What are NSAIDs?

What are NSAIDs?

Author WDF Staff


Like humans, dogs can feel pain. In those moments, they need a little bit of help to deal with it. Humans have different medications available for dealing with pain. There are prescription options, like powerful opiates for chronic pain, and over-the-counter medications we can buy like Aspirin or Advil. Some drugs fall in the category of NSAIDs, and they can be useful for our dogs and us.

If your vet prescribes pain medications to your dog, it will probably be an NSAID. Naturally, we all want to know a bit more about the drug our dog has to take. One of the first questions that might pop into your head is, “What are NSAIDs?” Since they are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for dogs, we decided to give you more information about them. Here’s what you should know about them.

What are NSAIDs?

NSAID is an abbreviation for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug. These drugs are used in humans and animals. For dogs, NSAIDs are used for treating pain and inflammation. There are multiple brands approved for use in dogs. However, before you actually use any one of them, you should talk to your vet.

dog in pain

Active ingredient

The most important part of every medication is its active ingredient. The active ingredient is the thing that will affect your dog’s body and help them deal with the problem they might be experiencing. NSAIDs are a group of drugs; it is not a single drug that bears that name. NSAIDs can contain different active ingredients, and they are;

There are different brands from different manufacturers, and even generic versions of NSAIDs are available in pet pharmacies. You can even order them online on Chewy’s online pharmacy. Some of the most well-known brands of NSAIDs are Deramaxx, Galliprant, and Metacam.

How do they work?

One of the first things we were interested in was learning how NSAIDs work. When a dog feels pain or gets an inflammation, their body naturally reacts and starts fighting the problem. The body’s response to those things is prostaglandins production. Prostaglandins are enzymes that the body releases as a response to cell damage. More precisely, cells produce COX, or cyclooxygenase, which in turn produces prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins have important functions in the dog’s body. They protect the lining of the stomach and intestines, maintain a healthy blood flow to the kidneys, and support platelet function. However, they also contribute to inflammation, pain, and fever.

golden-retriever in park

NSAIDs can work differently. However, all of them influence the enzymes. However, some of them will block COX, and some will block certain functions of prostaglandins. If fewer prostaglandins are produced, or their functions are blocked, the body’s natural reaction will be less intense.

Are NSAIDs safe?

The good news is that NSAIDs are the safest way to treat pain in dogs. However, like most other drugs available to dogs, they can cause adverse reactions. Cases of overdose are rare, but it is absolutely crucial you stick to your vet’s instructions about administration and duration of treatment.

VET TIP: You should never give NSAIDs to your dog without discussing it with your vet. Make sure you tell us if your dog is taking other drugs, especially steroids or Aspirin. Dogs with liver, intestinal, heart, or kidney issues should not take NSAIDs.

NSAIDs side effects

Unfortunately, treating one issue your dog is experiencing can cause side effects in other areas. Like other pain medications in humans and other animals, NSAIDs might cause side effects you should be prepared for. The most common NSAID side effects are;

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Jaundice
  • Skin reactions
  • Changes in drinking habits

old collie

The good news is that NSAIDs are short-acting drugs. Their effects should stop after 24 hours, so even if your dog develops side effects, after 24 hours, they should stop too. Dogs with kidney or liver issues might feel effects longer since these organs won’t “filter” the drugs the same way healthy organs would.

What are NSAIDs prescribed for?

Like we mentioned earlier, NSAIDs are prescribed for treating pain and inflammation. However, there are different diseases and injuries that can cause such reactions, so you should listen to your vet regarding the best treatment options. NSAIDs are most commonly prescribed for;

  • Arthritic pains
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Surgery recovery
  • Soft tissue pain and/or inflammation

Where can I get NSAIDs for my dog?

The first step you should take is visiting your vet. There is probably a good reason your dog needs pain or inflammation medications, and if you’re not a vet, you shouldn’t try to deal with these issues yourself. After your vet checks your dog, they will write you a prescription. You can pick these medications up at your local pharmacy, pet pharmacy, or on Chewy’s online pharmacy.

World Dog Finder team

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