Carprofen for dogs is an FDA-approved veterinary formulation of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that belongs to a specific class of pain relievers containing propionic acid. It is structurally similar to ketoprofen, ibuprofen, and naproxen although it possesses several advantages over these other NSAIDs. Carprofen for dogs can only be obtained with a prescription from a licensed veterinarian.


Because carprofen for dogs is inherently an NSAID, its indications are the following.

Pain Associated with Canine Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is inflammation of the joints brought about by microscopic changes in the structure of the bone especially at the ends. Because of these microscopic changes that typically result in irritation and inflammation of the various tissues within the joint capsule itself, certain pro-inflammatory substances are released. These substances stimulate pain receptors, sending pain signals to the brain. Carprofen limits the formation of some of these pro-inflammatory molecules so that pain impulses are not generated.

Inflammation Especially Those of the Joints

Inflammation is not a disease, but rather a protective mechanism designed to limit the extent of tissue injury. Unfortunately, the injury to the tissue itself releases pro-inflammatory substances. One of the characteristics of inflammation is swelling which also presses on nerve endings. Carprofen does not prevent or heal the tissue injury. However, it can limit the action of certain pro-inflammatory substances.

Pain Associated with Surgery

As we have already described above, carprofen is indicated in pain especially in musculoskeletal and articular conditions. As such whenever there is tissue injury such as what happens in soft tissue and even orthopedic surgical procedures, pain and inflammation always follow. Carprofen can limit the extent of inflammation by controlling the action of pro-inflammatory substances.


Fever is also a cardinal sign of inflammation. Since carprofen works by limiting the activity of pro-inflammatory substance, then it should also work to help lower fever.

Benefits of Carprofen

It is evident that the benefits your dog can derive from carprofen are related to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic actions. Here are the benefits of carprofen for dogs.

  • Improved mobility because of the alleviation of pain and the reduction of swelling.
  • Improved nutrition related to increased mobility. Your dog can already stand up and enjoy its food.
  • Improved quality of life as your dog can now move freely and do what it loves doing.
  • Faster healing of surgical wounds. Since the inflammation and pain have been reduced, tissue repair, healing, and regeneration can proceed unimpeded.

How Carprofen Works

Like all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, carprofen works by inhibiting the activity of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that is needed in the production of prostaglandins. The main difference between carprofen and the other NSAIDs is that it inhibits the action of both types of cyclooxygenases – COX-1 and COX-2.

Cyclooxygenase-1 is needed in the production of prostaglandins that are necessary for optimum renal and gastrointestinal functioning. On the other hand, cyclooxygenase-2 is needed in the synthesis of prostaglandins that serve as pro-inflammatory molecules or substances that induce inflammation. Since carprofen inhibits the action of both COX-1 and COX-2 it is not surprising that it can produce both renal and gastrointestinal toxicities and anti-inflammatory activities, respectively. The good thing with carprofen is that it has been shown to have a higher affinity for COX-2 making it an excellent anti-inflammatory with milder GI and renal complications compared to other NSAIDs.

Potential Side Effects

While carprofen has a higher affinity for COX-2 it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have side effects anymore. The following are some of the more common side effects of carprofen:

In more severe cases, the following can be seen:

  • Jaundice
  • Increased urination
  • Incoordination or loss of coordination
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Increased thirst
  • Pallor
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Seizure

Know that there have been undocumented, mostly anecdotal reports of sudden death in dogs after administration of carprofen. Additionally, gastric ulcers and gastritis are known to occur in carprofen overdose.

Allergic reactions may also be present in susceptible dogs. These can include rashes, swelling of the oral cavity, and labored breathing. If any of these signs are observed, the dog needs to be brought to the vet immediately.

Things You Should Know about Carprofen

Carprofen for dogs is an FDA-approved drug for alleviating pain and reducing inflammation in osteoarthritis in dogs as well as other pain of bone and soft tissue origins including post-surgical management of pain and inflammation.

What You Should Tell Your Vet before He Prescribes Carprofen

If your pet has a bleeding disorder, liver disease, or even kidney disease, your vet should know about it. If your pet is lactating or pregnant, you need to inform your vet, too. You also need to tell your vet of any medications or supplements that your dog may be currently taking as these can interact with carprofen.

Related Post: Best Dog Joint Supplements

How to Give Carprofen to Your Dog

The current dosage recommendation for carprofen for dogs is 2 milligrams per pound of your pet’s body weight. This can be given once a day or divided into 2 doses given 12 hours apart. Carprofen is available in 25-, 75-, and 100-mg tablets. However, you should always adhere to the dosage recommendation of your vet as he alone knows what is best for your pet’s condition.

What to Do If You Miss a Dose

Give the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if the time you remembered it is already close to your dog’s next scheduled dose, then forget the missed dose and simply give the next dose as scheduled.

What to Do in Case of Carprofen Overdose

Carprofen overdose can lead to gastritis and the formation of ulcers. If these occur, discontinue the treatment and seek emergency veterinary help immediately.

Some Drug Interactions

Carprofen is known to interact with other NSAIDs, steroids, allergy medications, furosemide, warfarin, and probenecid. Whatever your dog is currently taking, make sure to inform your vet about them as there might be drug interactions with carprofen.

Carprofen is an effective pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drug that is approved by the FDA for administration on dogs. While it has a closer affinity for COX-2, serious side effects can still occur. Carprofen should only be given with the expressed written guidelines of your vet.


Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!


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