No pet owner likes to see their canine friends suffer from pain, for any reason. It doesn’t matter where the pain is coming from, pain is pain, right? And pain is miserable. Some dogs suffer from pain that may be related to cancer and cancer treatments, and some dogs suffer from chronic pain such as the pain that comes from arthritis.
Some dogs experience short-term pain related to an injury and sometimes dogs need pain management medications after a necessary surgery. Whatever the case may be, when it comes to pain, Meloxicam can help.
What is Meloxicam for Dogs?
Meloxicam is an NSAID, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for dogs that is used to help reduce inflammation, pain, and the associated stiffness that is related to disorders of the musculoskeletal system (such as osteoarthritis in dogs).
It is a prescription drug, it is not available over-the-counter, and it is sold by the pill. Meloxicam is FDA approved for use in dogs and is used to treat a myriad of health conditions that cause pain and inflammation.
Meloxicam can also be used to reduce a dog’s fever. Usage however, should always be closely monitored as it can be dangerous in doses that are too high, and dogs need to stay well-hydrated when using Meloxicam.
Benefits of Meloxicam for Dogs
Some of the benefits of Meloxicam for dogs includes being sold as tablets that are easy to give to your dog by mouth, as well as being available in liquid or injection form for dogs that have a hard time taking tablets. It is effective at reducing inflammation, pain, and stiffness that is often associated with various health conditions, and it is sold by the tablet, so you only pay for what you truly need.
How Does Meloxicam for Dogs Work?
Meloxicam works by inhibiting the chemicals and hormones that cause inflammation and pain in dogs. These chemicals are called prostaglandins. Meloxicam also works by inhibiting phospholipase A-2 and COX-2, which are some of the agents responsible for pain and inflammation in dogs.
Meloxicam reduces pain and irritation without the need for steroid medications. There is also a version of Meloxicam that is used in humans, called Mobic, but Mobic should never be given to a dog in lieu of Meloxicam, as the two versions of the drug are not interchangeable.
Dosages of Meloxicam for Dogs
The dosage of Meloxicam for dogs is determined by your dog’s weight. A typical dose is .09 to 0.1 mg per pound on the first day, and then .045 to 0.05 mg per pound thereafter, given to your dog once daily.
Meloxicam is an oral medication typically prescribed as 7.5 mg tablets. Though Meloxicam can be given to a dog on an empty stomach, they should still be given plenty of water, and food may be helpful.
If you have trouble giving your dog the tablets, you can ask your vet about a liquid form of Meloxicam that you can add to your dog’s food instead. The goal is to give your dog the lowest dose you can while still being effective at relieving their pain.
So, it may take some tweaking to get your dog’s dose just right. Another option for administering Meloxicam is by injection, but you need to talk to your vet about the injections and you will have to have them demonstrate to you how give them to your pet. If you are leery of needles, it may not be the best option.
It’s also important to make sure you follow your vet’s advice on dosage to the letter, because giving your dog too much Meloxicam can result in some pretty serious side effects. Note that if you miss a dose, you can make up the dose, but you need to do it as soon as possible.
However, if the next dose is due soon, just skip the one that you missed, and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Never give your dog a double dose of Meloxicam.
Side Effects of Meloxicam for Dogs
Meloxicam has side effects similar to any other NSAID medication, such as Naproxen, Aspirin, and Ibuprofen for dogs. This means that your dog can suffer from severe gastrointestinal upset if they are given too high of a dose. If you notice that the side effects from Meloxicam usage seem to be getting worse, or if they are very severe right out of the gate, talk to your vet so that they can try to adjust the dosage and find a level of pain relief that works for your dog.
Some of the most common side effects of Meloxicam for dogs includes:
- Black or bloody stools
- Blood that is visible in your dog’s vomit
- Stomach ulcers
- Abdominal pain and tenderness to the touch
- An increase thirst as well as urination
- Possible swelling or weight gain due to fluid retention
- Stools that look like tar
- Muscle weakness
- Jaundice (your dog’s eyes, gums, and skin appear yellow)
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Skin irritation such as redness, scratching, and scabs
- Even a loss of kidney function
You dog can also experience behavior changes such as:
Additionally, some dogs can experience an allergic reaction to the drug and go into anaphylactic shock.
Some of the signs of anaphylactic shock include:
If your dog appears to be having an allergic reaction to Meloxicam or you think they may be going into anaphylactic shock, you need to treat the situation as an emergency and see your vet immediately. Anaphylactic shock can be life-threatening.
