Carprofen Use for Dogs, Dosage and Side Effects

Carprofen Use for Dogs, Dosage and Side Effects

Carprofen is prescribed for the treatment of osteoarthritis-related pain and inflammation as well as the management of postoperative pain following soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries in dogs.


Your veterinarian might recommend carprofen if your dog is in pain or has inflammation. Although it is safe for dogs, this common canine medication functions similarly to human medications like ibuprofen (unlike ibuprofen and many other human drugs).

What Is Carprofen And What Is it Used for in Dogs?

Dogs who experience pain or inflammation can take carprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). The most typical use of this medication is to reduce pain and inflammation brought on by conditions like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and arthritis. In order to lessen pain, inflammation, and fever following surgery, an injury, or an infection, it may also be prescribed.

Cyclooxygenase is an enzyme that promotes inflammation-related pain (COX). This enzyme comes in two different varieties: COX-1 and COX-2. Both contribute to inflammation and pain, but COX-2 is primarily present where there is swelling. As a selective COX-2 inhibitor, carprofen preserves the body’s COX-1, which is primarily known to maintain and safeguard the lining of the digestive tract in dogs. Some NSAIDs inhibit all COX, which increases the risk of bleeding, ulcers, and stomach upset. Carprofen and other COX-2-inhibiting NSAIDs are prescribed over other types of NSAIDs for some dogs because they can reduce pain and inflammation while having milder GI side effects. This is because COX-2 but not COX-1 inhibiting drugs have fewer adverse effects on the body.


Based upon comparison with data obtained from intravenous administration, Carprofen is rapidly and nearly completely absorbed (more than 90% bioavailable) when administered orally. Peak blood plasma concentrations are achieved in 1-3 hours after oral administration of 1, 5, and 25 mg/kg to dogs. The mean terminal half-life of Carprofen is approximately 8 hours (range 4.5-9.8 hours) after single oral doses varying from 1-35 mg/kg of body weight. After a 100 mg single intravenous bolus dose, the mean elimination half-life was approximately 11.7 hours in the dog. Carprofen is more than 99% bound to plasma protein and exhibits a very small volume of distribution.

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Potential Carprofen Side Effects on Dogs

Carprofen is not an exception; it too can have side effects. Gastrointestinal upset is one of the most frequent side effects of NSAIDs in general. When administered to dogs in the proper dosage and with food, carprofen is typically well tolerated by them. However, some dogs may still experience some of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • GI ulceration and bleeding
  • Black, tarry stools (digested blood in stool)
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Prolonged or unexplained bleeding
  • Central nervous system problems (uncommon)

Your veterinarian may advise blood tests to evaluate your dog’s health, particularly liver and kidney function, prior to starting carprofen. This is due to the fact that carprofen, like the majority of NSAIDs, may have adverse effects on the liver and kidneys. After your dog has taken this medication for a while, additional blood tests will be required to make sure the liver and kidney values have not changed.


Although my dog has not experienced any overt side effects like vomiting or diarrhea, follow-up blood work revealed that one of her liver enzymes was slightly elevated. My veterinarian has advised that we have her blood work checked again in a few weeks and that we also get some X-rays so she can see how her liver is doing. She might require an ultrasound if anything is abnormal. If they find that the carprofen is harming her liver, we might even have to stop the medication. Be sure to heed your veterinarian’s monitoring recommendations because this scenario happens frequently to dogs taking this medication.

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Dosage of Carprofen in Dogs

Carprofen is a veterinary medication that is taken orally once or twice a day as a pill. Chewable tablets are available, making dosing easier for pet parents. Carprofen should be taken with food to reduce the possibility of stomach upset.

Carprofen is typically given to dogs at a dose of two milligrams per pound of body weight per day. This is usually divided into two daily doses, 12 hours apart. Carprofen tablets come in three different strengths: 25, 75, and 100 milligrams. My 45-pound mixed-breed dog eats one-half of a 100-milligram chewable tablet with each meal (morning and night) and treats them right out of her food bowl. If my veterinarian is out of chews, I use pill pockets to make the tablets more appealing to my dog.

Rimadyl, Vetprofen, and Novox are some of the brand names for carprofen. There are also several generic forms available. Alternatively, an injectable form can be administered at your veterinarian’s office.

Risk Factors for this Medication You Should Know

Carprofen should not be used in pets with bleeding disorders such as Von Willebrand disease or those with low platelet counts, or in pets that are allergic to it or other NSAIDs in the same class. It should be used cautiously in pets younger than 6 weeks of age, older pets, pregnant or lactating pets, dehydrated pets, or pets with pre-existing diseases, especially liver, kidney, heart, or gastrointestinal diseases. It should be used cautiously in pets that have had bone surgery or injury, as carprofen may affect bone healing. Carprofen should be used cautiously, if at all in cats, or in pets taking other NSAIDs or corticosteroids.