Everything To Know About Carprofen for Dogs: Uses, Side Effects and More

By: Katie KoschalkPublished:

dog eating pill pocket
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Everything To Know About Carprofen for Dogs: Uses, Side Effects and More

This content was reviewed by a veterinary professional to answer your most common questions about this topic. This content shouldn’t take the place of advice by your vet. No writer or qualified reviewer has received any compensation from the manufacturer of any medication as part of creating this article.

If you’re a dog parent, there’s a good chance your pooch will take carprofen at some point in their life. Commonly prescribed by veterinarians, carprofen for dogs helps reduce pain and inflammation due to osteoarthritis, surgeries, dental procedures and soft tissue injuries.

We spoke to vet experts to get all the details about this drug, including its uses, dosage recommendations and potential side effects. We’ll also share how to get your dog to take it without a fuss.

What Is Carprofen for Dogs? And Is It Safe?

Carprofen is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used in dogs to reduce pain and inflammation, typically due to osteoarthritis and pain following surgery. Carprofen is utilized commonly in dogs due to its effectiveness and safety profile when used appropriately, says Bethany Hsia, DVM, co-founder of animal end-of-life care network CodaPet.

Carprofen is the drug’s generic name, so you might recognize it under one of its brand names, like Rimadyl®, Vetprofen®, Carprieve®, Novox® or quellin. These medications are available by prescription only and come in various forms, including chewable tablets, caplets and injectable solutions.

Carprofen is FDA-approved in dogs for the relief of pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and to control post-operative pain and inflammation. As with any medication, follow the dosage instructions provided by your veterinarian to reduce the risk of adverse effects.

What Is Carprofen Used for in Dogs?

Carprofen is commonly used in dogs to alleviate pain and inflammation associated with various conditions, including:

Post-Surgical Pain

After surgical procedures, dogs may experience pain and inflammation,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, veterinarian at Animal Hospital of West Monroe in Louisiana. “Carprofen can help control these symptoms, allowing for a smoother recovery process.”

Soft Tissue Injuries

“From sprains to strains, carprofen can be an effective tool in managing the pain and swelling associated with various soft tissue injuries in dogs,” explains Dr. Ochoa.

A soft tissue injury refers to injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments or other connective tissues. These types of injuries tend to result from overexertion, sudden movements, accidents or repetitive stress.

Dental Procedures

Dental issues can be extremely painful for dogs,” Dr. Ochoa says. Carprofen may be prescribed before or after dental procedures, such as tooth extractions, to help alleviate discomfort and inflammation, she adds.

Osteoarthritis

“Dogs, particularly older ones, often suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints,” says Dr. Ochoa. “Carprofen may help reduce inflammation, relieve chronic pain and improve mobility, thereby enhancing the quality of life for dogs with osteoarthritis.”

Side Effects of Carprofen for Dogs

While carprofen is generally well-tolerated in dogs, pet parents should be aware of some potential side effects of carprofen. The most common are gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea and lack of appetite, Dr. Hsia says. These symptoms can quickly lead to dehydration, so contact your vet if they persist.

According to Dr. Ochoa, rare but more serious side effects include:

  • Ulcers: NSAIDs, including carprofen, have been linked to the development of stomach ulcers. Symptoms such as black, tarry or bloody stools could indicate internal bleeding stemming from ulcers.
  • Kidney problems: Carprofen can sometimes affect the kidneys, causing symptoms like increased thirst, frequent urination or changes in urine color.
  • Liver problems: Liver issues may arise in some dogs taking carprofen and may cause signs including lethargy, increased thirst or loss of appetite.
  • Allergic reactions: Red, itchy skin and scabbing can indicate an allergic reaction or sensitivity to the medication. Be particularly vigilant for allergy symptoms like hives, swelling and difficulty breathing, which can indicate a medical emergency.

If you notice side effects after giving your dog carprofen or suspect an overdose, contact your vet immediately or an animal poison control center such as Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 or ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.

Carprofen Dosage for Dogs

The appropriate dosage of carprofen for dogs depends on several factors, including the specific condition being treated, the form of the medication (i.e., chewable, capsule or injectable) and the dog’s weight, age and overall health. Follow the label direction as provided by your veterinarian who will prescribe a dosage and treatment plan appropriate for your specific pet.

How To Give Dogs Carprofen

So, your vet has prescribed your pup carprofen—now what? Injectable carprofen is usually only given by a vet in a hospital, but here’s how to give your dog carprofen in caplet, chewable or oral liquid form.

Caplet

The most effective way to get your dog to take a carprofen caplet (pill) is by hiding it in a pill pouch, which are soft dog treats with a hollow center. Pill pouches, like Greenies pill pockets or Milk-Bone pill pouches, come in various flavors that can mask the taste of the medicine and make it easier for the dog to swallow, Dr. Ochoa says. Be sure to watch your dog eat the pill pocket to ensure they swallow the pill and don’t pull a sneaky spit-out!

