The Senior Dogs Project
"Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog."
Years 2000 - 2001
The following reports are examples of the conditions under which side effects from Rimadyl occurred and the nature of the side effects. Please note that side effects occur in almost every breed and at almost any age (although incidence in older dogs is greater); adverse reactions occur anywhere from after the first dose to months later.
To report an ADE to Pfizer, call: 1-800-366-5288. ADE's should also always be reported to the FDA at: 1-888-332-8387 (or 1-888-FDA-VETS). For step-by-step instructions, click on "If You Suspect Your Dog Has Had an Adverse Reaction to Rimadyl" in the navigation bar at the left.
In April 2000, the Senior Dogs Project ceased accepting reports of experiences with Rimadyl. With the appearance of the March 13, 2000, Wall Street Journal article, Pfizer's distribution of a new consumer information sheet, and additional widespread information campaigns, it seemed our goal of informing consumers by presenting experiential reports had been reached.
If you would like your voice to be heard, we suggest the following alternatives:
Reports on adverse experiences should be made to Pfizer and to the FDA. Please see the page, linked from the navigation bar at the left, entitled "If You Suspect Your Dog Has Had an Adverse Reaction to Rimadyl." To join the internet-based Rimadyl ADE support group and the B.A.R.K.S. (Be Aware of Rimadyl's Known Side Effects) campaign, use the navigation bar at the left and click on "Doghealth2 E-mail List."
We again thank everyone who has contributed a report to srdogs. Each of you has helped further the cause of making information about Rimadyl more widely available. In some instances, we have received messages from people who say their dogs' lives were saved by information on the srdogs website. You who have contributed your reports surely have their special gratitude.
New Reports with New Insights
Although the Senior Dogs Project ceased accepting reports of Rimadyl's adverse effects in April 2000, the following incidents were brought to our attention after that time that we felt provided new and significant insights:
Dog Reacts Negatively to Both Rimadyl and EtoGesic
3/1/01 -- "I have a 7 year-old Weimeraner. She has had two ACL surgeries and also has had a cervical disc removed. We had her on Rimadyl from August 2000 to October 2000. She had blood work in October prior to her neck surgery, which showed elevated liver enzymes. She just recently, January 2001, had left knee surgery. After surgery, she was put on EtoGesic. Blood work was done first, and it was normal. She was on EtoGesic for three weeks and additional blood work was performed. The results were elevated liver enzymes. She also experienced loose stools and a small seizure the day after she was taken off the medication. She had never had a seizure in the past. We will never give her either one of these drugs again and would advise anyone considering the use of either drug to proceed with caution." LEWCREW33@aol.com
Dog Who Suffered Rimadyl Toxicity and Was to Be Euthanized in 1997 Celebrates 16th Birthday
7/13/00 -- The Senior Dogs Project received word today that Barney, a 13-year-old Springer Spaniel mix who was diagnosed with Rimadyl toxicity in the summer of 1997 and slated for euthanasia, just celebrated his16th birthday. Barney had been on Rimadyl for 25 days when he was taken to the vet for classic signs of toxicity -- inappetance, vomiting, blood and glucose in his urine, and sky-high liver enzymes. The vet said she suspected cancer or cirrhosis of the liver and recommended euthanasia.
Barney's guardian reported: "I asked my vet three times during his illness and slow recovery, if he could be having a reaction to the Rimadyl. Each time she said 'no.' " Barney's guardian wonders, "How many dogs were euthanized needlessly as Barney would have been, had I taken my vet's word as gospel? How many dogs died from Rimadyl with the cause noted on the record as 'old age, liver failure,' etc.?"
More details on Barney's case.
Is Rimadyl Being Prescribed Excessively and Too Easily? GSD Loses Motor Control When Rimadyl Is Substituted for Proper Diagnosis
7/11/00 -- "I wanted to relay our experience with Rimadyl, because I believe that it may exemplify an overuse of Rimadyl by some veterinarians today. My first-born German Shepherd, Frank, is 11 years old and has always had a slight case of arthritis in his back hips. It has never been cause for concern, however. A couple of months ago, he started crying during the night from pain. We took him to the vet, who, assumming it was his arthritis acting up, examined him briefly, took one X-ray, and prescribed Rimadyl.
"After one dose of the Rimadyl, Frank lost control of most of the right side of his body, particularly his front paw. We took him off of the Rimadyl and he slowly regained use of his right side, but the pain did not go away. Eventually, he started again to have trouble walking. We took him to a different vet (an angel of mercy), who determined right away that it was not his arthritis that was giving him trouble, but, instead, a slipped disk in his neck. Long story short, Frank had surgery and is almost back to his old self in just a few weeks.
"So, if you have an older dog who is experiencing pain, be sure to have your vet check him or her out thoroughly; or see more than one vet. Had Frank been properly examined and diagnosed early on, he would have had an easier recovery and would never have had to experience the terrible side effects of the Rimady."
Report submitted by: firstname.lastname@example.org
Three-Year-Old Golden Was Thought to be "Home Free" after 1 1/2 Years on Rimadyl....
Side Effects Warnings Initially Dismissed as "Internet Hysteria"......
Pfizer Agrees Dog Suffered Initial Stages of Toxic Reaction, Despite Normal Blood Panels
6/8/00 -- "Cassie, our 13-year-old, 75-lb. Golden Retreiver was diagnosed with arthritis and placed on Rimadyl about 1 1/2 years ago. She began taking two 75mg tablets per day for the first two weeks and then a single tablet daily. I inquired about the side effects and long-term use and was advised that the known side-effects were very rare. My vet recommended a blood panel, which came back normal, and we proceeded with the medication. During this time, my wife found Rimadyl warnings on the Internet, which I wrote off to Internet hysteria.
"About a year after Cassie began taking Rimadyl, she started to have bouts of diarrhea, which I attributed to old age and a change in her food. In January 2000, we had another blood panel completed and, again, it was normal. However, about a month ago, I noticed other symptoms: loss of appetite (and normally she could eat a tire!), lethargy, panting more heavily than normal and having difficulty walking, especially in her hind quarters. We began to suspect that Rimadyl might be the cause, and I stopped her daily dose. It didn't seem to make a difference, and so, after several days, I made an appointment with our vet. On the basis of her January blood panel,which was normal, and since it appeared that she was in athritic pain, instead of withdrawing Rimadyl, the vet recommended that I increase the dose to 150mgs per day.
"After a week of being on 150mg daily, Cassie was extremely lethargic, had lost almost all interest in food and could hardly stand or walk. I was extremely upset, as I thought that old age was finally taking its toll, and we were about to lose her. But I referred to the "Adverse Reactions" section of the srdogs website, and, again, suspecting a Rimadyl reaction, I immediately stopped the drug. It was the Memorial Day weekend, so we decided to visit our summer cabin and, fearing for the worst, allow Cassie one last time to visit her favorite spots that we both had shared for so many years. The day of the trip, I had another blood panel drawn to see if, in fact, there was any evidence of liver abnormality or Rimadyl toxicity.
"On Tuesday, four days after I ceased the Rimadyl, Cassie began to regain her interest in food, was able to walk better and seemed to be more like her old self. That morning, the vet called to say the blood panel was normal. At that point, a call was made to the Pfizer 800 line and a candid conversation with their vet seemed to confirm that, despite the normal blood panel, Cassie was suffering from an adverse reaction to Rimadyl.
"Now, one week later, Cassie's appetite is voracious, she can walk with little problem, stand without losing her balance, and her deep panting has subsided. Although she's far from being a young dog, her quality of life has improved tremendously. I am certain that, had I continued the Rimadyl, her condition would have deteriorated very quickly, and she may have suffered permanent damage -- or worse. We have reverted to a vigilant aspirin regime, continued her MSM/chondroitin/glucosamine supplements and the usual light exercise.
"I'm grateful to the Senior Dogs Project for alerting us to the perils of Rimadyl. Despite a fairly well-informed vet and a pro-active pet owner, close calls of this kind can STILL happen. I think that pet owners want that miraculous cure for their much-loved animals and that, unfortunately, there are unscrupulous > companies that take full advantage of this.
