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Carprofen for Cats – Is it safe?

Vet examining kittens in animal hospital

We all want to provide the best medical care possible to our furry friends. Our cats can help enhance our lives with laughter and can act as support animals to ease our tension and distress merely by their presence – they take care of us, but when they are sick or injured we are left in the hands of professionals to take care of them — this usually means being prescribed popular drugs that are now being proven to be potentially harmful to felines.

The popular drug Carprofen commonly known as Rimadyl is one such medicine currently up for debate in pet health circles. It is used in both Feline & Canine healing, and has been effective at helping our pets recover, but just how healthy is Carprofen and specifically for our cats, kittens, and little fur-balls –is it safe?

What is Carprofen?

RIMADYL® (carprofen) by Zoetis is the #1 veterinarian-recommended non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for pain relief for osteoarthritis. More than 24 million dogs have been treated with RIMADYL since 1996, but is it safe for our feline friends too?

Carprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug that is primarily used with dogs, but can be prescribed for cats suffering from certain afflictions. It is not always the vets first choice when prescribing as it can come with some severe side-effects and as comparison to other options, has a less potent effect, but the fact remains that there are cases when this prescription is more effective than others, providing better results.

What Does Carprofen Treat?

Carprofen can be used to treat any variety of inflammation in your pet, but is most commonly prescribed for chronic pain associated with arthritis and joint pain.

Arthritis in felines can make an overall healthy cat feel pain and discomfort from performing simple tasks such as getting in and out of the litter box. With Carprofen the discomforts of arthritis can be significantly reduced. This assists and leads many felines to return to a normal, enjoyable life where before they were struggling to do daily tasks.Note: Carprofen does not improve the underlying causes of arthritis or dysplasia, it acts as an aid by relieves painful symptoms associated with the disease. You will need to give your pet additional supplements in order to improve their overall health condition.

As with feline arthritis Carprofen is commonly prescribed for feline hip dysplasia. The drug will not improve the core issue, or work to strengthen the joints, but will allow your pet to live their everyday lives with less discomfort. Additionally it can used for after post-op surgery pain relief by quickly relieving naturally occurring inflammation around the surgery area. This helps our cats, and dogs reduce stress levels, and sleep more comfortably while healing following surgery..

What Are The Side Effects of Carprofen?

All drugs have side effects and can vary from individual to individual, and from case to case, and when it comes to your pets medicine there is no difference!

The biggest problem with using Carprofen are its known and unknown side effects on felines, both common short-term and more severe long-term. To date Rimadyl aka Carprofen has yet to be fully documented for felines so other possible health benefits and/or side-effects may not yet be known or available to prescribing veterinarians. Some cats experience minimal to no side effects, where others can have severe reactions.

Common Side Effects (short-term):

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • Aggression

Severe Side Effects (long-term):

  • Liver Damage
  • Ulcers
  • Kidney Damage

You should completely avoid using this drug if your cat has any history of kidney or liver issues. Carprofen can irritate or even worsen these issues in cats. Rimadyl also has a list of drugs that it can’t be used in combination with. These restricted medicines include both Diuretics and Digoxin. When using Carprofen check with the pharmacy for a list of medicines that may cause complications when used in unison. If you notice a combination of the side effects listed above, then contact your vet immediately.

There are many more non-steroidal anti-inflammatories available for cats that may provide your feline with better relief. If your cat seems to become lethargic or stop intaking food and fluids entirely immediacy stop use. Your cat could be having an adverse reaction to the medicine and should seek veterinary care ASAP.

Stop Using Carprofen Immediately If Your Cat Experiences These Side Effects:

  • Bloody Stool
  • Convolutions
  • Seizures
  • Severe Pain

Using Carprofen Correctly

Carprofen is prescribed in several different dosages (25mg, 75mg, 100mg) depending on the level of pain or discomfort. It can be administered as an injection or by pill. The injectable would generally be administered by your vet, where the pills form is for at home use. The dosage prescribed to you will vary based on your cat’s age, weight, and health history.

Commonsense Safety Practices

When using Carprofen with cats it is imperative to stick to follow the recommended dosage as prescribed.

  • If the pain seems to persist discuss with your prescribing veterinarian about raising the dosage and any consequences.
  • Make sure to give your pet their pill around the same time every day with food and water if possible. Tip: It’s best to use pill pockets to encourage your cat to swallow the medicine completely.
  • Make sure the pills are stored in a dry area while not in use. If you notice anything strange about your pills, then contact your pet and discard any affected medication immediately. Never store medication in a place that a pet or child may easily access to avoid overdoses.
  • If you miss a dose, give the dose as soon as possible. If it’s close to time for their next dose then skip the missed dose, and continue only with the regular dose for that time of the day or schedule. Do not give your pet two doses at once.

Should Your Cat Use Carprofen?

You should talk to your vet before using Carprofen for your cat. Carprofen is listed as “not for use for cats” and can be extremely toxic to their system if not properly prescribed or administered and on a strict regimen. Never use over the counter Carprofen on your cat without first seeking vet approval and avoid using online vets to diagnose problems with your cats or prescribe medications. Many trusted practitioners advise against the use of Carprofen on cats even if they are suffering from feline arthritis. Instead, you will likely be prescribed another NSAID that has been studied more thoroughly on felines. For less severe pain, your vet may even recommend some simple pet aspirin for short-term use.

If you need more of a deterrent of using Carprofen without vet consent, then look to the medicine’s maker Pfizer. The company publicly advises against using the drug for feline ailments. The FDA stands with this statement and warns pet parents not to use this drug on cats. There are tons of reports of sick cats from owners around the world who have used the medicine. While these reports aren’t of severe nature, for the most part, it seems the Carprofen may just not work as well on felines as it does their canine companions.

Carprofen, in its current form doesn’t look to be approved for wide-scale feline use. The formula can cause too many adverse effects while limiting the medications that can be successfully taken by your cat when using Carprofen. While the formula has been proven effective in the cases of some felines, it will need to go through a feline-friendly overhaul before being completely accepted by the FDA.

Carprofen Alternatives For Cats

If Carprofen isn’t the right fit for your cat don’t give up, there are many other NSAIDs in market to talk to your vet about. Additionally other prescription alternatives are available as well as natural pain relief options available to cats. These options are better researched and have been proven to react better with the feline body; Prednisone for example is a popular choice that is readily available from most pet pharmacies. Many of these drugs are used for dual treatment and have additional effects for cats suffering from certain diseases.

If you are looking to go a more alternative route, then you can check into homeopathic pet products.

  • Supplements made with Omega-3 can help reduce the pain associated with inflammation over time.
  • Water additives to help pets who are finicky eaters.
  • Over the counter aspirin available at most pet shops – short term

Important: Remember to avoid giving pets human grade pain killers as dosages can vary greatly between individual cats. Excessive pain medication can be damaging to a felines liver in the long run.

What are your thoughts and experiences with your pets Carprofen prescription?


1 comment

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