What Are the Pros and Cons of NSAIDs for Dogs?

german shepherd

Veterinarians most commonly prescribe NSAIDs for dogs to relieve swelling and pain associated with various conditions and diseases. There are some pros and cons to using these types of medications. While they have been proven very helpful in alleviating pain, discomfort, and inflammation, they also carry the risk of serious side effects. For this reason, when prescribing NSAIDs, veterinarians exercise caution and diligence.

NSAIDs, which stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are commonly used by humans in the form of over-the-counter medications such as ibubrofen and acetaminophen. While these types of over-the-counter NSAIDs are fine for people, they are not appropriate for dogs. Rather, NSAIDs for dogs are available only by veterinary prescription. The fact that they must be obtained through a veterinarian can be a negative factor for some individuals because of the inconvenience involved. On the plus side, however, these types of medications can also be relatively inexpensive when compared to other available pain-relieving prescriptions.

dog wearing a sweater

Veterinarians have found NSAIDs to be particularly effective in relieving inflammation and discomfort caused by osteoarthritis. They can also safely be combined with glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which are also used to treat joint pain. This is definitely considered an added benefit by many veterinarians. Additionally, because of their combined anti-inflammatory and pain-alleviating properties, NSAIDs for dogs are frequently prescribed to help manage pain and reduce swelling after surgery. In less common circumstances, veterinarians use the medication prior to surgery in order to reduce inflammation in the surgical area.

On the negative side, NSAIDs for dogs carry the risk of significant side effects. Most commonly, these types of medications can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. As a result, dogs can also experience lethargy, loss of appetite, and dehydration.

If NSAIDs for dogs are used over a prolonged period of time, other serious complications can result. Ulcerations and perforations in the stomach can occur. The liver and kidneys might also be adversely affected. Consequently, if a dog is taking an NSAID medication, it needs to be monitored for signs and symptoms associated with these types of conditions.

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When administering NSAIDs to a dog, individuals must also follow the prescribed dosage very carefully. Administering a dosage in excess of what a veterinarian recommends can be toxic and result in life-threatening complications. Consequently, in order to avoid overdosage and to make necessary dosage adjustments, a veterinarian might require periodic blood tests to keep track of the level of NSAIDs in the dog’s bloodstream. This can turn out to be an expensive proposition and might offset the low cost benefit of the medication.

For some individuals, NSAIDs for dogs might be the perfect solution to inflammatory and pain management problems for their pets. Still, for others, the NSAIDs can actually cause more issues because of their potential side effects. Each dog is different, and some might have a greater sensitivity to NSAIDs than others. Veterinarians generally take all of these factors into account when prescribing NSAIDs for dogs.

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