If these tricks can’t fool your dog, you can try using a pet piller or your hand. Here’s what to do:

  • Insert the pill into the tip of the piller.
  • Gently place the piller into the back of your dog’s throat (or use your hand to place the pill there).
  • If using a piller, press the plunger to release the pill into your dog’s mouth.
  • Hold your dog’s mouth closed for a few seconds, while gently tilting their head toward the ceiling to help the pill go down.

For a visual, watch our Chewtorial on how to give your dog a pill like a pro.

Greenies Pill Pockets Canine Real Peanut Butter Flavor Dog Treats
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Milk-Bone Pill Pouches Hickory Smoked Bacon Flavor Dog Treats
$4.29
VetOne Pet Piller
$24.69

Chewable Tablet

Chewable tablets are often meat flavored (beef, liver), so most dogs readily gobble them when offered. If they don’t accept it or spit it out, try hiding the tablet in a pill pocket, or use a piller.

Oral Liquid

In certain circumstances, your vet may recommend a compounded formulation of carprofen. Compounded medications are not FDA-approved and are prescribed if there’s a specific reason your pet’s health can’t be managed by an FDA-approved drug. They are created by either a veterinarian or a licensed pharmacist on an individual basis to best suit a pet’s particular needs. Learn more about compounded medications.

Carprofen compounded oral oil liquid comes in various dosages and flavors, and is made to order for your pet. This liquid is administered by aiming the syringe in the side of the dog’s mouth and squirting the liquid between their teeth and gums with a syringe.

Regardless of which form of carprofen is prescribed, never exceed the recommended amount and always give the medication at the prescribed intervals. If you notice side effects, contact your vet immediately.

How Long Does It Take for Carprofen to Work?

Carprofen typically takes effect within 13 hours after giving it to your dog. However, the time it takes to kick in can vary depending on your dog’s individual metabolism, the severity of the condition and whether the medication is given with food.

FAQs About Carprofen for Dogs

Q:

Is ibuprofen and carprofen the same thing?

A:No, ibuprofen and carprofen are not the same thing. While they both belong to the class of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), they are different compounds with distinct pharmacological properties. Ibuprofen (aka Advil) is specifically formulated for human use and is harmful and can be toxic to dogs. Do not give your dog ibuprofen. Carprofen, on the other hand, is an NSAID commonly prescribed for dogs to manage pain and inflammation.

Q:

Are there alternatives to carprofen for dogs?

A:Yes, there are several alternatives to carprofen for dogs, such as other dog anti-inflammatories like meloxicam, deracoxib and firocoxib. Other classes of medications such as corticosteroids (like prednisone) and opioid medications (like morphine) are also used to treat pain and inflammation. The choice of medication depends on the dog’s specific condition and medical history.

Carprofen should not be taken with other NSAIDs or corticosteroids, Dr. Hsia says. It’s crucial to inform your veterinarian about all medications or supplements your dog is taking to avoid potential drug interactions.

Q:

Can carprofen be given to dogs on an empty stomach?

A:While carprofen can be given with or without food, it’s generally recommended to give it with a meal to help minimize the risk of gastrointestinal upset. However, always follow your vet’s instructions regarding dosing and administration.

Q:

Can carprofen be used for long-term pain management in dogs?

A:Yes, carprofen is generally safe for long-term use in dogs under the supervision of a veterinarian. It’s commonly prescribed for chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, where ongoing pain relief is necessary to maintain the dog’s quality of life, says Dr. Hsia. Dogs taking carprofen long term will have periodic blood work done to ensure there are no adverse reactions.

Q:

Are there any risk factors for carprofen?

A:Carprofen should not be used in dogs who have bleeding disorders such as von Willebrand disease; have low platelet counts; are allergic to carprofen or other NSAIDs; or are taking other NSAIDs or steroids. It may not be the right choice for pets who have underlying liver or kidney disease.

Carprofen is generally well-tolerated by dogs and is a common medication used by veterinarians for pain and inflammation. Talk to your vet to determine if it is the right medication for you and your pup. Next, learn about anxiety medications for dogs.

Expert input provided by Bethany Hsia, DVM, co-founder of animal end-of-life care network CodaPet; and Sara Ochoa, DVM, veterinarian at Animal Hospital of West Monroe in Louisiana.

This content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.

Carprofen is generally well-tolerated by dogs and is a common medication used by veterinarians for pain and inflammation. Talk to your vet to determine if it is the right medication for you and your pup. Next, learn about anxiety medications for dogs.

Expert input provided by Bethany Hsia, DVM, co-founder of animal end-of-life care network CodaPet; and Sara Ochoa, DVM, veterinarian at Animal Hospital of West Monroe in Louisiana.

This content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.

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By: Katie KoschalkPublished:

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