Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) are considered safer than aspirin for reducing pain in pets. But for many animals, the commonly prescribed pain killers can cause injury and death. Here are some cautionary tips to consider before giving NSAIDs to your pets, according to Dr. Bob Rogers, of Critter Fixer Pet Hospital, in Texas.
“There is risk of liver failure with all NSAIDs,” said Rogers. “Liver necrosis in Labrador Retrievers caused by Rimadyl has been reported in largest numbers.”
Pfizer Animal Health, which manufactures Rimadyl, an NSAID that has caused thousands of deaths, believes labs are affected the most because it is a popular breed, he said, “and Rimadyl was the first and most commonly prescribed NSAID.”
Blood tests before administration of NSAIDs cannot predict this liver reaction, said Rogers. “Until more information is available, the staff at Critter Fixer Pet Hospital prefers to exercise caution, and not use Rimadyl.”
NSAIDs are relatively new to veterinary medicine, he said. “Veterinarians have little clinical experience with these drugs. Although every manufacturer has data that alleges their drug is safer than others, no credible non-manufacturer sponsored data exists which accurately compares the safety or effectiveness of these drugs.”
NSAIDs are commonly prescribed to dogs after surgeries, such as spay and neutering, and for the relief of arthritis. It has caused massive gastro-intestinal hemorrhaging and bleeding in some dogs, followed by death.
Pet owners should pay careful attention to the following before administering NSAIDs, said Rogers:
• Ask the veterinarian for a written warning about side effects and the manufacturers’ package insert;
• Test for kidney and liver problems, especially in older pets, which are prone to kidney failure. A urinalysis and blood test are essential;
• Watch for signs of dry eye in patients receiving the NSAID EtoGesic (Etodolac);
• Monitor kidney and liver functions in pets on prolonged NSAID use. Monitoring is recommended annually, and if the dosage is increased;
• Give with food and Zantac or other antacid medication daily to prevent duodenal ulcers, a common side effect of NSAIDs, though it won’t prevent gastric ulcers;
• Give Polysulfated Glucosamines, PSGAs, (Adequan, Glycoflex, or Cosequin) with prolonged use of NSAIDs for arthritis and degenerative joint disease. NSAIDs can contribute to cartilage degeneration over a long period of time. PSGAs help cartilage heal, and protect kidneys;
• Stop NSAIDs when gastric upset, nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea first appear.
• Don’t mix with steroids like dextamethazone, prednisone, vetalog or depomedrol. Gastrointestinal bleeding can result;
• Don’t give to patients with known impaired gastrointestinal, kidney, cardiovascular, or coagulation functions. Tramadol, a pain medication, can be used instead. If liver enzymes are elevated, use a lower dose, and with liver treatment medication;
• Don’t give with Enalapril or other ACE inhibitors, Lasix, or with drugs like aminoglycoside, antibiotics or psychotropic drugs (Prozac, Clomiclam);
• Don’t give to dogs with Cushing’s disease, or other diseases where pets are predisposed to blood clots;
• Don’t use in trauma or critical care patients due to potential clotting and kidney problems.