NSAIDs - Research Article

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Definition / Overview Types of NSAIDs Side Effects / Dangers
Safety Concerns    

Can NSAIDs Safely Be Used?

Some believe that NSAIDs can be safely and effectively used short term (5 to 7 days) for pets not taking any other medications and without other diseases. A careful history, examination, and laboratory testing will be needed in most pets. For long-term use, it is recommended that NSAIDs be used only if other treatments have failed. These patients are frequently monitored for side effects (every 2 to 3 months), and protective medications may be used to decrease side effects. In effect, vets try to make the patient comfortable and have a good quality of life at the risk of causing side effects and even death in that pet.

About Previcox

One example is Previcox (firocoxib), a new NSAID licensed for pain management associated with canine osteoarthritis. Developed specifically for companion animals, Previcox is available in a once-a-day dose that provides therapeutic pain relief for 24 hours after treatment. In dose confirmation studies, dogs treated with Previcox showed improvement in lameness within three hours compared to untreated controls, and returned to almost normal function after seven hours. In field studies with dogs as old as 19 years, Previcox was shown to provide pain relief to dogs with osteoarthritis and reported by owners and veterinarians to cause fewer adverse events, including gastrointestinal effects, than reference products. These studies demonstrated an outstanding level of efficacy and safety in a fast-acting formulation.

Previcox may be associated with gastrointestinal, kidney, or liver side effects. These are usually mild, but may be serious. Dog owners should discontinue therapy and contact their veterinarian immediately if side effects occur. Evaluation for pre-existing conditions and regular monitoring are recommended for pets on any medication, including Previcox. Use with other NSAIDs, corticosteroids, or medications that could be potentially toxic to the kidneys should be avoided.

Etodolac or Carprofen

The mainstay of conventional medicine involves the chronic administration of NSAIDs, most commonly etodolac or carprofen. Unfortunately, as is the case with people, pets can have both acute and chronic side effects from this class of medication. These side effects can be mild (vomiting, anorexia, lethargy) or severe and potentially fatal (acute hepatopathy, gastrointestinal ulceration or perforation, and renal failure).

Additional Cautions with NSAIDs

  • Approximately 70 percent of possible adverse drug events have been in older dogs (many of these older pets have pre-existing disease or underlying milk dehydration, or are taking multiple medications that predispose to renal or gastrointestinal side effects).
  • Patient evaluation, including physical examination and appropriate diagnostics, is prudent before prescribing any medications.
  • When any medication is prescribed, owners should be informed of potential drug-related side effects and signs of drug tolerance.

If people or pets must receive NSAIDS on a regular basis for analgesia (pain relief), it is imperative to use pre-treatment laboratory analysis to make sure liver and kidney function are stable. Frequent monitoring with blood and urine testing allow early diagnosis and treatment of side effects. People and pet owners should be told to watch for clinical signs of side effects so that medical help is received as soon as possible.

Safe Treatment of NSAIDs

The safest treatment option for animals with chronic joint disorders remains a natural joint supplement.


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