NSAIDs Aren’t Always Bad

Much has been said online to malign non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. NSAIDs are commonly prescribed for arthritis, postoperative pain, and syndromes caused by inflammation....

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Feb 21st 2009


Much has been said online to malign non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.

NSAIDs are commonly prescribed for arthritis, postoperative pain, and syndromes caused by inflammation. Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Previcoxx are commonly used NSAIDs.

All NSAIDs are metabolized by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Therefore, all NSAIDs can exacerbate or cause liver or kidney problems. Also, all NSAIDs have the potential to cause upset stomach and gastrointestinal ulcers.

To be sure, pets can suffer from severe adverse reactions to NSAIDs that may be fatal. Every drug in the class has the potential to cause these events.

Veterinarians have a duty to discuss side effects and adverse events before prescribing NSAIDs. Pets who receive NSAIDs should undergo regular testing of liver and kidney function. Pet owners should make informed decisions about NSAIDs.

If you google any NSAID, you will find web pages detailing heartbreaking experiences of pet loss after NSAID use. People very reasonably want to share this information after suffering a tragedy, so that others might avoid the same fate.

But this leads to a skewed perception on the internet. In fact, the vast majority of pets who receive NSAIDs do not suffer any adverse reactions or side effects. NSAIDs have helped millions of pets.

In fact, NSAIDs often save pets’ lives. A patient I saw yesterday drove this point home to me. He was a 13 year old Labrador who had received Previcox for years to treat arthritis. The owner ran out of the medication, and he did not receive it for three days. The dog was miserable. He could not stand or walk. The owner told me that he thought he “was going to lose” his dog.

A few hours after receiving Previcox, the dog was up, walking, and acting like himself. Previcox saved the dog’s life.

If you google Previcox you won’t see stories like this. People who have good experiences with NSAIDs aren’t motivated to create web pages. But don’t forget the message of the story: NSAIDs aren’t always bad.