"I want to emphasize that Cassie was on Rimadyl for over a year and a half with few symptoms. I think the vet and I both had a false sense of security, thinking that, after such a long time on Rimadyl, Cassie was 'out of the woods.' We thought she would continue to tolerate the medication for the foreseeable future."
Report submitted by: email@example.com
Rimadyl Increasingly and Indiscriminately Being Used for Simple Pain Relief....
Months after Distribution to Veterinarians, Still No Consumer Information Sheets or Side Effects Warnings Being Given to Clients.....
Necropsy Report Clearly Shows Young Chow Died of Rimadyl Reaction Four Days after Starting the Drug
5/30/00 -- "Yesterday I lost the light of my life to Rimadyl. Cinnabar was a 6.5-years-young, 45-pound, healthy, purebred red Chow. She had been taken to the vet because she had a stiff rear leg from vigorous running. The vet recommended she be put on Rimadyl, 37.5 mg, every 12 hours, to be given with food. After three doses, it was clear this medication was not good for her. The next two days she was given Pepto-Bismol (as per vet's instruction) to calm her digestive system. She was getting weaker and having trouble walking, so I rushed her to the vet where she died about three hours later. She was so young and had never been sick in her life. She went into the vet with a sore leg and died four days later.
From the necropsy report: "The intestinal mucosa including the lumenal cell and crypt cells were necrotic. The denuded surface was covered by rod shaped bacteria. Lymphatics were filled with gas or endema fluid. There was hemorrhage in the wall of the intestine. Bridging areas of coagulative necrosis were present in the liver. Multifocal aggregates of lymphocytes were observed in the edematous gastric mucosa. The spleen was depleted, edematous, and hemorrhagic."
"As it was described to me, Cinnabar's intestines were perforated and that allowed bacteria to get into the body cavity and caused significant damage. The liver was similarly damaged as was her spleen. Given a normal, healthy animal, the appearnce of these symptoms coincident with taking Rimadyl makes the causal relationship clear."
Report submitted by: Jreed0301@aol.com
"Build-up" of Toxicity May Be a Factor in Adverse Reaction with Some Dogs
6/15/00 -- "Having lost two dogs who were on Rimadyl at the time of their death, and having had a too-close-for-comfort episode with a third dog, I would like to comment about Rimadyl and its impact on older dogs....or at least older Shelties. In ALL cases with my dogs, they showed an improvement in mobility the first week....without exception. Two of the three seemed almost like puppies again. So, the initial reaction was quite positive. Then, the side effects set in! It appears to me that the chemical impact of Rimadyl on some dogs is cumulative and additive. While relief from arthritis (and related conditions) seems to come fairly quickly, in my dogs I observed that it took a period of time for Rimadyl to build-up to toxic levels. In the case of Marcus, my third and only surviving Sheltie, I could see the toxic levels reaching a 'reaction' point, and also observed the gradual lessening of toxicity after removing him from the medication."
Report submited by: firstname.lastname@example.org
4/14/00 -- Case #121: Symptoms of Cushings Confused with Rimadyl Reaction
"I was blaming all my pet's problems on Rimadyl, and I have since found out she has Cushings. Many of the symptoms are the same, and I delayed the proper treatment for her by thinking Rimadyl was the cause. I even took her off the Rimadyl and she was in pain without it. This might help someone else." (Editor's note: Increased water consumption and urination, excessive panting, and weakness are three cllinical signs of Cushing's that are also common in an adverse reaction to Rimadyl.)
4/11/00 -- Case #120: How Often Is Rimadyl a Precursor to AIHA? Another Case Reported
"My dog was diagnosed today with hemolytic anemia, following a week-long dose of Rimadyl. She stopped eating and became lethargic almost immediately. Her Coombs test came back positive, and, after reading the other cases on your site, I thought I would tell you that it has happened again. This came on very quickly; my dog is an otherwise very healthy nine-year-old Terrier mix (perhaps part Schnauzer) named Murphy. My original vet did no pre-Rimadyl blood work, and, if I hadn't consulted the Internet, I would probably still be giving it to her." (Ed. note: A number of cases of AIHA are posted on the Rimadyl page on this website; the Rimadyl package insert also notes auto-immune hemolytic anemia as a hematologic adverse reaction.")
4/9/00 -- Case #119: Acepromazine & Rimadyl Used Together Following Neuter Surgery; Puppy Has Seizures
"I have a Poodle mix puppy, born 8-01-99. I had him neutered 3-23-00. Without my knowledge, they administered Acepromazine and then prescribed Rimadyl for him twice a day for two days. The night of his surgery, at 11:00 p.m., I gave him 1/2 pill of Rimadyl. At 3:15 a.m., I awoke to his having Grand Mall seizures in clusters. I did not give him any more Rimadyl. He had another set of seizures at 7:10 a.m. and another at 4:15 p.m. I am not sure whether the Rimadyl or the Acepromazine caused the seizures; one of them did. My dog had never had a seizure before, and I am with him all day; he even goes to work with me." (Editor's note: Acepromazine seems to increase the likelihood of a seizure in dogs with existing seizure disorders. How it interacts with Rimadyl, for which seizures are noted as a potential side effect, is not known.)
3/29/00 -- Case #118: Petite-mal Seizure in 4-year-old Boxer Following Four Days on Rimadyl
Breed: Boxer (male, "Bo")
Age: 4 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: arthritis of one hind leg
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 88 lbs. 75mg 2xday
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 4th day
Symptoms: siezures petite-mal, vomitting
Date of episode: Feb. 12, 2000
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? We were not informed of these potenial side-effects
Dog's current condition: no further episodes of seizures since the rimadyl was stopped
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: The symptoms of the arthritis were basically relieved immediately after taking the Rimadyl. The seizures were a petite mal type lasting approximately 30 seconds. The dog's neck would appear to be in spasm and his eyes rolled up in his head.The vomiting occurred the third day into the medication regime.We discontinued the Rimadyl on our own. We now give him asprin as needed for his symptoms of arthritis
3/27/00 -- Case #117: Two Samoyeds Have Different Reactions to Rimadyl; "Gekko" Nearly Dies
Breed: Samoyed (female, "Gekko")
Age: 11 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Severe arthritis in hip and back. Dog was having difficulty in getting up.
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 80 lbs. Don't know dose off hand. She now weights 63 lbs
When reaction occurred following initial dose: within 3 weeks
Symptoms: would not eat (and she LOVES food), lethargic, weight loss, looked very ill, coat dull
Date of episode: November 1999
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects?: No, although when the product first came to market he would not prescribe it until he saw how it performed. This was several years earlier. Apparently he had not seen any adverse effects until now.
Dog's current condition:. Recovered, although we watch her closely. On a boarding at my vet, I asked them to test her as she blowing her winter coat like she never had before. Her white blood cells were off and they put her on antibotics.
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: My 11-year-old Samoyed was put on Rimadyl last November after I inquired with my vet about its value. A neighbor had her 14-year-old Samoyed on it and swore it had extended his life by at least 3 years. My vet had no information regarding any adverse reactions. His drug representative denies any problems to this date. My Samoyed, Gekko, was on Rimadyl for about three weeks when she quit eating, became very lethargic and began dropping weight very rapidly. She weighed 80 lbs when she started Rimadyl. She dropped to almost 60 lbs in less than a week. Upon returning home on a Friday night, I was alarmed when she did not meet me. My husband said he thought she was sick. Schedule conflict kept me from taking her to the vet Saturday morning. On Sunday, she was lying in the yard looking like she was waiting to die. I rushed her the emergency vet clinic in my area. Blood work showed signs of significantly elevated liver and kidney enzymes, and her white blood cell count was off. They put her on IVs and began antibiotic treatments. The vet told me she would not live through the week. On Monday, she was transferred to my regular vet. They kept her on IVs and antibiotics for the entire week. At the end of the week, she began to eat teaspoons of special kidney diet food. Although her recovery was slow, she made it. We all found it to be a miracle. My vet mentioned he suspected it was Rimadyl and advised against using it again. The Wall Street Journal article was the first I saw about this problem and the first my vet had seen. I have called the FDA and Pfizer directly to report this reaction. I feel very lucky to still have Gekko, but worry about what permanent damage Rimadyl has done. Perhaps I shortened her life rather than extended it. Overall, I am very disappointed not to have known what I know now. I am also disappointed that my vet had not been warned of its effects and his drug rep was denying any problems even after the Wall Street Journal article was published.
