Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) are a class of drug that is commonly used by us humans. Naproxen and ibuprofen fall into this category. The common medications in this category for dogs are Metacam, Deramax, Onsior, Rimadyl and Previcox, just to name a few. These drugs can help dogs with fever, pain and inflammation which is similar to how they are used in humans.
One of the main reasons a retired dog might be on this type of medication, or it might be recommended that your dog be put on it, is for joint related pain from things like arthritis. There are a lot of other modalities that should be used to help with this type of pain before and during NSAID use so that you can use the lowest effective dose of this medication.
One option is giving nutraceuticals such as glucosamine, fatty acids, turmeric and green lipped mussels to help with inflammation in the joint. Another good option is physiotherapy and conditioning. One of the other solutions is lifestyle changes, such as having good grip surfaces (like carpet) in your home, preventing them from jumping in/out of vehicles, doing shorter walks more times each day to keep them moving without overtiring them, using a harness (which we discussed in the last issue) and keeping their weight at an optimal level.
However, just like we take the occasional Advil for an ache or pain, giving an NSAID medication to your dog works the same way. It always amazes me at how reluctant owners are to provide pain relief medication to their dog. I often hear owners saying they don’t want to give their dog pain relief as they think it will “make them feel too good” and they will hurt themselves more, or “they don’t show me they are in pain”. All of your retired dogs have worked hard and likely have some significant wear and tear on their joints, and really it would be unreasonable and unfair to assume they don’t have any pain.
Some dogs may only need the medication a few times a month, others a few times a week and others may need it daily. Daily use can come with some complications however the risks may seem negligible compared to the relief the medication might provide. Checking blood work prior to starting this type of medication will indicate if there are any concerns at the outset with organ dysfunction and help you and your veterinarian decide if the medication is a safe choice for your retired dog.