Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are drugs with analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-pyretic (fever reducing) properties. In higher dosages, they are able to suppress inflammation as well. Being nonsteroidal means that they are used as an alternative for steroid-based medications such as cortisone that also have the same properties. The most popular examples of NSAIDs are aspirin and ibuprofen.
NSAIDs are able to reduce pain and inflammation by inhibiting the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. In veterinary medicine, there are two kinds of NSAIDS: the new ones and the traditional NSAIDs. The difference between the two is that the former only inhibits COX-2 prostaglandin while the latter inhibits both COX-1 and COX-2 prostaglandins.
Although prostaglandins are the main culprits for joint inflammation especially in arthritic patients, these enzymes are necessary for important bodily processes to run smoothly. In fact, COX-1 prostaglandin helps maintain the proper blood flow in the renal and gastrointestinal systems. The enzyme also contributes to blood platelet integrity. As a result, the unmonitored used of NSAIDs can have adverse effects on the body.
NSAIDs and Dog Arthritis
Since there is no cure for dog arthritis, treatments are administered to control the progression and the symptoms of the disease. In this sense, NSAIDs are given to arthritic dogs in order to alleviate the pain and suppress the inflammation in the affected joints. The following are NSAIDs approved by the FDA (The Food and Drug Administration) and the CVM (Center for Veterinary Medicine) that can be given to dogs:
Rimadyl (Carprofen). Rimadyl, manufactured by Pfizer Animal Health, is an NSAID used to relieve symptoms of dog arthritis and in many post-operative patients. Rimadyl only inhibits COX-2 and other pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, and does not interfere with the functions of COX-1. Although most dogs respond well to Rimadyl, there have been a lot of anecdotal records of sudden deaths blamed on the drug. Hence, the FDA advised Pfizer to include death in their possible list of side effects. However, clinical trials and laboratory tests done showed that most test dogs responded safely and effectively to the drug.
Metacam (Meloxicam). The drug is most used to treat arthritic dogs; however, it has been used to treat cattle, cats, and exotic pets even though this is not indicated in the label. As a result, the FDA had sent a notice of violation for promoting off-label use. Metacam has been observed to inhibit more the effects of COX-2 than COX-1 prostaglandin, especially in low doses.
Previcoxx (Firocoxib). The NSAID belongs to the COXIB class; therefore, it only inhibits COX-2 prostaglandin. It is advisable not to use Previcoxx for dogs less than seven pounds, geriatric dogs, dogs with platelet problems, and dogs having organ problems.
Aspirin. The drug is also known as acetylsalicylic acid or ASA. Aspirin is mainly used for its analgesic, antipyretic, and anti-inflammatory properties. In veterinary medicine, it has been used to alleviate the symptoms of dog arthritis. However, it is no longer recommended. It has been observed that dogs are susceptible to gastrointestinal damage associated with Aspirin use.
Deramaxx (Deracoxib). The drug, an NSAID belonging to the COXIB class, is used to control the pain and inflammation caused by dog arthritis. Unfortunately, the drug has gained some level of infamy since a 2005 FDA record shows that 51,000 animals have died because of Deramaxx side effects. As a precautionary measure, the drug is not used for arthritic dogs under 6.3 kilograms.
NSAID Side Effects
When your dog is being administered with NSAIDs, it is important to observe for the following side effects:
- Changes in eating and drinking habits (not eating or eating less)
- Changes in the bowel movement (black tarry-colored stool)
- Changes in behavior (has become lethargic, irritable, or aggressive)
- Signs of jaundice (yellowing of the gums, skin, or the whites of the eyes)
- Changes in skin (redness, scabs, or continuous scratching)
If any of these side effects are observed, immediately stop administering the prescribed NSAID. As soon as possible have your dog checked by your vet. Another thing you can do is to call the pharmaceutical company. In all FDA approved NSAIDs, a toll free number of the manufacturer is usually printed on the label. If the company cannot be notified, you can also inform veterinary ADE (Adverse Drug Experiences).
When the intake of NSAIDs in dogs is not monitored correctly, it may result in the following: (1) gastrointestinal damage, (2) kidney and liver failure, (3) excessive bleeding, (4) decreased blood production (red, white, and platelets), and (5) decreased bone healing.
If you are not comfortable with NSAIDs, there are many alternative treatments that can be used. For dog arthritis pain and inflammation relief free from NSAIDs, you can choose a combination of natural, non-prescription and prescription medicines.
For natural pain relief for dogs, you can explore herbal concoctions made of plant extracts known to have analgesic properties.
With non-prescription arthritis remedies for dogs, supplements containing chondroitin, glucosamine and omega 3 fatty acids are the most popular. Most non-prescription arthritis remedies also use natural ingredients. An omega-3 supplement is a good example.
Prescription pain killers can help a lot. They can be used short or long term and can make a huge difference to your dogs quality of life, especially if the NSAIDs are not being used.
You can visit my blog for more information on dog arthritis and the options available. You can also download my free e-book from my blog which goes into more detail on the side effects of dog arthritis medication.
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