Safe Alternatives to Rimadyl for Dogs

If your dog is suffering from arthritis, your vet might prescribe carprofen, marketed under the brand name Rimadyl. While this medication can alleviate arthritis symptoms, it has the potential to cause serious side effects in your pet. If you want a safer alternative to Rimadyl, look into nutraceuticals and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture. These supplements might not work as quickly as Rimadyl, but have few, if any, side effects. Always consult your vet before giving your dog any supplements.

Couple walking dog on bridge
A couple is walking an old dog.
credit: Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatories

Rimadyl is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It's similar to certain over the counter NSAIDs people might take, but designed for canines. Dogs should never receive human NSAIDs. While effective, Rimadyl's can cause gastrointestinal side effects. These include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or appetite loss. More seriously, some dogs develop gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney or liver disease. Other NSAIDs available for dogs include deracoxib, sold under the brand name Deramaxx; firocoxib, sold under the brand name Previcox, and meloxicam, marketed as Metacam and Orocam. NSAIDS share many of the same side effects, so substituting another for Rimadyl isn't necessarily a safe alternative.

Canine Nutraceuticals

Basically foods with medicinal benefits, nutraceuticals aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. These supplements -- such as methyl-sulfonyl-methane, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate -- are found naturally in the body. While generally safe, these supplements require a long lead time, perhaps two months or more of daily administration, before you might notice any change in your dog's movement or behavior. The amounts of MSM or glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate must build up in your dog's system for efficacy. Although these products are readily available over the counter, ask your vet for a recommended brand and the right dose for your dog.

Herbal Remedies

Certain herbs can ease arthritis symptoms. Although you can purchase these herbs over the counter, you and your dog are better off if you consult a holistic veterinary practitioner. Cat's claw has anti-inflammatory properties, as does Boswellia and tumeric. Use the latter in the whole herb form, not its extract, curcumin. White willow bark is also an anti-inflammatory, but has analgesic, or painkilling abilities.

Adequan for Dogs

Rather than give your dog a supplement for arthritis, consider a series of injections. Your veterinarian might prescribe Adequan to relieve arthritis pain. Generally, the initial series consists of twice-weekly intramuscular injections for four weeks. After that, your dog receives a monthly injection, if needed. Adequan's active ingredient is polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, developed from cattle tracheal cartilage. Any side effects are mild. Some dogs might experience a brief bout with diarrhea after an injection, or pain at the site of the injection.