Animal & Veterinary

Veterinary Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are used to control pain and inflammation. Inflammation - the body’s response to irritation or injury - is characterized by redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. NSAIDs work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, the body chemicals that cause inflammation.

In companion animal medicine, approved veterinary NSAIDs are used to control the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in dogs and horses. Some veterinary NSAIDs are also approved for the control of postoperative pain in dogs and cats. There are potential risks associated with the use of NSAIDs. Veterinarians and pet owners should be aware of the following facts:

  • All dogs and cats should undergo a thorough history and physical examination before beginning NSAID therapy.
  • Appropriate blood/urine tests should be performed to establish baseline data prior to, and periodically during, administration of any NSAID.
  • Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, not eating/eating less, and lethargy. If your pet experiences any of these potential side effects, STOP administering the medication and contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Veterinary NSAIDS may be associated with gastrointestinal ulcers/perforations, liver, and kidney toxicity.
  • Serious side effects associated with the use of NSAIDs can occur with or without warning and, in some cases, result in death.
  • Use with other anti-inflammatory drugs, such as other NSAIDs and corticosteroids, should be avoided.
  • Patients at greatest risk for kidney problems are those that are dehydrated, are on diuretic treatment, or have pre-existing kidney, heart, and/or liver problems.
  • NSAIDs can cause stomach or intestinal bleeding.

Risks associated with NSAIDs are detailed on the package inserts and Client Information Sheets that accompany all veterinary NSAIDS dispensed to clients. A Client Information Sheet should always be given to the client with each NSAID prescription. Pet owners should read this information carefully. Owners and veterinarians should carefully consider the potential benefits and risks of using an NSAID and other treatment options before deciding to use an NSAID. Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration consistent with individual response.

Page Last Updated: 10/17/2014
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