Precautions for Use of Meloxicam for Dogs
It is not advisable to give Meloxicam to dogs that are pregnant or nursing. Meloxicam should also not be given to puppies that are under six months of age. Dogs on Meloxicam should stay very hydrated, and dogs that have ulcers should avoid Meloxicam.
Dogs with kidney problems, liver problems, or heart problems should not take Meloxicam either. Dogs with borderline kidney function could go into renal failure from the drug, dogs that suffer from cardiovascular or renal conditions, dogs that are on a concomitant diuretic therapy, and dogs with hepatic dysfunction are not good candidates for Meloxicam.
Be sure to speak to your vet about any potential health concerns your dog may have, and give a good history of their past and current medical conditions, as well as current medications.
With a thorough history and background, your vet can properly assess whether or not Meloxicam is right for your dog in their current state of health. Over-the-counter drugs can also be a problem when taking Meloxicam, so make sure your vet knows about any of those your dog may be taking as well.
And as a final precautionary note, never give your dog Meloxicam if they are already taking another NSAID, such as aspirin, Rimadyl, or Deramaxx.
Signs of Toxicity or Overdose of Meloxicam for Dogs
It is easy to overdose your dog on Meloxicam if you are not careful to give them the dosage prescribed by your vet. When a dog experiences toxic levels of a drug like Meloxicam, they may display a variety of symptoms.
These symptoms include:
- Fast and labored breathing
- Stools that are dark and resemble tar
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- An increase in urinating
- An increase in thirst
- Uncoordinated movements
- Lethargy and drowsiness
- Loss of consciousness
- Gums that are pale
- Behavior changes
Unfortunately, an overdose of an NSAID drug like Meloxicam can be fatal if it isn’t swiftly and immediately treated, so it’s important that you treat a suspected overdose like an emergency, and get your dog to a veterinary hospital as soon as you can.
Alternatives to Meloxicam for Dogs
If your dog simply will not tolerate NSAID medications like Meloxicam, you can try alternative medications instead. In some cases, Tylenol could be prescribed, although many vets shy away from administering it due to the narrow margin of error when it comes to accurately dosing your dog. It is very easy for a dog to accidentally overdose on Tylenol. However, if it is prescribed by your vet, it can be effective.
In some cases, dogs that suffer pain related to neuropathic conditions, and dogs that experience chronic pain, see some success with taking gabapentin daily. Gabapentin is an anti-seizure medication that appears to also help with pain management. However, gabapentin is a drug that seems to work more efficiently when combined with other pain medications, so that is something to consider.
NMDA antagonist is another drug that appears to be most efficient when combined with other pain medications. Its effectiveness appears to be somewhat limited however, and mostly appears to help dogs that suffer from neuropathic pain the most.
Sometimes your vet may choose to prescribe narcotics such as codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, tramadol, fentanyl, or buprenorphine, especially when the pain is severe and other medications don’t appear to be strong enough to control it. Though narcotics are typically given in hospital situations only, occasionally they may be prescribed as pills or patches to administer at home.
Steroids are sometimes also prescribed for managing pain in dogs, especially when it comes to spinal pain. However, steroids come with a hefty set of side effects, and may not play well with other medications your dog is on. So, they are definitely not a first choice, despite their effectiveness.
Natural Alternatives to Manage Your Dog’s Pain
Sometimes, prescription or OTC medications simply will not agree with your pet. In other cases, you may be unwilling to give your dog pain medications such as Meloxicam for your own personal reasons. When that is the case, you may choose to turn to more natural and alternative solutions.
Acupuncture is a Chinese therapy that has been passed down through the ages, and used for both humans and animals alike with quite a bit of success when it comes to managing and treating pain.
This is especially true for pain that is chronic or long-term, such as osteoarthritis or some other degenerative bone and joint conditions. When acupuncture is practiced regularly, it can be a very effective holistic therapy that will help keep your dog pain-free and feeling young and spry for years to come.
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Just remember, not all dogs respond in the same way to medications. Every dog is different, and only you know your canine the best. Because there are some side effects of Meloxicam for dogs, it may not be the most ideal option for your situation.
Discuss your dog’s treatment plan with your vet, that’s what they are there for. Experiment with dosages and medications if necessary, and do your best to figure out a method of managing pain that works well for you and your dog.