What Veterinarians Should Tell Clients About Pain Control and Their Pets


by Michele Sharkey, DVM, Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation; Margarita Brown, DVM, Office of Surveillance and Compliance; and Linda Wilmot, DVM, Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 2006 Volume XXI, No I

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are commonly prescribed and extremely effective pain control drugs for pets.
Like most drugs, they do cause side effects, some serious.
Veterinarians are in the best position to inform their clients about these side effects, so the clients can take better care of their pets. And, pet owners expect veterinarians to explain all potential risks of medications.

In the United States, NSAIDs commonly used in dogs include ETOGESIC (etodolac), RIMADYL (carprofen), METACAM (meloxicam), ZUBRIN (tepoxalin), DERAMAXX (deracoxib), PREVICOX (firocoxib), and NOVOX (generic carprofen). These drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) for use in dogs. (You can get more information about these drugs by going to CVM’s website, www.fda.gov/cvm.
Once there, go to the “Green Book” navigational button, where you can look up the drugs by their brand names or active ingredient.)

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, the client 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, kidney and liver problems. Death may result in some instances.

An informed dog owner is the best defense against serious side effects from NSAIDs. The veterinarian is the most qualified source for information regarding NSAID use and a dog’s care.
Owners should not hesitate to ask questions and inquire about possible side effects or signs to watch for when treating a dog.
A Client Information Sheet, which a veterinarian should give the pet owner whenever an NSAID is prescribed, serves as a reminder of this information for use at home.

From FDA website

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