In humans, patients who are experiencing arthritis might receive a prescription for diclofenac. This medication is in the category of NSAID, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It is used to combat pain and inflammation in people. But in dogs the medication is used differently. Your veterinarian might prescribe diclofenac in a topical form to treat certain eye issues. But the tablet form of diclofenac is not given to canines. Diclofenac is approved for use only in humans, but U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations allow veterinarians to prescribe it in an off-label capacity.
Diclofenac sodium for dogs
Diclofenac sodium works by inhibiting prostaglandin production, which aids in decreasing inflammatory responses. In humans, it's a drug with many uses. Diclofenac is prescribed for treatment in humans of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as for migraine headaches and menstrual cramping. But, it's not right for everyone; it is contraindicated for human patients with history of heart disease, stroke, clotting, hypertension, or liver or kidney ailments.
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But what about dogs? Can dogs take diclofenac? In canines, diclofenac is used almost exclusively to treat ophthalmic problems, so the contraindicated uses for humans aren't generally issues for dogs. However, it's important to understand that approved use for dogs is limited, and, in fact, there are contraindications for canines, too.
Diclofenac solution for dogs
Diclofenac sodium ophthalmic solution for dogs serves primarily to treat eye diseases, particularly iritis (inflammation of the iris) and mild anterior uveitis. The latter condition can be caused by infections, trauma, cancer, immune-mediated causes, and high blood pressure. Anterior uveitis can become chronic and especially painful, so diclofenac use may be long-term. If your dog is scheduled for eye surgery, the veterinarian may administer diclofenac sodium drops, marketed under the name Voltaren, before and after the operation to control inflammation.
Side effects of diclofenac solution for dogs
The side effects of diclofenac use as a topical eye treatment in dogs are minimal. Ibuprofen is a common NSAID used in humans. Although NSAIDs like ibuprofen are relatively safe in humans, they can be extremely harmful to dogs. However, if a dog consumes a diclofenac tablet or the topical gel, he requires an immediate trip to the emergency veterinarian. NSAIDs, as a whole, can cause serious side effects in canines, including stomach ulceration, kidney failure, and even death.
NSAIDs block certain processes in the body that cause inflammation. But these same processes are also important in normal organ functions. So if a canine consumes NSAIDs, it can cause problems. Signs of diclofenac poisoning in dogs include vomiting, perhaps with blood in it; diarrhea or dark, tarry stools; appetite loss; lethargy; and seizures.
Diclofenac sodium eye drops for dogs may have a number of benefits, but just as with humans, there are instances in which it should not be used due to other health issues. For instance, diclofenac eye drops for dogs should not be used if glaucoma is present. If your dog is prescribed the medication for long-term use, your veterinarian will monitor eye pressure regularly for signs of glaucoma.
You also should not put diclofenac in a dog's eyes if they are bleeding. If your pet suffers from a corneal ulcer, he should not receive the drug, or topical corticosteroids, as they can slow wound healing. If systemic infection is ruled out, some dogs with uveitis could temporarily be prescribed topical or oral corticosteroids in addition to diclofenac drops to reduce inflammation.
Telling your veterinarian about any medications or supplements you give your dog is always a smart idea when discussing a treatment plan for new or ongoing health issues, especially with a medication like diclofenac that has a number of contraindications. It's better for your veterinarian to have extra information about your pet that they don't necessarily need rather than miss a potentially harmful drug interaction.