3/27/00 -- Case #116: Rimadyl Was "Electively" Used -- No Side Effects Information Provided; Severe Liver Damage Consistent with NSAID Reaction Is Diagnosed
Breed: German Shepherd (female, "Gertie")
Age: 8 when she took Rimadyl; 10 now
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Gertie would get stiff after she ran and played a lot
Dog's weight and dosage taken: Gertie is 100 lbs 100 mg, 2X's a day
When reaction occurred following initial dose: She took Rimadyl for 2 weeks in February of 1998 and then for a few weeks at the end of July and beginning of August. I stopped the medication because I discovered that it could be harmful to her.
Symptoms: She became very sick in the middle of August. She lost interest in her food. While they were trying to figure out what was wrong with her she got progressively worse. It was difficult to get her to eat anything and her eyes turned yellow due to the poor liver function. She was very tired and would not play. An ultra-sound-guided biopsy revealed that she had both old and new damage to her liver caused by a drug reaction. The specialist she saw said it was consistent with damage caused by Rimadyl.
Date of episode: August of 1998
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects?: Her symptoms were so severe that when I suggested Rimadyl as a possible problem the vet said that he didn't believe that Rimadyl could cause her condition. He thought she had liver cancer. We were never warned about the risks of Rimadyl. Had I been, I would not have given it to her, since her stiffness was not that severe.
Dog's current condition: After about 6 months, blood tests show that her liver function has returned to normal. She is now happy and healthy!
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: Gertie nearly died from a Rimadyl drug reaction in August 1998. We spent weeks not knowing whether she would live or die. Her symptoms came on quite suddenly. we got medical attention for her immediately, but we still spent severl weeks not knowing whether she would live or die. When a blood test was done, it was discovered that she had extremely elevated liver enzymes (35 times normal). At first, they thought she had liver cancer; but an ultra-sound-guided biopsy revealed that she had damage to her liver as a result of taking Rimadyl. She was immediatly put on medication, but there was uncertainty as to whether or not her liver would ever be the same. I am happy to say that, after about 6 months, her blood tests finally revealed that her liver had healed. Had we not taken her to the vet so quickly (after she missed just one meal, she really loves her food) or had we not had thousands of dollars to spend on her treatments, she would have died. The funny thing is that she really didn't need to take Rimadyl. At the time she started taking it, she was 8 years old. I mentioned to my vet that she sometimes got stiff after running a lot. Our vet recommended Rimadyl. He didn't give her a blood test to make sure her liver was strong enough to handle the drug. Our other German Shepherd, Zach ,also took Rimadyl for a while after having knee surgery. He never displayed any side effects from the drug, but, after what Gertie went through, I would never give that drug to him or any other dog again. I tell everyone who is thinking about putting their dog on Rimadyl my story so that they won't have to go through what we did.
3/26/00 -- Case #115: Dog Exhibits Uncharacteristic Aggressive Behavior Following Five Days on Rimadyl; Vet Had Never Documented an Adverse Reaction Prior to this Case
Breed: Border Collie/Lab mix (male, "Shadow")
Age: 9 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Bad hip from auto accident, 7 years ago
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 80 lbs, 50 mg twice daily
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 5 days later
Symptoms: vomiting, aggressive behavior towards son, attacked neighbor's dog
Date of episode: 3/26/00
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects?: Yes, we have an excellent Veterinarian, and she has yet to document an adverse effect from the use of this medication.
Dog's current condition: Fine, right now; taking him off, as I don't want to take any chances. Will be getting a blood work-up in 4 days to see if there's anything to be concerned about.
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: Shadow is a sweet Lab/Border Collie mix, and he gets excited when seeing other dogs, but he has NEVER been aggressive towards another animal in the 9 years we have owned him, until today. He bolted after a small neighborhood dog and acted as if he was going to kill it, chasing the poor thing around the block. Luckily, we were able to stop him before he got hold of the dog. He also threw up in the house today, three times, and snapped at our 6 year old, seemingly for no reason. None of these things prove that Rimadyl is doing Shadow harm, but I'm not going to take any chances, and will go in to see my Veterinarian this week.
3/21/00 -- Case #114: Dog Has Reaction After One Dose of Rimadyl
Breed: Golden Retriever Gender (female, "Wuffer")
Age: 8 years 9 months
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Pain from lump on right front foreleg
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 60lbs; one 75mg tablet
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 4 hours
Symptoms: vomitting (2 incidents), mucous discharge from eyes
Date of episode: 3/21/2000
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects?: May have been informed, but did not inform me of side effects.
Dog's current condition: alive, sleeping like a log
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: On 3/21/2000, at 11:30 a.m., I gave Wuffer one 75mg tablet of Rimadyl, as prescribed by my vet, in teaspoonful of peanut butter. At 3:30 p.m., she vomited a large amount of brown liquid and mucous. Also noticed mucous from her eyes. After approximately 10 minutes (while I cleaned up), she drank a large amount of water and laid down for a rest. At 4:00 p.m., I checked the web for info on Rimadyl. Learned that it is potentially fatal and that vomiting is one of the possible side effects. Obviously no more of this for Wuffer. Called vet, who agreed that she gets no more, and said they will make a note in her records. I asked if there was anything else I could do to help her recover; he recommended Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate, or milk of magnesia to sooth her stomach. At 4:30 p.m., I gave Wuffer two Pepto-Bismol tablets in a teaspoonful of peanut butter, which she ate with some enthusiasm.
4/6/00 -- Update to Case #114: Although Rimadyl may indeed have been the cause of Wuffer's symptoms, her vet mentioned another possibility. It turns out that the lump on her leg was a mast cell tumor, which according to the vet can release large amounts of histamine, causing all kinds of nasty symptoms, including those shown by Wuffer. He put her on IV fluid therapy, antihistamines, antibiotics, and something akin to peptobismol to coat her stomach. After two days of that, she had surgery to remove the lump, and a large sample was sent to a lab for biopsy. The lab confirmed that it was a mast cell tumor, and that it was not malignant, but were unable to determine whether or not it was benign. Apparently there's an in-between state, but the tissue was so necrotic that they couldn't be certain. The discouraging note is that, according to her vet, dogs with mast cell tumors in an inbetween state only have a 33% survival rate over 3 years. However, two weeks after the surgery, she is currently recovering nicely, although still bandaged and limping, but beginning to use her leg more and more. Whether or not it was the Rimadyl, it was definitely safer to get her off of it immediately.
3/21/00 -- Case #113: Vet Neither Advises of Side Effects nor Gives Directions to Discontinue Rimadyl, Despite Reports of Vomiting and Lethargy
Breed: Mixed -- German Shepherd, Malamute, and God only knows what else (female, "Chelsea")
Age: about 8 years (adopted at approx. age 6 from Animal Rescue)
Reason for Rimadyl rx: difficulty walking, pronounced limp
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 65 lbs.; dosage not specified
When reaction occurred following initial dose: not specified
Symptoms: vomiting, lethargy, shortness of breath; x-rays show liver abnormality
Date of episode: Chelsea has been taking Rimadyl off and on since 1998
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? Was never told Rimadyl had side effects, despite repeated refills of prescription -- especially that liver problems were possible side effects; specifically mentioned that Chelsea was vomiting and seemed very lethargic.
Dog's current condition: not specified
3/20/00 -- Case #112: Rimadyl Prescribed for Pain, Despite Previous History of Appetite Loss and Potential Liver Problems
"My 12-year-old Lab-mix, Satin, has just had surgery for a large growth on her elbow. The specialist who performed the surgery prescribed Rimady, and it was dispensed to me by my regular veterinary office with no information about side effects. This is in addition to the fact that I had just had Satin screened for liver problems less than two months ago, after a period of loss of appetite!! I was told that the Rimadyl would help with the pain, so I thought that it was just a pain medication. But I knew I had heard the name before -- and finally remembered that I had discussed it with my vet and that we had ruled it out for Satin because of the side effects. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are working wonderfully for my Satin. It may not be a miracle cure that has her acting like a puppy, but it won't kill her either. I cannot believe that vets are distributing this drug without realizing or advising what the side effects might be."
