Celebrex Use in Dogs

By Rebecca Boardman

Dogs suffer from arthritis just as frequently as humans, and often suffer worse from the disease because of their constant use of all four legs. As dogs age, the arthritis worsens, causing dogs to slow their activity and the quality of their life to suffer. Veterinary treatment often mirrors human treatment of the same disease, and anti-inflammatories are the first line of defense against the painful symptoms caused by arthritis. One of the more recent medications, Celebrex, provides powerful relief in many cases of human arthritis, and some people question as to whether or not Celebrex is safe to give to dogs.


Celebrex, or Celocoxib, is a powerful NSAID, or Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug, that decreases swelling and increases circulation. It relieves stiffness and soreness, and can improve the movement of the affected area. This drug is prescribed to healthy adults who are not pregnant, have little risk of heart attack or stroke, and do not have a history of ulcers or bleeding issues. For all intents and purposes, these same requirements should be made of any animal that takes this drug. So before you even consider giving your dog Celebrex, have it checked by the veterinarian to make sure it is in good health and without any of the above-mentioned issues.


The significance of NSAIDs for the treatment of arthritis cannot be overstated. Arthritis is the painful result of degeneration of bone and cartilage in the joints. This can be exacerbated by injury or overuse. Although there is no cure, most arthritis can be slowed significantly by maintaining proper weight, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet that supports bone and muscle development and maintenance. Once arthritis has established itself, there is no cure for the disease, only the treatment of the symptoms. This is where NSAIDs such as Celebrex can play such a vital role. By easing pain, stiffness and inflammation, it allows the patient to continue moving the joints and continue with a better quality of life. Whether animal or human, the results are meant to be the same.


It is important to realize that dogs and humans do not have the same digestive systems. A dog's kidney's and liver are much smaller, and therefore filter much slower, than a human's. So any medicine given to a dog that was meant for a human can easily turn into toxic amounts very quickly in the canine body. Most NSAIDs, such as Celebrex, are based on general weight of the patient, so it is critical that you know the exact weight of your dog before you even consider dosing it with medicine. This is where professional veterinary advice is essential. Do not dose your dog with Celebrex without consulting a vet.


Celebrex was made for people, not dogs. And while some veterinarians have prescribed it for arthritic dogs, most do not, and use other, more standard over-the-counter drugs to treat arthritis symptoms in dogs. Celebrex is a relatively new drug, and it is powerful. If the dose is one tablet for a human every 24 hours, and your average human weighs approximately 180 lbs., you can easily poison your dog by giving it this same dose. If you have dosed your dog with Celebrex as the veterinarian prescribed or recommended, and there is no improvement within a week, then you can see the vet about upping the dose--but do not increase the dosage or frequency until you have checked with your vet.


Things to watch for if you dose your dog with Celebrex are difficulty breathing, lassitude, bloody stool or vomiting, and a sudden change in eating habits or behavior. If any of these symptoms occur, stop giving the dog the drug immediately and get it into the vet as soon as possible. If there is bloody stool or vomit, get your animal to the vet on an emergency basis, as there is likely internal bleeding and every second counts (this also applies to breathing difficulty). Allergy to this medicine is not common, but it is possible. As with any NSAID, Celebrex increases the chances of internal bleeding and heart attack or stroke, so be aware of the risks as well as the benefits.