Carprofen Is an Anti-Inflammatory Drug for Dogs

Veterinarians may prescribe this drug for dogs with chronic osteoarthritis pain and other inflammatory problems.


Carprofen for dogs is a prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) veterinarians prescribe to treat joint pain and inflammation from injuries and arthritis, as well as post-operative pain. It was originally sold as Rimadyl, but now many generic brands exist. As with any NSAID, chronic usage. such as in treating arthritis, can lead to ulcers in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

The incidence of GI side effects is low but can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lack of appetite

Additional Side Effects

Although rare, carprofen can cause liver failure, which is why liver enzyme values should be monitored when a dog is on the medication for a long time. The reported rate of this adverse effect is low, about 0.05%. Carprofen also may make some dogs sleepy.

Cautions with Carprofen

Carprofen can be given to dogs as young as 6 weeks old but should not be used in dogs who have a bleeding disorder or a known intolerance to other NSAIDs. Carprofen should be used with caution in dogs with gastrointestinal disease, liver disease, and kidney disease. It should not be used in conjunction with any steroid.

Overdosage of carprofen can cause gastrointestinal effects (vomiting, diarrhea, ulceration) and liver and kidney damage. An overdose requires immediate consultation with a veterinary poison control hotline and a trip to the nearest veterinary emergency clinic. At the clinic, treatments could include induction of vomiting, administration of activated charcoal, and intravenous fluid therapy.

Carprofen is useful for dogs in pain, and it is a good economic option for dog owners because of the availability of generic forms. Carprofen is available for oral dosing and for injection.