3/19/00 -- Case #111: Boxer Becomes Uncharacteristically Aggressive While on Rimadyl
"We have a seven-year-old Boxer who was placed on Rimadyl in January 2000 for arthritis. We had noticed that his behavior was somewhat different in the six weeks since he started the medication, but thought it was perhaps due to being uncomfortable with the arthritis and cold weather. There also was the issue of a new dog in the family (a 9 month old female boxer), which he had initially seemed to enjoy very much. After being on the Rrimadyl for a few weeks, he seemed very listless, and, when he was up and about, he seemed to have a terrible attitude. He has turned on the female several times for no apparent reason and fought with her and bit her. Our vet had not advised of these possible side effects."
3/15/00 -- Case #110: No Side Effects Warnings, No Pre-Screening Done; Wall Street Journal Article Alerts Dog's Guardian to Suspected ADE's
Breed: Cocker Spaniel (female, "Taffie")
Age: 13 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Initially, Taffie went to the vet for ear and eye problem. I casually mentioned that she was having difficulty jumping on the bed, and the attending vet suggested that we try Rimadyl.
Dog's weight and dosage taken: On 12/14/99 Taffie weighed 25 pounds; 25 mg of Rimadyl was dispensed.
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 2/25/00
Symptoms: vomiting, EXTREMELY lethargic, no food or treat intake, no water intake, few and unusual bowel movements, urination accidents
Date of episode: Initial onset was on 2/25/00
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects?: NO! NO! NO! I had no idea that the Rimadyl could have been the problem. When the Rimadyl was dispensed, there were no warnings provided, written or verbal, nor was a pre-screening performed. The medicine was dispensed in a regular medicine bottle with no product inserts included. When she first started vomiting, and I took Taffie to the vet on 2/25/00, he indicated a possible liver or kidney malfunction. Blood test were normal except for ALP=268, AMYL=2276 and PCV=40%. She was given SQ fluids, vomiting, antibiotic and steroid injections and sent home with additional injections for vomiting and antibiotics as well as pill form of metronidazole. On the night 3/2/00 she started vomiting again and was rushed to the vet the next morning, where he saw signs of jaundice and referred her to a special care clinic because he did not know what was causing the problem. Upon arriving at the special intensive care clining that afternoon, additional blood tests were performed with alarmingly high levels, ALKP=1200, ALT=251, TBIL=1.30 in addition to her being dangerously low, 29 x109/L. Still neither vet gave any indication that Taffie could be having an Adverse Drug Effect but merely attributed it possibly to old age.
Dog's current condition: In two months time, she lost five pounds. Taffie is doing much better, has resumed eating, and is not as lethargic as she was. She is still on medication and undergoies periodic blood tests, but we hope we have passed the critical stage. Tomorrow's blood test will tell. I am only thankful that I had the +$1K for her treatment.
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: After what I have read, I don't see how this drug could have ever been considered for animal use, and especially not human. Only after accidentally reading the front page article in the March 13, 2000, Wall Street Journal was I made aware of the Rimadyl nightmare. After a minimal search on the Internet, I found more than enough information to convince me beyond a reasonable doubt that Rimadyl was the cause of my companion's near-fatal experience -- not to mention the anguish I experienced and the tremendous expense I have incurred. It appears that neither my vet nor the specialist were aware of the risks of Rimadyl or the possibility of delayed ADE's. An effort should be made to ensure every vet is required by law to include product inserts and written and verbal warning to all consumers. It may be a "Wonder Drug" for arthritic dogs until the dog has an ADE, experiences severe liver damage and is eventually euthanized.
3/14/00 -- Case #109: Cirrhosis of Liver Shows Up after 1 1/2 Years on Rimadyl
Breed: Golden Retriever (female, "Amber")
Age: 13.5 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Arthritis in front shoulders
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 70lbs, 100g/day (50mg morning & 50 evening)
When reaction occurred following initial dose: Amber has been on Rimadyl for 1.5 years. It has helped her arthritis with everyday usage. About one year ago she had a wart removed from her ear. When that was done, the vet did a blood analysis. They told me that her cholesterol level was so off the charts that they had never seen a level so high. The Rimadyl was helping her arthritis, so they had me continue using it. Six months later I had a liver function test again, her levels were on the high end but down from the previouse readings. I continued the Rimadyl.
Symptoms: On February 2, 2000, I rushed Amber to the Emergency room with acute abdominal pain. The Vet's at University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital said they had never seen a dog in so much obvious pain before. She was immediatly started on a IV Morphine drip. X-rays showed an enlarged liver and spleen, and liver enzyme levels very high. Again I was told they had never seen a dog with cholesterol levels so high before. The next morning an ultrasound was done and showed that Amber had nodules on her liver and questionable on her spleen. A needle biopsy was done on her liver which showed no signs of cancer, yet gross amounts of inflamatory tissue, ie..Cirrhosis of the liver. A judgement on their part was made for a differential diagnosis of 1.)Metastatic Cancer 2.)End-Stage Liver failure as a result of Cirrhosis. They figured the abdominal pain was from a embolus in her liver which her body had begun to disolve as her pain was subsiding.
Date of episode: 2/2/00
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? No, not at all!
Dog's current condition: She is holding her own...I'm just enjoying every day I have with her!
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: Today, Amber has recovered from her attack and seems to be doing well. Her vets had me continue taking the Rimadyl, saying that if it helps her arthritis, and she seems happy, to continue it. Amber is now off the Rimadyl for good. I just hope that I didn't help cause her this pain by giving her a controversial medication. If Amber has end-stage liver cirrhosis ,she is not going to live too much longer. I just hope my experience with Rimadyl is not happening to other dogs; if it is, I want people informed so they can get their dogs off this drug while their dog has a fighting chance for liver repair.
3/13/00 -- Case #108: Chow Chow's Condition Does Not Improve Following Withdrawal of Rimadyl
Breed: Chow Chow
Age: 15 years
Comments: I took my dog to the vet two weeks ago to seek treatment for arthritis in his back legs and hips. The vet performed blood tests, and, after determining that my Chow was in perfect health, prescribed Rimadyl. We started the dog on the drug on Thursday, February 24th. By Monday (Feb 28), he had lost all control of his bladder and bowels. We called the vet, who told us to take the dog off the drugs. He told us that we had probably given the dog too high a dosage, and it would take 3 to 5 days for the drug to wear off. By Saturday (March 4), things had not improved. We took the dog back to the vet. Once again, he performed blood tests and determined that the dog was still perfectly healthy. The were no signs of liver damage. We all decided however, not to put him back on Rimadyl. The vet prescribed some sort of drug to control the dog's sphincter muscle. He has been on the drugs for 9 days now, and still no improvement. He is having frequent accidents and periodic diarrhea - which he cannot control. He still experiences pain from the arthritic back hips. It is becoming increasingly difficult to live through the many, many accidents that are now occurring. I find it impossible, however, to justify putting my dog to sleep when we have every indication that, other than the accidents, he is perfectly healthy.
3/13/00 -- Case #107: Dog Appears to Suffer Long-term Health Problems Following Course of Treatment with Rimadyl
Breed: Maltese (female, Vanna)
Age: 10 years (was 7 at the time of taking medication)
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Arthritis
Dog's weight and dosage taken : 5 lbs. 1/4 pill 2 times oer day
When reaction occurred following initial dose: aprox. 2 wks
Symptoms: Lethargy, couldn't move, dehydration; I used words to vet "appeared to be dying"
Date of episode: March 3, 1997
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? He never informed me of any side effects.
Dog's current condition: Dog has never been the same since. Vet performed numerous surgeries insisting it was not the drug.
