Safer Alternatives to Rimadyl for Dogs

Alternative medications to rimadyl and a dog illustration
Written by Livvy Ashton | Last updated: June 21, 2023

Pet owners would often look for the best remedy for their pups.

Rimadyl is one common remedy that is prescribed in case your dog gets sick. But there are a lot of alternatives that you can choose from, which might be a better remedy for your dog.

This post will give you an in-depth insight into what Rimadyl is and point you to the best alternatives to this relatively high-risk medication.

Safety of Rimadyl for Dogs: Highlights

Rimadyl is a type of medication known to alleviate pain and inflammation. It belongs to the class of compounds called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).

However, you should be careful not to give Rimadyl to dogs — or any medicine, for that matter — without your vet’s consent because it could cause serious health problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues.

If the condition of your dog is more serious, this drug may also lead to fluctuations in body temperature and kidney failure.

What is Rimadyl?

Rimadyl is a very common type of painkiller that is prescribed by most vets to treat pain and inflammation in pets.

It mainly contains carprofen, which belongs to the class of drugs called ‘’Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs’’ (NSAIDs).

This works by stopping the production of a hormone known as prostaglandin, which is responsible for pain and swelling in your dog’s body.

Different Forms of Rimadyl for Dogs

Dog with Pills and medicine

Three forms of Rimadyl are normally prescribed by vets for dogs. They are:

Rimadyl Caplets

The caplets of this medication can be easily swallowed by dogs. They help treat pain and inflammation and are preferred by dog owners because they’re simple and easy to administer.

If your pet is allergic to aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines or is breastfeeding or pregnant, see your veterinarian before using the Rimadyl caplet.

Should you notice stomach ulcers or bleeding, liver or renal illness, congestive heart failure, fluid retention, bleeding disorders, heart disease, or signs of hypertension when your dog takes Rimadyl, discontinue the treatment and inform your vet about this incident.

Rimadyl Tablets

Rimadyl tablets are chewable and have been designed for dogs that have difficulty swallowing. This form will work just like the caplets when taken orally. Rimadyl tablet’s anti-inflammatory qualities may reduce joint inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, which helps relieve pain. It’s a suitable alternative for long-term pain treatment of arthritis in dogs since it is well tolerated by the majority of canine patients.

Rimadyl Injections

Injections can be given by vets to dogs with chronic pains. This is the form usually chosen by dog owners as they can get help from the vets in administering Rimadyl to their dogs. It is not safe for your dog to administer the injections yourself. Use with caution in animals with cardiac, hepatic, or renal illness, since there is a risk of ulceration or bleeding in the intestines, as well as hypersensitivity to the product.

Side Effects of Rimadyl in Dogs

NSAIDs such as Rimadyl have nasty side effects when used long-term. Some of the risks associated with continuous use of Rimadyl in dogs include:


This is the most common side effect of Rimadyl that can cause your dog to become dehydrated. This is something you should never ignore, and you should give your dog remedies for an upset stomach right away. When your dog gets dehydrated, it may trigger a domino effect, leading to other disturbances in the dog’s system.

Decreased Appetite

Appetite loss will cause your dog to lose weight and can be prevented by giving your dog high-value treats or other foods to make them eat normally again. Increasing your dog’s appetite may take time. Do it gradually to prevent stomach irritation, constipation, or diarrhea.


Lethargy is a sudden decrease in the activity level of your dog which can affect their ability to engage in usual activities. It may indicate that the condition of your dog has worsened and may require more advanced treatment.


This will occur when your dog’s digestive system has an allergic reaction to Rimadyl. It can be prevented by giving your dog anti-diarrheal drugs. If this happens, you should take action right away as your dog might become dehydrated.

Kidney Failure

This is one of the most threatening side effects of Rimadyl. It will be indicated by increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. You should immediately consult your vet if this occurs as it could lead to more serious side effects.

Liver Problems

Liver problems occur when the dog takes Rimadyl for a long time. It can cause jaundice and an increase in bilirubin which will lead to yellowish discoloration of the gums and eyes.


When you give your dog Rimadyl, it can decrease its pain sensitivity, potentially leading to injuries or broken bones.

