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NSAIDs for Dogs: Understanding the Benefits and Risks

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed medications for dogs to help manage pain and inflammation. As a pet owner, it's essential to understand how NSAIDs work, their potential benefits, and the risks associated with their use. 

In this blog, we'll discuss the basics of NSAIDs for dogs, including common uses, potential side effects, and tips for administering them safely.

What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs are a class of medications that provide pain relief, reduce inflammation, and lower fever by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that contribute to inflammation and pain. 

These drugs are commonly used in both human and veterinary medicine, with some specifically formulated for dogs. Human NSAIDs include medications such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Naproxen (Aleve). However, it is extremely important to know that you cannot give human NSAIDs to dogs. 

This is because human NSAIDs work differently than canine NSAIDs. There are two different types of prostaglandins, one of which causes pain and inflammation while the other  is involved in important processes in the body. Human NSAIDs block both types, but canine NSAIDs block only the kind that cause pain and inflammation. Since dogs are much more susceptible to the side effects from NSAIDs, taking human NSAIDs is very dangerous for them. This is why it is important that they only receive canine-specific NSAIDs. 

Common NSAIDs for Dogs

Several NSAIDs are specifically designed for dogs and have been approved by the FDA for use in canines. Some of the most commonly prescribed NSAIDs for dogs include:

  • Carprofen, available as:
  • Meloxicam, available as:
  • Deracoxib, available as:
    • Deramaxx: Formulated as chewable tablets
    • OstiMax: Formulated as chewable tablets
    • Doxidyl: Formulated as chewable tablets
  • Firocoxib, available as:
    • Previcox: Formulated as chewable tablets
  • Grapiprant, available as:
    • Galliprant: A newer type of canine NSAID, sold in tablet form

It's important to note that human NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, should not be given to dogs, as they can be toxic and lead to severe complications.

Uses of NSAIDs in Dogs

NSAIDs are prescribed for various conditions in dogs, including:

  • Osteoarthritis: NSAIDs help manage chronic pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, improving mobility and quality of life.
  • Acute pain and inflammation: NSAIDs can be used to manage pain and inflammation following surgery, injury, or dental procedures.
  • Other inflammatory conditions: NSAIDs may be prescribed for other inflammatory conditions, such as tendonitis or certain autoimmune diseases.

Potential Side Effects and Risks

While NSAIDs can provide significant benefits for dogs, they also carry some risks and potential side effects, including:

  • Gastrointestinal issues: NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
  • Kidney and liver problems: Prolonged use or high doses of NSAIDs can lead to kidney or liver damage.
  • Bleeding disorders: NSAIDs may interfere with blood clotting, increasing the risk of bleeding.

If your dog is prescribed an NSAID, it's crucial to monitor their health closely for any signs of side effects or complications. Keep an eye out for any changes in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or increased thirst and urination. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Administering NSAIDs Safely

Follow these tips to administer NSAIDs safely to your dog:

  • Consult your veterinarian: Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication, including NSAIDs. Your vet will determine the appropriate dosage and treatment plan based on your dog's age, weight, and overall health.
  • Follow instructions carefully: Administer the medication as directed by your veterinarian, ensuring that you provide the correct dosage and follow the recommended treatment schedule.
  • Do not give human NSAIDs: As mentioned earlier, human NSAIDs can be toxic to dogs. Always use veterinary-approved NSAIDs specifically formulated for dogs.
  • Watch for drug interactions: Inform your veterinarian about any other medications or supplements your dog is taking, as NSAIDs can interact with other drugs.


NSAIDs can be an effective tool for managing pain and inflammation in dogs, but it's essential to use them responsibly and under the guidance of a veterinarian. 

By understanding the benefits and risks associated with NSAIDs, you can help ensure your dog receives the appropriate treatment while staying safe.

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