Posted by Pet Honesty on

Is Rimadyl Bad for Dogs?

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It's hard to see your dog in discomfort. When their tail droops, so do yours–metaphorically speaking, of course!  

But you also recognize that every prescription drug carries its side effects. It may alleviate one symptom but cause one or two more. This may be the case for the medication Rimadyl. Some dogs can take it without complications, but others experience adverse reactions.

It's essential to conduct thorough research and speak to your vet to identify the best course of action for your pooch. In this article, we'll cover the basics of Rimadyl, from its uses and past controversies to side effects and alternative treatments that may be just as successful–all to correctly answer the question, "Is Rimadyl bad for dogs?".

What is Rimadyl?

Tylenol is a well-known name for the active ingredient acetaminophen, and Rimadyl is a common denomination for carprofen. This analgesic is designed to reduce pain and is categorized in the class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

Carprofen, the pharmaceutical behind Rimadyl, was initially developed for humans and used in medical practice from 1985 to 1995. Once it was removed from human use, tests were done on dogs with generally positive outcomes. Compared to other human NSAIDs like aspirin or ibuprofen, Rimadyl is considered a safer choice for canines.

History of Rimadyl

When it was initially released in the 1990s, Rimadyl created a stir as advertisements showed dogs moving freely and easily after taking the drug. Pet owners everywhere sought out the medicine, hoping it would offer the same relief to their elderly or unwell pets.

Reports of horrific side effects and even death linked to Rimadyl caused advertisements for the drug to cease abruptly. Shattered pet owners called for the medication to be eradicated from veterinarian use, yet their voices went unheard. The ads ultimately fizzled out, but that didn't resolve the ongoing issues associated with Rimadyl's controversial past.

Many pet owners were infuriated that they weren't provided with an adequate warning about the potential dangers of Rimadyl. Without notice, their beloved canine companions started exhibiting symptoms such as vomiting, stomach ruptures, and seizures.

Although some canine patients experience drastic reactions to Rimadyl, the drug continues to be regularly prescribed due to the relief it brings for those who don't. Over four million dogs in the US have been given this medication, and many more overseas. Despite its troubling side effects, this powerful drug remains widely used.

How is Rimadyl Used?

Rimadyl is often given to relieve joint issues, hip dysplasia, and post-surgery recovery. This powerful anti-inflammatory medication is prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms associated with these conditions.


Post-Surgery Recovery

After a surgical procedure, dogs may require additional care while they recover. Rimadyl and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed to help alleviate discomfort and reduce inflammation associated with the surgery. Once your canine friend is fully healed and no longer in pain, the vet will discontinue this medication.

Typical Doses of Rimadyl for Dogs

When it comes to Rimadyl dosage, the size and weight of your pup and its condition should be considered. Rimadyl usually comes in 25mg, 75mg, 100mg capsules, or chewable tablets. It is important to consult your vet to determine the best dosage for your pup, which may involve splitting the dose up and administering it twice a day. Remember not to exceed the recommended dosage even when it seems like it could help ease discomfort – safety must come first for any animal undergoing treatment.

Common Side Effects of Rimadyl for Dogs

It's best to consider alternative treatments for your pup if they are at risk of having severe reactions to carprofen or Rimadyl. This discomfort medication can have several adverse effects, so it is important to look for an alternative solution that won't put your pup in danger.

Diarrhea or constipation: It's essential to monitor your pup's bowel movements when they first start taking Rimadyl. If the wet stool is present or your dog has difficulty relieving itself, it may indicate something more serious beneath the surface.

Black, tarry, or bloody stool: If your pup's stool appears black, tarry, or bloody in any way, this could signify something more serious. It is vital to check on their droppings and keep their routine the same if this occurs more than once. If it continues, it's best to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible to investigate the cause and rule out anything harmful.

Vomiting: It is a normal occurrence in dogs; however, if it happens more than once since being administered Rimadyl chewable tablets, it could be a sign of an underlying issue. The drug is taken orally. Thus, effects and side effects are typically rooted in the gastrointestinal system. If your pup's digestive tract is disrupted by something, one of their first lines of defense may be to vomit whatever may be causing the irritation.