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: My dog was prescribed Rimadyl on 2/17/97, shortly after it came on the market. I had a healthy alert dog with a little arthritis. I remember seeing her behavior start to change somewhere during the second week. When we took her to the vet on 3/3/97, she was a limp rag. I was told they found a liver lesion on 3/11. I kept insisting to the vet that it must be the drug. They did surgery on her for endometriotis, as well as surgery for mammary tumors, thinking the blood tests indicated the surgery was necessary. After numerous days in the hospital on iv, etc., they came up with nothing. My husband and I chose to discontinue the drug. The dog is still living, but has never been the same. The vet records state that she had stiffening in her legs. As it was a long time ago, I don't know if this could have been paralysis or a small seizure. It was only after reading the article in the Wall Street Journal that I became aware that Rimadyl had problems. I am writing this as I'm sure there are many more unreported cases.
2/10/00 -- Case #99: Five-year-old Boxer Has Seizures While on Rimadyl
Breed: Boxer (male, "Roman")
Age: 5 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Chronic arthritis pain following knee surgeries
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 100 lbs, 100 mgs daily
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 3 weeks
Symptoms: , inappetance, refusal to drink, temp of 105, lethargy, panting, drooling, gagging and finally seizures
Date of episode: 2/9/00
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? Nope!
Dog's current condition: "Currently, he's only one day post seizure. He's a little better."
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "Roman had knee surgery at age three. Two years later, he developed arthritis and was given Rimadyl for pain. Two weeks after beginning the medicine, our daughter reported that she had seen him have what she thought was a seizure. Three weeks after beginning the medicine, I noticed that he was lethargic and seemed depressed. He wouldn't take food or water and wouldn't move from his bed. It was after the second day of this behavior that he began gagging and drooling. He was trying to throw up for the hundredth time, when he had his second seizure. I immediately called the emergency vet and took him in (10:00PM). They ran all the blood work, liver tests, kidney screen, etc. Although the tests were all negative, they advised me to discontinue the Rimadyl. He had never had seizures, high fever, etc., before the Rimadyl, so we are assuming that he had a reaction to that drug. My husband is a physician and has decided that we will keep him on Glucosomine/Chondrotin and possibly find some other drug for arthritis, if his pain is not controlled."
2/23/00 -- Update to Case #99: "Three days after the visit to the ER, Roman was conscious, but had become incoherent. He couldn't move a muscle, had urinated on himself, and was practically dead. We took him to our vet, who ran some more blood tests. He found Roman to be in 'hemalitic-anemic shock' with a hematicrit (sp?) of 20. Three days earlier, it was 28 (38 being normal). The vet immeadiatly gave him a super dose of steriods (some right into the vein) and Roman became coherent in a matter of minutes. He knew who I was and became aware of where he was. Our vet said he wouldn't have made it much longer. That was eleven days ago. His hematacit is rising and is now 30. He is still on a heavy dose of steriods, as his platlets fell to 80 (400-700 normal). He will stay on the steriods for another couple of weeks. His other tests are relatively normal, but we almost lost him. He is THE SWEETEST dog on earth, and I would have been sick if he had died. We are still not out of the woods. The vet said we will just give him the steriods and cross our fingers that nothing else goes wrong. He's drinking almost 5 gallons of water a day and has urinated on himself in the night several times. Although, he can walk and eat and seems almost normal, he's still very tired, thirsty and eats aggressively. I'll let you know if he makes it."
3/16/00 -- Update to Case #99: "Today is March 16, 2000. Roman has remained on a high dose of steriods and, although his hematicrit is rising, the steroids are taking their toll. He is weak, depressed and so very thirsty. The steriods have changed his personality. He is not the same old 'Romey.' We love him too much to let him linger too long in this condition. If he doesn't impove soon, we will probably have to put him down. It kills us to think about it. He is such a wonderful dog, but he's never been the same since the Rymadyl. He's agressive, when he has the strength to be. His life is very sad now."
3/8/00 -- Case #106: No Side Effects Warnings Given; Lab Remains Hospitalized for Liver Toxicity
Breed: Labrador retriever (female, "Misty")
Age: not specified
Reason for Rimadyl rx: disc injury
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 70 lbs., 70 mg. 2x daily
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 19 days
Symptoms: Loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy
Date of episode: 2/28/00
Dog's current condition: unsure; in hospital
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? ABSOLUTELY NOT
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "Misty was put on Rimadyl for a suspected disc injury. I was told nothing about any side effects to watch for, -- only that it was perfectly fine to give her 2/day for 2 to 4 weeks. No blood work was done or even suggested. Two weeks and 5 days later, she seemed to have lost her appetite and just wasnt her usual active self. The vomiting started the next day; however, I was unaware that this was something I should be watching for because of the Rimadyl, so I continued to watch her closely. I continued to give her Rimadyl. After 23 days, I stopped the Rimadyl and called the vet. They saw her right away and ordered blood work and abdominal x-rays, never once mentioning Rimadyl, even though I asked if this could be related to the medicine. The vet assured me, that this was totally unrelated. The blood work revealed the ALT enzyme in the liver to be 1848, I was told 10-118 was normal, and her x-rays were unclear. She needed to have an abdominal ultrasound immediately and to be started on IV fluids. Luckily, I had to take her to another office for this and on the way I thought to myself that it must be the Rimadyl, because the liver values were the only things that were elevated. It made perfect sense to me and to the new vet. He suggested that we wait on any more tests and hydrate her for the next 24 hours. That was on the 2nd of March. She came home the next day and didnt take well to her rice and yogurt diet that was recommended by the vet. The blood work was repeated 3-7-00 showing the ALT was still 1800; an ultrasound was done and indicated an inflamed liver with nothing else unusual. As I write this, she is hospitalized and being given IV fluids, antibiotics, pepsid and sucrafate for the next 48 hours. Other than the suspected back injury she incurred on 1-30-99, Misty has been perfectly healthy and active. The new vet who is now treating her has conveyed this to me also. He would have loved to have a baseline blood level to know what the values were to make a better medical opinion. Also note that the Rimadyl bottle had no insert with the warnings or precautions."
3/27/00 -- Update to Case #106: Liver Values Remain High for Prolonged Period
Sometime on the 5th or 6th of March, Misty ruptured her right cruciate ligament. We knew this for sure on the 7th of March, when we took her back to the vet to have the blood tests repeated. This, however, was secondary to her liver problems when the lab work was done and the ALT was still 1800. We had to get her over this hump before we could consider surgery. Misty was sent home on the 9th of March after 2 days of IV fluids, antibiotics, and observation. The ALT values were still over 1000 at that time, but she was eating and drinking and had stopped vomiting. She definitely seemed to be recovering. Our vet felt certain that the values would continue to drop, though it was taking an unusually long time. The Pfizer vet thought perhaps the reason the ALT was so high and taking so long to drop was because she was on the Rimadyl so long (4 days) when she was very sick (which we didn't realize). She also felt fairly certain that the values would continue to drop, as long as Misty didn't exhibit any other signs of illness. We brought her home and continued to nurse her back to health (we are still weaning her off canned food), then took her for follow-up blood work on March 20th. The ALT was down to 224, still not in the normal range, but getting there. At that time, the vet told us he was comfortable moving forward with her cruciate ligament surgery whenever we were ready. We scheduled the surgery for the 31st of March and are apprehensive of course, but feel we have no choice for Misty's sake. A concern, of course, is if and how the anesthesia will affect her liver, although we have no reason to think she has any permanent liver damage. It has been suggested by someone that I ask about Isoflurane, which is a safe inhalant anesthesia that is minimally metabolized by the body. I intend to look into this and ask our vet. We're hoping all will go well Friday and Misty will be back to her normal self in a couple of months.
4/1/00 -- Update to Case #106: Misty had her knee surgery yesterday and all is well. We submitted our vet bills to Pfizer but have not been reimbursed yet. We are in contact with the head vet on a weekly basis. There is no denying the fact that Rimadyl was the problem.
