Ketoprofen. ANKOFEN, KETOFEN
Meloxicam. MELOXIDYL, MELOXIC, METACAN
Never give your dog an anti-inflammatory without first consulting your vet.
Can I give paracetamol or ibuprofen to my dog?
Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers for people should not be administered to dogs. Only anti-inflammatory drugs approved for veterinary use offer guarantees of safety and efficacy for the indicated species.
In some cases, veterinarians use ibuprofen to treat inflammatory processes and pain in the dog, but keep in mind that it is dangerous to exceed the dose and there are other anti-inflammatories specifically designed for them.
Aspirin is, in principle, safe for dogs, but should be administered by veterinary indication, since side effects are frequent.
Paracetamol is toxic to dogs.
For that very reason, you shouldn’t give your cat a prescription anti-inflammatory for your dog. For example, of the NSAIDs we have noted, only Meloxicam is suitable for cats, and not for long-term use.
Be aware that the side effects of anti-inflammatories can be very harmful to your dog, even fatal. You should never administer a medication to your dog without veterinary supervision.
The use of Carprofen as a canine anti-inflammatory
In 1997, Pfizer introduced Carprofen as an anti-inflammatory for dogs. Commercialized under different trademarks, Rimadyl® is possibly the best known.
Carprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that is used in the treatment of osteoarthritis and postsurgical pain in dogs. It relieves pain and increases the mobility of dogs with arthritis and has become one of the most prescribed veterinary drugs.
But although it is a safe medicine, the common side effects of NSAIDs are observed.
Carprofen’s effectiveness is high and is generally well tolerated by the dog. However, its use is contraindicated in case the dog is allergic to this active ingredient, aspirin, or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.
It is recommended that the dog undergo a complete physical examination, including blood tests before this medication is administered. Likewise, it is recommended that the vet periodically follow up during the time the dog has to take the medicine.
If your dog has been prescribed an anti-inflammatory whose active ingredient is Carprofen and has any of the negative symptoms, stop the treatment, and see your vet.
What is Deracoxib and how does it affect my dog?
Deracoxib is an NSAID that is used in dogs after surgery, for the treatment of osteoarthritis and also for other painful conditions or injuries.
Its effectiveness is manifested in one or two hours and it is important to administer the doses at the times indicated by the veterinarian.
Side effects are typical of any NSAID. It is important to monitor the dog, discontinue medication, and promptly discuss any of these symptoms with the vet.
It is a moderate-acting medicine, so its effect should disappear in a few days, although in the case of liver or kidney disease, it can be prolonged.
It should not be used in dogs with hypersensitivity to sulfa drugs, who have an allergic reaction to this active ingredient, to aspirin or to other NSAIDs, who have liver or kidney disease or who are breeding, pregnant or breastfeeding.
Some medications interact with Deracoxib, as well as some vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies.
Meloxicam and its use as an anti-inflammatory for dogs
Meloxicam is another of the most used active ingredients in canine anti-inflammatories. It is used to treat inflammation caused by osteoarthritis, in addition to other bone and muscle disorders.
Meloxicam works by reducing the body’s hormones that cause pain and inflammation, and it is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Meloxicam is used frequently after recent surgery or injury, and it is important to adjust the dose well, since its excessive use can cause vomiting, dizziness, fainting, seizures, or cardiac arrest, among other serious side effects.
If you notice black stools, bloody diarrhea, bloody vomit, an allergic reaction, or any of the negative symptoms described for NSAIDs, stop treatment, and see your vet.
Firocoxib and its use as a canine anti-inflammatory
Firocoxib is the active ingredient in brands like Previcox®. It is an NSAID used to treat arthritis and pain after surgery or trauma. It is also used in the treatment of some carcinomas. It begins to take effect from 1 or 2 hours after its administration.
Its side effects are the usual ones in any NSAID. It should not be used in dogs that have an allergic reaction to it, other NSAIDs, dogs with ulcers or kidney, liver, or heart disease.
It can interact with other medications and also with vitamins, supplements, and natural herbal treatments.
Is it dangerous to use Ketoprofen as an anti-inflammatory for dogs?