What Happens When You Dog Overdoses on Rimadyl (Toxicity)

Rimadyl on Veterinary examination table

High doses of Rimadyl can lead to serious effects, such as:

  • Liver Damage
  • Kidney Damage
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Heart Problems
  • Seizures
  • Uncontrolled Muscle Movements
  • Hair Loss
  • Serious Allergic Reactions
  • Death

Alternatives to Rimadyl for Dogs

Looking for alternatives to Rimadyl for dogs is normal for any fur parent. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you want a safer option for your dog, some alternatives may work just as well. Here’s a list of them:

Previcox for Dogs

Previcox is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that helps relieve pain and inflammation in dogs. It has fewer side effects than Rimadyl and usually comes as chewable tablets. Previcox is also used to treat post-surgical pain and inflammation in dogs who have had soft tissue or orthopedic surgery.

Possible Side Effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Aggression
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

Deramaxx for Dogs

Another NSAID for dogs, Deramaxx can curb inflammation and pain in your buddy. It’s a lower strength than Rimadyl, so it doesn’t cause as many adverse reactions.

Possible Side Effects:

  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Melena
  • Diarrhea
  • Phlebitis

Metacam for Dogs

This is an oral anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve pain and inflammation. Like Deramaxx, it’s a non-steroidal medication, which means fewer side effects. It helps treat bone disorders in dogs and ease post-surgical pain

Possible Side Effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in vomit
  • Swelling
  • Increased thirst
  • Weight loss

Galliprant for Dogs

This is another NSAID that’s used to treat pain and inflammation in dogs. It helps in making your dog feel better on its way to recovery. Galiprant has a decent safety profile as a daily medication — but only in small doses. If you feel that the dose needs to be increased, you should first talk to your vet.

Possible Side Effects:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased activity level
  • Vomiting
  • Soft stool

Onsior for Dogs

Onsior is prescribed to relieve joint and arthritis pain in dogs so they can move around with ease. This medication should be administered in the lowest possible dose, and at the shortest time. Again, a consultation with your vet will help you gauge the optimal dosage.

Possible Side Effects:

  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Emesis
  • Dyspnea
  • Seizure

CBD Oil for Dogs

Using CBD Oil Dropper for dogs

CBD oil is a safer alternative with fewer side effects than NSAIDs. CBD oil for dogs is effective in reducing pain and inflammation. In addition to its remarkable anti-inflammatory properties, CBD demonstrates anti-epileptic, antioxidant, anti-depressant, anxiolytic (reduces anxiety), antipsychotic and neuroprotective effects.

According to the review of the literature surrounding the safety and side effects of CBD, the compound has an excellent safety profile and is well-tolerated by dogs and humans.

CBD’s therapeutic versatility stems from its interaction with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a vast neurochemical network that regulates homeostasis between all other systems and organs throughout the body.

Possible Side Effects:

  • Itchiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness

Benefits of CBD Oil for Dogs

CBD oil is a natural alternative to Rimadyl for dogs. CBD oil for dogs can provide different benefits for your pet with or without health conditions.

The benefits include:

  • Relief of arthritis or joint pain. CBD oil improves the dog’s mobility, making him more active.
  • Controls nausea. It can stop vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia in dogs especially when they are taking chemotherapy drugs.
  • Reduces anxiety. CBD oil is used to treat anxiety disorders in dogs, whether it’s noise aversion or separation anxiety. The calming properties of CBD oil can keep your pet relaxed, making him less anxious.
  • Treats seizures. CBD oil helps control epileptic seizures in dogs. It doesn’t contain any THC that can cause psychoactive effects, so it’s safe to use even when treating conditions involving the nervous system.
  • Improves overall health and wellness. CBD oil can improve your dog’s metabolism, immune system, and heart health. It contains powerful antioxidants that are beneficial for your pet’s overall well-being.

Summarizing Alternative Options to Rimadyl for Dogs

If your dog is taking Rimadyl for arthritis, you might want to know alternative options that may work just as well — but with fewer side effects.

Medications can work best when you use them according to their dose. Make sure that you follow the instructions set by your vet to prevent any untoward situations in your pet.

If you are after a safer method to help improve your dog’s condition, you can turn to CBD oil.


Because giving CBD oil to dogs is a natural way of bringing the much-needed relief in a biologically appropriate method. It is just important to choose the right CBD oil product to give to your pet.

Ask your vet about the proper use of CBD oil for your dog’s condition. Doing so will give you a bigger picture of the areas where CBD could be useful, but it should also help you gauge the right dosage and establish a proper routine so that no CBD-drug interactions occur.

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *