Rimadyl and Other NSAIDS

If you believe that your dog is having an adverse reaction to Rimadyl or another NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), proceed immediately to the Take Action Page  Other NSAIDs commonly prescribed for dogs, which can have similar adverse effects, are:  Etogesic, Metacam, Deramaxx, Previcox, Zubrin, Novox, Vetprofen.  A complete list of NSAIDs approved by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine can be accessed on the FDA site.  NSAIDs are widely used because they are effective in controlling pain in dogs.  However, there is a serious downside to these drugs — many dogs have died as a result of adverse side effects these drugs can cause.  The FDA’s CVM site states: 
“As with any medication, veterinarians should discuss the benefits as well as the risks of the drugs with their clients when prescribing an NSAID. Every year millions of doses of medications are prescribed for dogs with good reason—but many adverse reactions occur. Most adverse reactions are mild, but some result in permanent impairment or even death. If the client can recognize a possible reaction and stop the medication while seeking veterinary attention for the dog, quick action may make the difference between a good outcome and a disaster. 
“The most common side effects from NSAIDs include vomiting, loss of appetite, depression/lethargy, and diarrhea. Some side effects can be serious, especially if the drug is not used according to labeled directions, resulting in the need for medical care. Serious adverse reactions include gastric ulcers and perforations, kidney and liver problems. Death may result in some instances.” 
Rimadyl came to our attention in 1997, when, within a month of our launch of srdogs.com, we began receiving devastating news via E-mail about a new drug called “Rimadyl” that appeared to be leading to dogs’ deaths.  Jean Townsend was the first person to call our attention to this serious situation when she told us of the death of her beloved Chocolate Lab, “George.”  Jean is the founder of the doghealth2 Yahoo group, which she organized to help people whose dogs have been adversely affected by Rimadyl, or who have other health-related concerns.

We posted the report of George’s death on the site and ultimately posted over a hundred more.  Twenty years later, we are still receiving these reports (although no longer posting them on a regular basis) and getting news of lawsuits being brought against the drug’s manufacturer.  For example:

Posted on September 1, 2017 — Long Island, NY, Woman Sues Veterinarian, Blames Painkiller For Beloved Dog’s Death ….see the report, learn Buoy’s story

Posted in July 2017 — A report from “Krista” :

“We picked up Christopher’s ashes today at Cornell hospital and requested to have all of Christopher’s records mailed to us.  Within a 24 hour period, we had three sets of medical records that pertained to this one episode of Rimadyl poisoning.  Prior to this problem with Rimadyl, Christopher was a healthy 7 year old boxer/hound that suffered from nothing more than seasonal allergies.  Our first stop was an after-hours emergency visit  to our family vet who prescribed the Rimadyl after Christopher developed a fever and lack of appetite, which we now believe was the symptom of a gum infection.  He immediately referred us to Syracuse ER based on how acute Christopher was presenting, and his opinion that Christopher was suffering from something severe and systemic.  Syracuse then referred us to Cornell because they recommended that Christopher have an immediate ultra sound of the liver, which they could not accommodate at the the early morning time we were there.   Cornell concluded that Christopher had suffered irreversible liver damage that ultimately resulted in internal bleeding and consequential violent uncontrollable seizures.  After consulting with the Dr. the decision was made to put Christopher to sleep; the damage was done, irreversible and too severe to treat any further.”

If your veterinarian has prescribed an NSAID for your dog, you should receive a Client Information Sheet, which will enable you to intelligently discuss with your veterinarian whether the drug is appropriate for your dog.

The Senior Dogs Project recommends that you:

 (1) Discuss with your veterinarian the potential side effects versus the benefits of any drug before deciding to administer it.

(2) Do an Internet search to get both manufacturer’s information and reports from consumers and veterinarians.
(3) Request and read the package insert or Client Information Sheet that should always accompany any medication that your veterinarian dispenses.
(4) While the drug is being administered, observe your dog carefully and be alert to the appearance of any of the side effects described in the insert.
(5) Report any side effects to your veterinarian immediately and get veterinary attention for your dog.
(6) Follow up with a report of the side effects to the drug’s manufacturer and to the FDA.

FDA’s Extensive Guidelines for Prescription and Use of NSAIDs for Dogs

The Food and Drug Administration has issued guidelines covering the prescription and use of NSAIDs such as Rimadyl, Etogesic, and Deramaxx. Please review them, and be certain your veterinarian has seen them, before administering them to your dog. Also see “Treating Pain in Your Dog,” an excellent article published by the FDA.

The Food and Drug Administration has determined that certain drugs can only be used safely when patients and owners are provided with critical information on the safe use and potential adverse effects of the drug. For humans, this information is provided in the form of a “Medication Guide.” The veterinary equivalent is known as the “Client Information Sheet.”

Owners of pets who have suffered adverse reactions to veterinary drugs have reported to the FDA that they were not provided Client Information Sheets by their veterinarians. There is a long history of consumers’ having appealed to no avail to state veterinary boards to mandate that vets provide this critical information. Many complaints have been filed against veterinarians for not providing them.

To remedy this situation in Pennsylvania (Senate Bill No. 950, Session of 2013) and several other states, legislation has been proposed mandating that veterinarians provide clients with Client Information Sheets for the drugs for which they are available. It is hoped that such legislation will alert consumers to signs of adverse reactions and potentially save their dogs from organ damage or death.