Rimadyl/Deramaxx/etc. TAKE ACTION Page

Is your dog having an adverse reaction to Rimadyl or another NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug)?

Signs of a Potentially Life-threatening Reaction to Rimadyl, Etogesic, Metacam, Deramaxx, Previcox, Zubrin, Novox, Vetprofen:

  • loss of appetite
  • change in drinking habits (refusal to drink or increased water consumption)
  • unusual pattern of urination, blood in the urine, sweet-smelling urine, an overabundance of urine, urine accidents in the house
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • black, tarry stools or flecks of blood in the vomit
  • lethargy, drowsiness, hyperactivity, restlessness, aggressiveness
  • staggering, stumbling, weakness or partial paralysis, full paralysis, seizures, dizziness, loss of balance
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin, mucus membranes and whites of the eyes)

If you see any of the above-listed signs of an adverse reaction, immediately stop the drug

and take your dog to a veterinarian.   If your usual veterinarian is not available, go to the closest emergency veterinarian.  The earlier your dog gets appropriate treatment, the better the chances of complete recovery.

Take with you to the veterinarian’s office any literature you have that describes the side effects of the drug.

If the veterinarian who sees your dog maintains that it’s not possible your dog is having a reaction to Rimadyl or another NSAID, produce the literature you have and  itemize the reactions that you have observed in your dog. If you meet resistance, insist that the veterinarian carefully review these materials and explain again that you believe your dog is having a reaction that is typical of a dog taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).  Misdiagnoses were frequent when Rimadyl was first introduced. DO NOT ACCEPT a diagnosis of any other condition (cancer, for example — a misdiagnosis taken from a real-life report), until an adverse reaction to an NSAID has been thoroughly ruled out.

Ask your veterinarian to call the manufacturer to consult on the tests and therapy your dog needs. The staff veterinarians should be able to offer guidance:

Zoetis (Rimadyl): 1-800-366-5288

Elanco (Deramaxx): 1-888-545-5973


Usually a blood panel and CBC (complete blood count) are needed. Therapy will vary, depending on which organs have been affected.

Don’t panic! If you have caught your dog’s potential adverse reaction to the NSAID in time, it is unlikely that the outcome will be fatal.


Once your dog is receiving treatment, log onto the support network for people whose dogs have experienced an adverse reaction to Rimadyl: https://groups.io/g/DogHealth2     Members of this group represent a wide variety of experience in types of side effects of various drugs, therapies that work, and getting help from your veterinarian and from drug companies.

Follow up with the manufacturer to be sure they have recorded the report from your veterinarian and to ask any and all questions you may have:

Pfizer/Zoetis (Rimadyl): 1-800-366-5288 

Elanco (Deramaxx): 1-888-545-5973

If your dog dies, and it becomes necessary to establish whether the NSAID was a factor in the death, a necropsy must be performed. The necropsy does NOT have to be done by a veterinarian appointed by the manufacturer; it should, in fact, be done by an impartial third party. However, the manufacturer should be advised promptly that the necropsy is being undertaken and that they will be entitled to some, but not all, of the tissue samples obtained.


Try to maintain a diary of the events leading up to your dog’s suspected adverse drug reaction. Make it as detailed as possible. Also obtain all medical records from all sources. Your diary and these records will be invaluable, should you decide to apply to Pfizer for reimbursement of veterinary medical expenses.

Contact and have your veterinarian contact the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine to report the incident.

How to report to the FDA:

  • by telephone at: 1-888-332-8387 (or 1-888-FDA-VETS)
  • via the FDA website

According to the FDA:

“In common terms, an adverse drug experience (ADE) is either an undesired side effect, or the lack of a desired effect. The Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) defines an ADE as ‘any side effect, injury, toxicity, or sensitivity reaction (or failure to perform as expected) associated with use of an animal drug, whether or not determined to be attributable to the drug.’ ” This means that you need only SUSPECT that the side effect is caused by the drug; you do not have to prove it.

If you decide to report an ADE , the FDA advises as follows:

“You should first call the drug company. Inform them that you wish to report an ADE, and ask to speak to a technical services veterinarian. The technical services veterinarian should ask a series of questions about the experience, complete a form called the FDA 1932, and forward the report to CVM . We suggest the drug company as your first point of contact because many companies will also offer clinical advice or diagnostic assistance. CVM does not provide these services. If you wish to confirm that your report was forwarded, or prefer not to call the drug company, call CVM directly at (888) FDA-VETS. Please ask to speak to one of the veterinarians responsible for the ADE monitoring program.”