3/3/00 -- Case #105: Vet Advises Rimadyl Be Continued in Face of Suspected Adverse Reaction; Dog Loses 70% of Liver Function
Breed: Labrador retriever (female, "Punky")
Age: not specified
Reason for Rimadyl rx: mild spinal arthritis
Dog's weight and dosage taken: not specified
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 48 hours
Symptoms: liver toxicity
Date of episode: March 2000
Dog's current condition: unsure; in hospital
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? ABSOLUTELY NOT
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "To help my dog Punky with a mild case of spinal arthrithis, I gave her Rimadyl. She was showing signs of adverse reactions within 48 hours, but my vet said to keep her on it. Within 72 hours, she had lost 70% of her liver function. She was given IV fluids -- 2000cc per day for five days. Her veins gave out and the fluild had to be given subcutaneously. She is responding to treatment, but the pain she is experiencing is extreme. She has good and bad days -- we still don't know if she will live. She has developed a heart murmur and rapid breathing. Our vet says he will not prescribe Rimadyl for another Labrador. My concern is that Pfizer has been given all of Punky's blood work results pre- and post-Rimadyl; there is no doubt that her loss of her liver function was due to this drug, but they said only that they would get back to us. Our vet bills are extensive (although I would do whatever it took to obtain the best medical care for Punky). Pfizer knows of my concern, yet they refuse to respond. Two days ago, in a television ad, Pfizer was advertising Rimadyl -- using a Yellow Labrador. God help us and the unsupecting owners of this loving breed when they give their pets this drug! If they must use this drug, someone needs to ensure they do the proper blood chemistry work beforehand and then regularly to monitor their pet's reaction."
3/3/00 -- Case #104: Side Effects Known, but Rimadyl Not Immediately Identified as the Cause of Symptoms
Breed: Keeshond (male, "Bandit")
Age: 11 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: arthritis in shoulder and leg joint
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 36 lbs - 1/2 of a 75mg pill every 24 hours
When reaction occurred following initial dose: about 30 days
Date of episode: February - March 2000
Dog's current condition: still has vomiting spells on and off
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? "Yes, they seemed to be concerned...that is enough to do blood work and consult with another vet prior to prescribing the drug."
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "First, I'd like to say THANK YOU to those who put together the Senior Dogs Project website and to all of the people who have told their stories on this site. Bandit's vet actually prescribed 75mg every 24 hours. I was concerned about giving him drugs at all, so I cut the dosage in half, thinking that I could increase it if necessary and if he did not have an adverse reaction. He responded well at first. In fact he was much more active he could jump up and reach places he could not prior to the medication. About 30 days later he was sick --vomited about 7 or 8 times in one evening. I took him to the vet; they said he seemed fine. No mention of the Rimadyl possibly being the cause. Then he was fine again for a couple of weeks (or so I thought). He has a doggie door so, I think he was just vomiting outside some of the time. I still, for some reason, did not think it was the drug. I guess I thought he would have been sick immediately upon taking it. I started doing research on the web to find a less expensive source for Rimadyl and other vitamins/meds....that's how I stumbled on this site. After reading the stories from other dog owners, I've taken Bandit off of Rimadyl. I didn't think the drug was this risky. I think my half dosages and this site may have saved my dog's life."
2/29/00 -- Case #103: Caught in Time, Dog Is Recovering from Classic NSAID Side Effects
Breed: Lab Mix (male, "Rambo")
Age: 16 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: hind limb arthritis
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 35 lbs., 35 mg. 2x daily
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 10 doses
Symptoms: diarrhea , loss of appetite, some vomiting, lethargy
Date of episode: 2/24/00
Dog's current condition: stable; Rambo is taking 5OOmg. Metronidazole for diarrhea and 3ml. reglan for upset stomach
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? Vet did not inform us of side
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "We started Rambo on Rimadyl for soreness in his hind legs. We were just looking for some relief from the stiffness. Rambo had 1O doses in 5 days (twice daily) when he exhibited the side effects. I'm just thankful I decided to stop the medication when Rambo became ill -- I figured he should not take the Rimadyl while he was not feeling well. It has been five days since he began therapy with 5OOmg. of Metronidazole for the diarrhea and 3ml. of reglan for upset stomach. Today, Rambo finally ate some scrambled eggs and rice. He looked much better, too. For a few days, I thought we were going to lose him."
2/18/00 -- Case #102: Treatment Would Have Been Sought Sooner, Had Side Effects Warning Been Provided
Breed: not specified (male, "Earl")
Age: 4 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: pain after knee surgery
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 110 lbs., 2 pills/day (unsure of dosage)
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 5 days
Symptoms: not eating, drinking lots of water, lethargic, was jaundiced when taken to vet
Date of episode: 11/6/99
Dog's current condition: doing great
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? not informed, but vet was aware of possibility
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "My dog was so sick for two weeks and suffered tremendously. I had to nurse him back to health. It's such a shame he had to go through this for no good reason. If I had known of the potential side effects, I could have given him help so much sooner -- at the first onset of symptoms. None of the vets I have seen have ever given out any flyers on the reactions to drugs. They should do so by law, in my opinion."
2/14/00 -- Case #101: Pfizer Is Asked to Discourage Use of Rimadyl with Labrador Retrievers
Breed: Labrador Retriever (female, Delta Dawg of Chadwick Bay)
Age: 5 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: limping in right leg; strained knee ligament
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 85lbs -75 mg 2x daily
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 1 1/2 weeks
Symptoms: profuse vomiting, lethargy and bloody, runny stools
Date of episode: 2/19/99
Dog's current condition: good
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? "No; the vet just prescribed. I took brochure from lobby"
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "The pain in my Lab's leg will never compare to the pain and suffering she went through by taking Rimadyl to 'help' her. No one told me what could happen with this drug. By luck, I spotted a brochure and read it. I hesitated to use it after reading the brochure, but vowed to watch for any reaction. As soon as the symptoms started,I knew it was Rimadyl. I called Pfizer immediately, and the vet told me to stop all meds and call my vet. She was afraid that the dog was dehydrated. After the visit, Delta was on Tagament, a shot of antibiotics and oral antibiotics to take for 5 days. Also special food for the ravaged tummy. In April, we went on to have Cruciate Ligament Surgery. She faired well and, as of today, with help from Glucosamine and Chondroitin, she is doing well. I wrote to Pfizer to suggest they warn vets not to give Rimadyl to Labs. I haven't received an answer from them."
2/27/00 -- Case #100: Vet Does Not Give Side Effects Warnings; Dog Has Diarrhea, Inappetance, and Incontinence While on Rimadyl
Breed: Cocker Spaniel (male, "Butterscotch")
Age: 15 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Arthritis due to back surgery at age 4
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 30 lbs; 2x a day
When reaction occurred following initial dose: Butterscotch started taking Rimadyl approximately 2 1/2 years ago. We didn't notice any side effects in the beginning. After a few months he started having diarrhea.
Symptoms: diarrhea, inappetance, incontinence
Date of episode: 2/9/00
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? "No, our vet did not warn us about possible side effects. I did question the vet about side effects because of Butterscotch's age and various health problems (he is on medicine for his thyroid). Keep in mind, I take him to the vet on a regular basis, approx. every 4 - 5 wks., to get checked out. I've been doing this for several years."
Dog's current condition: "Butterscotch is much better now. He is still on the special diet and has occasional bouts of diarrhea."
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "Butterscotch has had a history of digestive problems since he was a pup, but hadn't been bothered with it for several years. We started treating this new bout of diarrhea with prescribed medications, but he continued to get worse. There was a lot of blood in his stool. He was always a great eater, but it had become a struggle to get him to eat. Our vet put him on prescription food, Hills ID & then added DD and rice. He felt that he had intestional problems aggravated by what he ate. We were hand feeding him at times to get him to eat. He also started having problems with incontinence. We attributed it to his age; now I wonder if it was the medicine. I believe it was during this time that the vet told us to give him the Rimadyl only when he had problems walking or was in a lot of pain. He had us giving him glyco-flex daily. I try to keep on top of everything and keep Butterscotch as healthy as can be expected for his age. I question my vet about everything he prescribes for Butterscotch. Now, after reading about Rimadyl and the side effects, I'm wondering if the occasional bouts he still has are after we have given him Rimadyl for a few days. We started him on the Rimadyl yesterday because he was in a lot of pain. It is very upsetting to think that by giving him this medicine, we were causing his problems."
