Sunday, March 30, 2008

NSAIDS and Pain, Why They Don't Mix

This is another in the “MYTH” series. It’s an expansion of a handout provided by a magazine called Clinician’s Brief Vet Team advisor. (

Here are the top myths surrounding Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (i.e., Rimadyl, Duragesic, Previcox, and on….)

1) If a dog is not showing signs of pain, it’s not painful.
This one should be obvious. For starters, the dog or cat may be lying around because it hurts too much to move. How many times have you pulled a muscle and then went for a run?

2) If a pet doesn’t respond to one type of medication, then they won’t respond to any.
This is not true at all. I have allergies. Some antihistamines don’t work at all. Some make me a functional person. If I had given up on the first one I tried I might have doomed myself to a lifetime of suffering.

3) Once your pet starts feeling better you can stop the medication.
Again, your veterinarian is not trying to rip you off; the medication may need to be given, at least occasionally, for the rest of your pet’s life. The medication makes the dog fell better and gets rid of the pain, but right now we don’t have any medication that reverses the changes that occur to your pet’s joints and bones. Those of us in our 40’s wish that medication would hurry up and find its way to market!

4) NSAIDS cause ulcers
Yes, when given in the wrong dosage or to pets with other medical conditions, ulcers can be a problem. And yes, they do occur without warning in some pets. However, the potential risk of a side effect is very small and in many cases the risk-reward is worth it for pets in pain. Just for fun, pick any medicine in your cabinet and ready the warning section. That should make you think twice about just popping pills.

5) Labradors are more sensitive to NSAIDS.
This is just false. Labs are more likely to have bad hips, and therefore more likely to be on medication. For example, you’re more likely to die in a car wreck if you have a driver’s license.

6) A dog on medication for pain will become more active and further hurt themselves.
Think about this for a second. You are choosing to leave your pet in pain so that he will live a longer life. Kind of the way you want to go? This also is based on 1960’s thinking. Pets that move around will actually help themselves by building muscle and losing weight.

7) NSAIDS will cause liver failure.
Again, we have dogs on this medication for years and this has not turned out to be true. Now, we also have the ability to support the liver with new medications and testing.

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