Fatigue or weakness: A slight decline in energy and physical activity is normal with age. However, if your pup's energy levels or movement decrease significantly, it could be due to an adverse reaction to Rimadyl. Suppose they no longer show interest in playing, or their movement becomes much slower than before. In that case, the drug does not help their digestive system and impacts their energy levels.

Abdominal Discomfort: Abdominal discomfort is a possible side effect of Rimadyl for some dogs and may present itself through various signs. You may observe your dog curled up in a "fetal" position, protecting its stomach, as well as heavy breathing, apathy, crying, or whimpering. Additionally, you might notice a bloated stomach. You must consult your veterinarian immediately if any of these symptoms are observed.

Urinary abnormalities: If you observe any anomalies in your pet's urine, such as an altered shade, smell, or even the number of times they go potty, the Rimadyl may be affecting their urinary tract.

Jaundice: Is your pup exhibiting yellowish skin, gums, or eyes? This could be a sign of jaundice caused by inadequate amounts of bilirubin (an orange-yellow pigment) produced or eliminated by red blood cells. While there are numerous reasons your dog may have jaundice, one possible culprit could be an adverse reaction to a newly prescribed medication.

Liver or kidney problems: Kidney and liver issues are uncommon but must be taken seriously. Identifying malfunctions within these organs can be tricky, yet specific indicators exist. Jaundice, as stated before, is one such warning sign. As canines have limited methods to express when something isn't right, many of the above symptoms may indicate a kidney or liver problem.

Seizures: Seizures can be terrifying for owners to witness. They may cause your pup to suddenly collapse, jerk their legs, become immobile, drool heavily, or foam around the mouth.

If your pup starts having a seizure, do your best to remain calm, and talk to them in a gentle voice. Move them away from hard objects like furniture that could hurt them. Keep a record of how long the seizure lasts–if it goes on for more than a few minutes, it might start to get too hot, so make sure you have a fan running and place cold water on their paws. 

If the seizure pursues for more than five minutes or they experience multiple seizures while unconscious, be sure to take them to the vet. Furthermore, they may struggle with breathing if the seizure doesn't subside. If this happens, remember that the dog can sense what you’re feeling, so stay calm, take deep breaths and speak slowly to them, as they can pick up on your emotions.

Alternatives to Rimadyl for Dogs

It is understandable why many pet owners are interested in alternative treatments for joint issues, hip dysplasia, and post-surgery recovery when considering the potential side effects of taking NSAIDs. Consulting with your veterinarian before making any drastic changes to your pup's daily routine is always advised. That being said, we have compiled a list of helpful tips that can improve your dog's life and may also lessen or eliminate their need for NSAIDs.


Check your dog's diet: We typically think about medications which are usually measured in milligrams, yet we often overlook the influence of food, measured in kilograms–a much more significant amount than the medicine. Dogs usually do best on diets rich in animal proteins like meat and raw bones, accompanied by fresh fruits and veggies. Certain breeds of dogs may be able to eat grains, like wheat, soy, and corn, without issue. However, these processed foods can cause digestive problems for other pups. This can lead to increased inflammation and joint pain. If you believe your canine is having an adverse reaction to their grain-based food, try eliminating it from their diet for at least one month and observe any improvements. You can always reintroduce the grains and monitor your pup's response afterward.

Consider Physical Therapy: If authorized by your veterinarian, you could look for a canine physical therapist in your vicinity. These experts utilize tailored stretches and aquatic treadmills specifically designed for dogs to reduce pain and enhance their range of motion. 


Build a Comfortable Home: As humans, we often overlook the size difference between ourselves and our furry friends. Navigating furniture, beds, stairs, and vehicles can be challenging for older dogs due to reduced mobility. To help ease the strain on their joints, adding ramps and steps throughout your home can make life much easier for your pup.

Final Words

Answering the question "Is Rimadyl bad for dogs?" is not as straightforward as a simple yes or no. It's crucial to remember that each pup is unique, and if yours has an adverse reaction to Rimadyl, several alternatives are available. Consulting with your veterinarian should be the first step, followed by trying different methods to keep your furry friend happy and comfortable.