What Are the Side Effects of Metacam in Dogs?

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What is Metacam for dogs? Meloxicam, marketed under the name Metacam, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) useful in the treatment of pain and inflammation in dogs with health issues including osteoarthritis. This common medication is one of many FDA-approved NSAIDs licensed to treat canine inflammation — other examples include Rimadyl (also called Carprofen), Galliprant, and Deramaxx. Veterinarians prescribe this medication to manage acute or chronic pain and inflammation in dogs.

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The duration of Metacam use depends on the underlying disease or injury being treated. Dogs with osteoarthritis, for instance, might take Metacam for years in combination with other treatments to help with mobility issues. However, like all medications, Metacam for dogs has side effects that need monitoring to prevent long-term damage to canine organs.

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Mild Metacam side effects for dogs

Although uncommon, potential Metacam side effects can be short-term diarrhea, slight anorexia, or infrequent vomiting. However, these side effects are considered mild. A decrease in appetite also falls into the category of a mild side effect. Watch your dog closely and report major changes in behavior or eating (such as refusal to eat entirely) to your veterinarian immediately. If the digestive issues continue, your vet will likely change your dog's medication or alter the dosage.

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Severe Metacam side effects for dogs

In rare cases, Metacam side effects can be severe. For instance, if your dog vomits blood or has blood in his stool, stop giving him the Metacam and immediately call your veterinarian. Blood in the stool might be tarry, black, or red. This might be a symptom of stomach ulcers. Also, note that diarrhea without blood but persisting for more than 24 hours is also a reason to stop giving Metacam and to seek veterinary care.

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Furthermore, increased water consumption, excessive vomiting, or changes in urinary functions can affect your canine's kidney function. Any changes in your dog's activity level, such as being overly tired, rambunctious, uncoordinated, aggressive, or seizures, are all possible severe Metacam side effects that require veterinary intervention. Note, however, that seizures caused by medications like Metacam are extremely rare.

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Adverse drug interactions when using Metacam for dogs

Five different classes of drugs exist for arthritis in dogs including NSAIDs; opioids; glycosaminoglycans; nutraceuticals, including joint and mobility diets and joint supplements; and herbal remedies, such as CBD. Extending the list is a promising new treatment using microscopic radioactive implants to reduce intra joint inflammation.

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Likely, your pet will take only one drug in each class for arthritis. It is rare to be prescribed more than one NSAID at a time for arthritis treatment. However, in severe and end-state arthritis cases, pain can be controlled with many different medications, sometimes in similar drug classifications. Your vet will consider all potential side effects when developing a complete treatment plan.

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There are many potential drug interactions with any NSAID like Metacam, so any prescribing veterinarian should know your dog's full medical history. Your vet should also know about medications — including over-the-counter supplements —your dog is currently taking as well as any previous reactions to any medications they might have had in the past. For instance, dogs with decreased liver or kidney function should not use Metacam, because it can aggravate the disease. When used in conjunction with phenobarbital, Metacam decreases the level of effectiveness of both drugs by affecting liver enzymes and metabolism.

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Metacam for long-term pain management

Your veterinarian might order liver and kidney function tests for your dog at intervals if your pet is to remain on Metacam long term. For most healthy pets, testing will be in the range of every 6 to 12 months as long as no side effects are detected at home. But for pets with other underlying medical conditions, testing could be as frequent as every three months. By closely monitoring the results, your veterinarian can determine if Metacam is the best treatment for canine pain and inflammation — without causing adverse side effects, of course.

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