2/16/00 -- Update to Case #43: Three-year-old Dog Develops AIHA Following Administration of Rimadyl
"Dillon, our now-4-year-old Mini Schnauzer is now in remission. He has autoimmune hemolitic anemia caused by having taken Rimadyl. We have amassed thousands of dollars in vet bills and ruined carpet. etc. Not only has Pfizer not given us compensation as promised, but they want our silence for less than we spent and no money for future expenses. We were not warned about the potential side effects of Rimadyl and gave a healthy 3-year-old dog this drug because of a minor limp. He has since been near death several times and suffered enormously. His life will never be the same. Even if he continues to survive, he can never be vaccinated or kenneled and risks dying of a disease such as parvo in the next few years. We have to keep him away from other dogs, except our own, especially puppies. We cannot give him heartworm medication, or have his teeth cleaned, and any minor disease or injury becomes life threatening. We are extremely lucky to still have him with us, but his life and our lives are changed forever. I have learned a valuable lesson: I will not give either of my dogs anything unless I personally look it up in the copy of Veterinary PDR we now own. I use extreme caution when getting any prescription for medication, whether for our animals or ourselves. Pfizer made us many verbal promises over a year ago and have failed to make good on any of them. They took all our veterinary records, stating it would enable them to help us financially, but, in reality, I believe they are using them for their own research. They did not even compensate us for the cost of getting the records copied. Dillon is still alive and a wonderful loving dog; he did not deserve to have this happen to him."
Breed: Miniature Schnauzer (male)
Age: 3 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: limp of unknown cause
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 5 weeks
Symptoms: weakness, lethargy, inappetance, refusal to drink
Date of episode: October 30, 1998
Vet informed about side effects: NO; definitely NOT!
Current condition: fighting to survive autoimmune hemolytic anemia
Owner's Remarks: "This drug should be withdrawn as far as I am concerned. Our dog was perfectly healthy until given Rimadyl. He took the drug for only 10 days and within 4 weeks went from a healthy, active dog to barely alive. He is currently on 40 mg of predisone a day to fight the anemia. This disease struck without warning and with no apparent cause -- except for the Rimadyl -- which never helped his limp anyhow. I would never ever have given him this drug if I had been advised of the potentially deadly effects. "
1/27/00 -- Case #98: Bichon Frise Breed May Be Especially Prone to Liver Reaction to Rimadyl
Breed: Bichon Frise (female)
Age: 14 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: post op pain relief
Dog's weight and dosage taken: not specified
When reaction occurred following initial dose: one month
Symptoms: liver failure
Date of episode: 1999
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? not specified
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "I am health and education chairman of the Bichon Frise Club of America and have had some reports of possible negative reactions to Rimadyl in Bichons. My own experience was a 14-year-old bitch who had back to back surgeries and was given Rimadyl for pain (but not at the recommended schedule, so she had less than prescribed). She went into liver failure at one month post op the second surgery. I feel that the combination of the two anesthesias and the Rimadyl may have been the cause. Bichons have often had liver problems of various kinds (including due to the 'plus' forms of heart preventative meds), and a liver reaction might definitely be suspected when Rimadyl is used."
1/20/00 -- Case #97: Dog Who Had Only a Limp Takes Rimadyl and Becomes Nearly Immobilized from Side Effects
Breed: Labrador Retrieve (male, "Buck")
Age: 9 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: arthritis in elbow
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 95 lbs,100 mg twice a day
When reaction occurred following initial dose: the next day
Symptoms: panting, diarrhea, disorientation, lethargy, depression, staggered when walking
Date of episode: 1/10/2000
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? NO
Dog's current condition: a little better since stop giving him Rimadyl but still weak and shaky
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "From a letter I gave to my vet ......
Here is the chronological order of happenings from Monday onward: Day One 1/17/00 Took Buck to appointment at 4:15. In order to get him there he had to load up and out of the back of my truck which he has done everyday up to now, even with his elbow problem. Earlier that day he had run and romped behind the church. There are cows in a fence next to it and he ran up and down the fence happily interacting with the cows, even with his limp. Day Two 1/18/00 Gave him the first Rimadyl in the morning. Later I went to your office and talked with Eric about the drug. He assured me it was okay to keep giving it to Buck. Gave him his next dose that evening. Last night, Buck was acting strangely, like he would stand there with his head down, licking his chops and salivating like he had to vomit. He was very uneasy all night and kept seeking comfort from me. Day Three 1/19/00 Gave Buck a Rimadyl this morning, and since it's heartworm pill day, gave him that pill too, but later. About an hour ago, I decided to take him for a walk around the block, even though he is being very lethargic and not his perky self. He didn't even run out to see me after I came back from an errand this morning, which has never happened before. Much to my chagrin, he could barely walk and wobbled like he was drunk. He had diarrhea when he defecated. It was all I could do to get him to the end of the street, let alone back to the house. The limp from the elbow was there still, of course, but his back legs kept starting to go out from under him, and he looked disoriented. He wobbled and walked very slow back to the house. My neighbor lady can testify to this. I thought I was going to have to find a way to carry him back to the house! Now, please believe me that Buck was not in this condition before he started taking that Rimadyl. He had loaded up in the truck to go to your office, strained at the leash to interact with other dogs in the lobby, and, when I took him home that day, I let him run around our street with the neighborhood dogs. Granted, when he got back from that adventure he was tired and limping, but he did not wobble and act like he was on his last legs, like he did on our walk today. I just called your office because I wanted to bring him in and have you see how sick he is behaving now. Actually, I would not be able to get him in the truck today, if I had to. I am very afraid, so I'm going to give you back the rest of the Rimadyl. Eric told me Tuesday that you will credit it towards my next visit. The lady vet I talked to in your office just now told me to give him Bufferin, so I am going to do that instead. I know in my heart that Rimadyl is making him sick and, honestly, not because I read those articles. I know because I know my dog and his condition has rapidly deteriorated since I have been giving it to him. I wish you could see him today. Is there anything else we can do for him? I will call you tomorrow okay? Thanks for being understanding."
Update 1/29/00: "I am happy to say that Buck has fully recovered.Thank Goodness! That was a close call. I wonder how many people continue to give Rimadyl to their pet unknowingly, even after toxic signs appear. Not only did I call Pfizer but also the FDA and have spoken at length to both of them. The Pfizer vet even called my vet, whom I gave a stern talking to about his haste in prescribing Rimadyl. I also gave him printouts from your web site. He admitted that I made good points."
1/27/00 -- Reports on Alternative to Rimadyl
Glucosamine/Chondroitin Effectively Replaces Rimadyl
"Last May (1999) I reported on our 3-year-old Golden Retriever, Konteka, who had been diagnosed with hip dysplasia and who we had taken off Rimadyl and started on Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Teka is doing wonderfully since we started her on the G/Ch! She is as lively and bouncy as ever and seldom shows any symptoms of her hip dysplasia. Our vet feels that she is doing so well and has such good mobility in her hips, he has suggested that we delay surgery until her symptoms require it. I hope others will try this medication and achieve the same results. I urge anyone to give it a try."
Editor's Note: Also received was this report, in 1998, on a product containing Glucosamine and Chondroitin:
Breed: Shepherd/Rottie Mix (male, "Max")
Age: 7 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: hip dysplasia
Length of time on Rimadyl: 3 months
Alternative used/description: "We first started Max on Rimadyl for three months. During the last month we suplemented Rimadyl with a product called 'Osteo Bi-Flex.' It has Glucosamine and Chondroitin in it. This product is for humans with joint problems. It helps to promote cartilage regeneration. We tried Max on just the Osteo Bi-Flex and never went back to Rimadyl. We give Max 4 tablets once per day when we feed him. Each tablet contains: Glucosamine....250 mg and Chondroitin....200 mg.This is the fourth month that Max has been on it. He seems to be doing just as well as, if not better than, when he was taking Rimadyl. The product is available at WalMart."
Cliff Pettus <wcpettus@WCTEL.NET>
(Coordinator's Note: A discussion of alternatives to Rimadyl, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, appears on the Alternative Therapies page. Click on the link in the navigation bar at the left.)
