Rimadyl for Dogs: Side Effects, Dosage, and Alternatives

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Dogs undergo illness and disease like any other animal, which on occasion may call for prescribed medication as part of a treatment plan. As a result, your dog could respond unfavorably to certain medications due to allergies, how he metabolizes the drug, or a bad combination of certain prescription medications with other drugs or foods.

What is Rimadyl for Dogs?

Rimadyl, a brand name for the veterinarian drug Carprofen, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (commonly referred to as a NSAID). It is often prescribed to help alleviate pain and inflammation due to osteoarthritis in dogs or is given post-surgery. Side effects of NSAIDs for dogs may include:

  • Decrease in appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Changes in skin
  • Changes in urination habits

If your dog has been prescribed Rimadyl, make sure you keep a close eye on him for any adverse reaction, especially within the first several hours after administering the drug. Consult your veterinarian immediately should any of these side effects appear, as they could be indicative of more severe, internal problems like bleeding ulcers or kidney and liver problems in dogs.

Always ensure you understand the risks and side effects that come with any medication to prepare for any unfavorable results. When starting any new prescription for your pet, make sure to adhere to the prescribed dosage amount and time between administering the drug to avoid adverse reactions. A daily dosage of 2 mg per pound is commonly prescribed and administered either once daily or divided into two half doses as a chewable tablet. Notate as much as you can if there are changes in your pet’s appearance or behavior, so you can describe them accurately to your veterinarian, if necessary.

Side effects may not occur right away or they may lessen over time. Schedule regular checkups with your pet’s veterinarian to confirm that the prescription medication doesn’t need to be changed or discontinued altogether. What works for some pets may not be the best course of treatment for your dog.

How to Avoid Side Effects of Rimadyl

rimadyl for dogs_canna-pet

Prior to prescribing your pet medication of any kind, your veterinarian likely will confirm the allergies your pet suffers from and ask about prior complications with medications, illnesses, and/or surgeries. Make sure to:

  • Keep your pet’s medical records up to date to ensure all information is current and accurate.
  • Ask about alternative methods of care for your pet if your dog has had an allergic reaction to aspirin or other NSAIDs.

These are especially important if you decide to take your pet to a new veterinary clinic for treatment.

Dogs who currently suffer from or have suffered from liver or kidney disease may not be a good candidate for Rimadyl because of possible side effects.

Follow prescription instructions closely to help your pet heal fully. And if your pet is recovering quicker than anticipated, do not discontinue the use of Rimadyl without consulting with your veterinarian first. Missing doses or an abrupt stop to taking any medicine could cause further side effects in your pet.

Generally speaking, pain and inflammation should subside within a few days of your dog taking Rimadyl. However, if you discontinue use before the prescription is empty, it may result in the return of these symptoms and not allow full treatment and recovery for your dog. Every dog will respond differently to the medication so be extra cautious of other pets who may accidentally ingest it.  

Rimadyl for Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Rimadyl may be prescribed for your pet if he suffers from canine osteoarthritis. The condition is a result of wearing of the cartilage and joints, which may occur as your pet ages. Osteoarthritis can be quite painful for dogs. You may notice these symptoms in your dog prior to official diagnosis of osteoarthritis:

If your pet is having a harder time climbing steps, walking, or engaging in physical activity, schedule a checkup to identify and diagnose the problem.

Osteoarthritis causes pain, inflammation, and ultimately discomfort for your pet. In some cases, osteoarthritis or other joint pain may require surgery for your pet. In milder cases, Rimadyl can help alleviate these symptoms and provide your pet a more pain-free quality of life even as he grows older.

Unfortunately, Rimadyl is not a cure for osteoarthritis. It may be a drug that your dog must continuously take over the years to help with pain control. If your dog must take Rimadyl for an extended period of time, your veterinarian can discuss with you other routes of care. Review the pros and cons of the medication with your dog’s veterinarian to determine what is best for your dog both in short-term, and long-term situations.

rimadyl for dogs side effects_canna-pet

Rimadyl for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia may affect certain dogs, usually larger breeds, and become quite painful over time. Hip dysplasia in dogs occurs when the hip joint does not develop correctly. This causes it to grind rather than glide when there’s movement, eventually causing significant wear over time and loss of function.

Certain breeds are predisposed to hip dysplasia including:

Smaller breeds are not exempt from developing the condition. Side effects include:

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Decrease in activity (due to pain)
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness

If you notice your dog is in pain as he walks or favors one side more than the other, he may be suffering from hip dysplasia or another joint disorder.

Rimadyl may be prescribed to help lessen the pain and discomfort from hip dysplasia. If your dog is overweight, this can exacerbate the condition. In addition to medication, it may be recommended that you change your pet’s diet and exercise to promote weight loss. While joint pain may not make your dog eager to run and jump around, you can take short walks or find other ways to keep your pet as active as possible. Typically, a veterinarian is going to recommend these changes prior to the option of surgery.

With the right lifestyle changes and proper treatment plan, you can provide your dog a good quality of life for years to come.

Alternative Types of Treatment for Dogs

Medications like Rimadyl may not always be a pet owner’s first option when seeking treatment. Regardless of if your veterinarian recommends Rimadyl for your pet, you can always ask about alternative treatments or consult a second opinion. Regardless of any specific type of medication that’s prescribed, your dog’s ongoing health and wellness routine is important.

A balanced diet and exercise routine can help keep your pet active and contribute to his overall well-being. If he’s not currently following these healthy habits, a change in lifestyle can benefit healing.