Ketoprofen is used for the treatment of moderate pain and inflammation. In the United States, use for small animals is not approved, but in Europe and Canada, it is used in oral and parenteral formulations.
Ketoprofen is a non-selective inhibitor of the COX enzyme and is currently used in horses, but it is not usually used in dogs and cats since there are NSAIDs with fewer side effects.
Its administration must always be under veterinary control.
What are Prednisone and Prednisolone and how do they affect my dog?
Prednisone and prednisolone are corticosteroids that are used as anti-inflammatory agents. Both have the same essential functions.
Prednisone is converted to prednisolone in the liver. In the event that the dog has liver disease, the veterinarian may prescribe a medication that already has Prednisolone as an active ingredient.
They are usually prescribed for the treatment of Addison’s disease (injury to the adrenal glands), where the production of steroid hormones is insufficient. Also, they are effective in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and to combat allergic reactions, due to their immunosuppressive effect (they suppress the responses of the immune system).
They are also used in the treatment of some cancers, arthritis, asthma, intestinal or dermatological diseases, among other things.
They are safe medications, although they must be prescribed by a veterinarian. Among its possible side effects are:
Slow wound healing
Changes in behavior
In case of prolonged use, the dog could also suffer diabetes, ulcers in the digestive system, Cushing’s disease, hair loss, bloating, or heart problems.
The medication should gradually be stopped.
Natural anti-inflammatories for dogs
If your dog suffers an inflammatory process that causes pain, it is essential to go to the vet, as it may be due to some cause that requires immediate treatment.
You should never supply anti-inflammatories to your dog without first consulting your vet.
As for natural anti-inflammatory drugs, it is true that there are substances that can treat inflammation effectively without the side effects of medications. However, consult your vet about their use, as they can have side effects, and some interact with the active ingredients of various drugs.
Among the most common natural anti-inflammatories that are harmless to dogs are:
Arnica. There are specific creams for dogs, and they also come in capsules. It is a good topical anti-inflammatory.
Curcumin. Turmeric is very effective, as it has high anti-inflammatory power. You can add it to dog food (a tablespoon of coffee is enough). The best is organic since it contains a higher proportion of curcumin, its active ingredient. Curcumin has a high antioxidant power, which acts on free radicals and reduces inflammation. You should bear in mind that it is also an anticoagulant, so it is advisable to consult the vet about its use.
Cinnamon. Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory properties and its consumption is safe for the dog. For a dog weighing about 20 kilos, ¼ teaspoon (of coffee) of cinnamon powder added to food twice a day for two weeks is enough. If your dog is going to undergo a surgical process, you should suspend its administration a few weeks before, since it can increase the risk of bleeding.
White hawthorn. Hawthorn is widely used to relieve arthritis, as it helps the body stabilize collagen. However, it can interfere with some medications, for example, those used to treat heart disease in dogs, so it is essential that you consult your vet first.
Comfrey. Comfrey is a purple flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. You can give it to your dog with food or apply it as a poultice. Use caution because it contains pyrrolizidine, which in high doses can cause liver problems.
Boswellia serrata. It is extracted from the resin of the Olibanum, or Indian incense tree. It is effective against pain and inflammation and is often combined with turmeric in Ayurvedic medicine. In principle, it has no adverse effects, although in some cases it causes episodes of diarrhea and flatulence.
Omega 3. Omega 3 supplements are very effective as an anti-inflammatory agent.
There are more natural anti-inflammatory drugs. We always recommend using them after having carefully read their properties, taking into account their possible adverse effects and with the authorization of your veterinarian.
There are many types of anti-inflammatory drugs to treat your dog’s pain. The most widely used anti-inflammatory drugs are called NSAIDs (Non-Steroids). Anti-inflammatory NSAIDs are very effective and also have great antipyretic and analgesic capacity. There are also steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, known as corticosteroids. They can all have side effects. You should never give an anti-inflammatory developed for humans to your dog. Anti-inflammatories must be prescribed by a veterinarian. It is also important to keep track of the dog during treatment. Natural anti-inflammatory drugs can be very effective but sometimes have side effects. Also, consult your vet about the possibility of administering a natural anti-inflammatory to your dog.