Possible Side Effects of NSAIDs and Safety of Long-term Use
What are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)?
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used for their properties that include:
NSAIDs are commonly prescribed as pain relievers. NSAIDs are fundamental to osteoarthritis therapy in dogs. Some NSAIDS are also used to manage post-surgery pain in both cats and dogs. No NSAID has been approved for long-term use in cats.
Inflammation is the body’s response to irritation or injury. It is characterized by swelling, warmth, redness and pain. It works to heal wounds, but it can also play a role in some chronic diseases. NSAIDs relieve pain by blocking the production of chemicals produced by the body that play a role in inflammation.
Because NSAIDs carry both benefits and risks, pets should undergo a thorough physical examination by a veterinarian before beginning NSAID therapy.
It’s important that you discuss with your veterinarian your pet’s medical history and the possible side effects and associated problems of NSAID use.
NSAIDS PRESCRIBED FOR VARIOUS CONDITIONS
Approved veterinary NSAIDs are typically prescribed for conditions, such as:
- Knee pain
- Eye inflammation
- Injured ligaments
- Dislocated kneecap
- Elbow or hip dysplasia
- Abnormal joint cartilage
- Postoperative pain
BENEFITS PET OWNERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
- Don’t contain cortisone
- Are usually very effective
- Have pain fighting properties
- Have anti-inflammatory properties
- Are associated with fewer side effects than aspirin
- Help many dogs with chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, lead more comfortable and happy lives
- Allow greater ease of movement, leading to muscle strengthening and decreasing strain on affected joints
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF NSAIDS?
Possible side effects may include:
- Not eating/eating less
- Dark and/or tarry stools
- Increased water intake
- Increased urination
Possible associated problems causing the side effects may include:
- Gastric ulcer
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Anemia (with pale or yellow gums)
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
Earlier studies suggested that the most serious adverse eﬀects occur at a very low frequency.
If your pet experiences any side effects, contact your veterinarian immediately and stop treatment.
SAFETY OF LONG-TERM NSAID USE IN PETS
Owners whose pets need pain relief ask the question, “How safe are NSAIDs for long-term use in pets?”
In a paper called “Risk-Benefit Decision Making in the Long-Term Use of NSAIDs for Canine Osteoarthritis”, Dr. B. Duncan Lascelles (professor of surgery and pain management, NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine) dismisses the notion that long-term use of NSAIDs increases the risk of associated problems. He also noted that side effects are more likely to appear in the first two to four weeks after therapy starts (i.e. not necessarily because of long-term treatment).
Controlling your dog’s pain is essential to his comfort, quality of life and overall well-being. Consult with your veterinarian for a treatment and pain management protocol.