If you want to switch your dog’s diet, or try CBD for dogs, ask your veterinarian or a pet dietician about recommendations to help your pet with his inflammation and joint pain. Example foods that may help with arthritis pain in dogs include:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Ginger
  • Blueberries
  • Coconut oil

Hemp nutrition is also an alternative to consider for your pet. This all-natural, whole-plant solution is safe to use with any medication or current nutritional plan. Its benefits include helping pets with pain, inflammation, mobility issues, and many other similar symptoms commonly associated with arthritis.

Massage therapy and acupuncture have also been shown to work for certain pets when owners take a more holistic route of care. These types of therapy can help with muscle stimulation and help reduce pain and stiffness. Discuss all options with your veterinarian and find out what is available for your pet.

FAQs about Rimadyl for Dogs

Is a prescription required to give Rimadyl to my dog?

Yes. Rimadyl is not available for over-the-counter purchase and must be prescribed by a veterinarian. If you have more than one dog, you cannot transfer prescriptions. A dog’s breed, current health condition, and age all factor into how well a response to medication will be.

How long should my pet take Rimadyl?

Rimadyl does not cure any joint conditions but rather eases the pain and inflammation that is often associated with arthritis and other similar health problems. In some instances, your veterinarian may recommend long-term use, while others may prescribe it for a short, post-surgery period of time. Schedule regular visits to the veterinary clinic to check-in regarding progress and other potential treatment options, if you don’t want your pet to take Rimadyl indefinitely.

what is rimadyl for dogs side effects_canna-pet

Does canine obesity mean my dog will have to take Rimadyl?

Rimadyl is prescribed for pets who suffer from inflammation and pain as a result of osteoarthritis and joint pain. However, obesity greatly affects joint pain. Simply put, when there’s more weight to carry, the harder it is on the joints. One of the best things you can do as part of preventative care for your pet is to give him a well-balanced diet. As your dog ages, he won’t need as many calories to maintain his energy throughout the day. As his activity level changes, so should his diet. Make adjustments during the different stages of your dog’s life to accommodate his “growing pains.” This will help prevent obesity and subsequent joint pain from occurring.

Can Rimadyl also be used if I have a cat?

Rimadyl is a medication prescribed to dogs only. If you also have a cat, accidental ingestion can cause serious side effects and may require an emergency visit to the veterinary clinic. Keep the medication well out of reach of your cat, if your dog has been prescribed Rimadyl.

Is it normal for my pet to lose weight from taking Rimadyl?

Vomiting is one of the main side effects dogs may experience from taking Rimadyl. If this is a recurring problem, it could cause malnutrition and unhealthy weight loss in your dog. If this occurs, speak to your veterinarian about alternative treatment options.

What are pros and cons of Rimadyl?


  • Possible pain relief for osteoarthritis and other joint issues
  • Possible alleviation of postoperative pain and inflammation


  • Potential for serious side effects such as vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dog may need to take Rimadyl indefinitely
  • Discontinued or interrupted use may cause other side effects

Caring for Your Dog

As your dog gets older, he may not run and play as he once used to, which can be difficult for pet owners. It means your pet is getting tired and may feel more pain when moving around. When this happens, it’s only natural for a dog owner to want to alleviate his pain and discomfort in any way possible. If you are concerned about your pet’s pain, speak with your veterinarian regarding treatment options.

From a holistic point of view, it most likely won’t be a singular thing that helps your pet feel better, but rather a group of complementary therapies that are working together. To make the best medical choices for your dog, research all options and decide with your dog’s doctor what is best. Monitor all changes and adjust treatment plans as needed.

Anyone who cares for your dog should also be in the know about any and all health conditions, as well as what medications your pet is taking. Make sure the dosages are administered properly and that all parties know the side effects to look out for. Also note that your dog’s reaction to Rimadyl may change over time. Regularly scheduled checkups allow the veterinarian to assess your pet’s health and determine if there are any changes that would make a positive difference.

It’d be nice if pets could go through their whole lives healthy and happy. Fortunately, for the most part, they can. However, when your dog is suffering from any kind of ailment, there are usually multiple treatment options to choose from. Knowing what’s available and asking questions as they pertain to your dog’s care helps you make the best decisions for your pet and keeps him living as comfortably as possible.


  1. Clark, Mike. “Rimadyl For Dogs: Uses, Dosage, & Side Effects.” Dogtime, 26 Jan. 2018, Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. www.dogtime.com/dog-health/56615-rimadyl-dogs-uses-dosage-side-effects.
  2. Burke, Anna. “Rimadyl for Dogs — Uses, Side Effects & Alternatives.” American Kennel Club, 10 Nov. 2016, Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/rimadyl-for-dogs/.
  3. “The Side Effects of Rimadyl for Dogs.” VetInfo, Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. www.vetinfo.com/side-effects-rimadyl.html.
  4. Khuly, Patty. “Rimadyl: The Controversy.” PetMD, Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted/2006/october/rimadyl-controversy-6509.
  5. “Rimadyl: Miracle Drug or Secret Killer?” Honest Paws, Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. www.honestpaws.com/blogs/medication/rimadyl.

Canna-Pet aims to provide accurate and up-to-date information to help our readers make informed decisions regarding their pet health. This article was written based upon trusted scientific research studies and/or articles and was written and reviewed by certified professionals. Credible information sources for this article are cited and hyperlinked.

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