Case #96: Converted to Death #78
1/18/00 -- Case #95: Seizures, Vomiting, Liver Toxicity after a Year on Rimadyl; Arthritis Now Successfully Treated with Glucosamine
Breed: Yellow Lab (female, "Pippin")
Age: 15 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Arthritis
Dog's weight and dosage taken: not specified
When reaction occurred following initial dose: almost one year
Symptoms: seizures, vomiting; liver toxicity as shown in blood tests
Date of episode: 1998
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects? not specified
Dog's current condition: Fully recovered
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "My female Yellow Lab was on Rimadyl for nearly a year (1997-98). I took her off of it when she had several seizures and started to vomit and blood tests showed liver problems, which both my vet and I knew could be because of the Rimadyl. When I called Pfizer, they discounted the idea that the reaction could have come after so long. It was nearly a year after that that they began publishing warnings about long-term side effects. Luckily, Pippin recovered fully. Her littermate, Anna, died after what might have been a Rimadyl-related seizure a few months before we took Pippin off of it. Pippin is now a few months short of 16 and her arthritis is completely controlled by Glucosamine. We were very lucky and I credit my vet for doing the right tests and believing the results despite the hype we both got from Pfizer."
1/8/00 -- Case #93: Rimadyl Dosage Cut in Half Due to Financial Considerations; Kidney Failure Is Reversed, as a Result
Breed: Yellow Lab (male, "Rowdy")
Reason for Rimadyl rx: Arthritis -- began at age 10
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 78 lbs --- Vet prescribed 75mg 2x/day (however, dosage was cut in half; see below)
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 2 years into taking Rimadyl, Rowdy was diagnosed with kidney failure
Symptoms: Couldn't walk - was dehydrated; when I took him to the veterinarian, I thought he wouldn't make it through the night
Date of episode: 1998
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects?: No
Dog's current condition: Two years later, kidney failure has reversed (Eukanuba Early Kidney formula prescribed) -- No change was made to his Rimadyl dosage
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "I chose to cut Rowdy's dosage in half, mainly because he was also on medication for seizures, thyroid, and a skin disorder (!) This was more of a financial rather than an informed decision; I couldn't afford the expense and cut all his medication in half. Today, two years later, his kidney failure has reversed and he no longer needs a special vererinarian diet (also expensive!). I do want to add, however, that there have been days when I have missed his dosage, and he is quite obviously arthritic and in pain just hours later. I do not believe he would be able to walk today without Rimadyl, but am relieved that I reduced the amount he is taking each day. If I hadn't, it's possible I may have lost him to kidney failure."
1/7/00 -- Case #92: Classic Toxic Symptoms Appear in Addition to Tumor-Like Mass after First Few Doses of Rimadyl
Breed: Miniature Schnauzer (female, "Cupid")
Age: 7 yrs.
Reason for Rimadyl rx: anti-inflammatory for pain
Dog's weight and dosage taken: 17 lbs. 25mg. twice daily
When reaction occurred following initial dose: .24 - 48 hours
Symptoms:. lethargy, dizziness, refusal to eat or drink, depression and sleep; increased liver enzymes; large tumor-like mass formed on neck
Date of episode: 12/30/99 now on antibiotics for mass on neck
Did vet seem informed & inform you about side effects?: no; no warnings were given
Dog's current condition: seems to be recovering
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "Cupid is an extremely healthy Schnauzer. She had just recently had bloodwork done and the results showed no evidence of any illness. We get her anal sacs drained as needed and she usually experiences some soreness. This last time, the vet was a little rough when draining the sacs and Cupid had additional soreness and a little trouble with her hind legs and had a slight fever. We took her back to the vet and she prescribed Rimadyl and Baytril. She did not inform us of any side effects or adverse reactions. After five pills, we noticed she was dizzy, would not eat or drink, was depressed, and was not getting any better. We then took her to an emergency animal clinic. On the way to the clinic, this large tumor-like mass developed on the right side of her neck. It seemed to 'pop up' out of nowhere. The clinic immediately put her on an IV for dehydration and started administering amoxicillin. The vet asked me what medication she had been on, and we explained Rimadyl and Baytril. He said that Rimadyl was a fairly safe drug, but it was a good thing that I took her off of it. He had some blood tests done and the results showed a rise in liver enzymes. An internal medicine specialist then took over and Cupid underwent many tests, including a biopsy of the mass and an ultrasound. They were sure it was a fibrosarcoma. After the biopsy tests were returned, we discovered that it was not a tumor, but something triggered this mass to appear. It seems to be some form of cyst that erupted and has some infection. We are to administer antibiotics and use a warm compress on it several times daily. It is my opinion that Rimadyl triggered this reaction in Cupid. She has never had an adverse reaction to any drugs before this. She is beginning to get better and will now eat and move about comfortably."
1/5/00 -- Case #91: Dexamethazone and Rimadyl Prescribed Together; Dog Has Near-Fatal Reaction
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "I just want to thank you or giving me the awareness that saved my 12-year-old Basset Hound's life! I had taken her to a vet who prescribed dexamethazone and Rimadyl, to be taken together. I did not know about the side effects of either of these drugs until reading about it on your site, which alerted me and made me realize they should not be given together! Needless to say, I switched vets, and my dear dog just barely missed death: she was bleeding internally, had an enlarged liver and spleen, enlarged heart, and fluid on the lungs. She was extremely anemic, with a red blood cell count of 14%--normal is 36-60%. Today, about four weeks later and after a lot of special veterinary care and TLC by me, she is back to her normal weight and acting as silly as ever. Her blood count is well back into the normal range. I feel so privileged to have companioned with this dog for her twelve years, and I will continue to care for her like a precious diamond. THANKS, and keep up the good work!"
1/5/00 -- Case #90: A Third Report of Megaesophagus -- 10 Year-Old Springer Develops Condition after Treatment with Rimadyl & Cortisone
(Two previous cases of megaesophagus in dogs who took Rimadyl were reported to the Senior Dogs Project on 11/4/99 and on 10/23/99.)
Breed: Springer Spaniel/Black Lab mix (male "Buster")
Age: 10 years
Reason for Rimadyl rx: mobility problems
Dog's weight and dosage taken: not specified
When reaction occurred following initial dose: 1 1/2 days
Symptoms: vomiting; diagnosis of megaesophagus
Date of episode: November-December 1999
Did vet seem informed about side effects and inform you?: No
Remarks on Dog's Rimadyl Experience: "I took my dog to the vet on 11/18/99 for a distemper shot. While there, I mentioned that he seemed to be experiencing some pain when moving. She prescribed Rimadyl to be given in half tablets and Glyco-flex to be started at a later time. During the visit, besides the distemper shot, she gave him a cortisone injection. A day and a half later, with only 2-3 Rimadyl tablets taken, my dog began vomiting. I called the vet and was told to withdraw the Rimadyl because it probably irritated his tummy and to try him on Kaopectate, along with a gruel made of boullion, baby food, and wet dog food. Since he continued vomiting, he was given a shot of Pepcid. He has had prescriptions of tagamid, amoxicillin, carafate, metroclpranide and has been hand-fed for 15-minute sessions while sitting with head held high. An x-ray taken on12/12/99 showed he had megaeophagus. Where did this come from? We've had him since he was six months old. He has always had good veterinary care and never had problems with his digestive tract. I took him in for a 'well doggy' visit and left with a very sick animal who has lost 15 pounds in six weeks. We have spent over $700.00 -- money I really don't have, and just today spent another $94.00 for prescriptions of propulsid & prilosec. I am at my wit's end and feeling helpless as I watch my dog slipping away."
Update 1/29/00: "Two weeks ago our vet, on the advice of a specialist he's been consulting, put Buster through a series of blood tests. He was looking for several things, among them myasthenia gravis. Buster's results for that disease came back as positive. He was put on 60 mg of mestinon 2x a day. He has had five doses, and the results have been this side of miraculous. The vomiting has just about stopped, his appetite has increased three fold, and his energy level has improved 100%. Shortly he will go on prednisone, and the vet feels he will improve even more. Please keep your fingers crossed; we've gone through these types of reactions before where he appears to improve for 4-6 days and then goes downhill again. If this is it, I'm thankful and hope it works for others in the same position we were in. I still feel that Rimadyl had some part in Buster's problems as he never had megaesophagus or digestive problems before taking the medication."
1998 & Earlier