Some of you may have seen information in the press recently about 'lethal' arthritis medication and a tragic story where a Labrador died.
The Labrador involved in the article sadly died due to an adverse reaction to a commonly used arthritis medication called Rimadyl which contains a drug called Carprofen.With all arthritis medication there is a risk of inflammation of the bowels causing vomiting and diarrhoea and possible kidney damage if they are not used properly. Carprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory much like the paracetamol and ibuprofen that we take at home when we have a head ache. Carprofen is known as COX drug due to the level in the pain pathway that it works to stop the pain
There is a cascade of chemicals released when the body is in pain and carprofen and other COX inhibitors stop this domino effect of chemicals from being released right at the top of the pathway. This stops the pain but unfortunately also inhibits some good chemicals that the body needs. These ‘good' chemicals are involved in protecting gut lining and the kidneys. Newer pain killers, the coxibs (such as Onsior, Trocoxil) only block out the chemicals that cause pain know as COX 2. With these drugs you are much less likely to get adverse reactions like vomiting and kidney damage. The only downside being newer drugs is that they are slightly more expensive.
However you do not need to worry about your pet if they are already on arthritis medication. With ANY arthritis medication if vomiting or a digestive upset starts you must stop giving the medication straight away and let us know. At Oak Barn Vets this is clearly written on all our labels. These drugs are only dangerous if this advice is not acted on. If your pet is taking Metacam, Rimadyl, Carprodyl F and has not had any digestive problems then along with the millions of other animals taking these drugs they are not at risk. Just like some people are allergic to paracetamol it is incredibly rare.
With the newer COX 2 drugs at Oak Barn Vets we are using them more and more for patients that are in more of a risk group, such as the elderly who may have pre-existing kidney issues or delicate stomachs. But still with these drugs if your pet suffers an upset stomach you must STOP giving them straight away and let us know.
It is important to realise that these every day pain killers that we use can be dangerous if used incorrectly but can also be extremely helpful in giving our pets long happy lives. Some of you may remember my old dog Scooby, the Ridgeback, who took Rimadyl happily for 2 years and gave him a new lease of life when his arthritis was naturally progressing.
All of these arthritis drugs are species specific so what works well for you will not necessarily work well in your pet. Carprofen is extremely toxic to human livers, paracetamol causes fatal anaemia in cats and as little as two ibuprofen tablets can kill a dog so real care must be taken. As always if you are worried about your pet then please give the practice a ring on 01483 455355 or