Our Blog

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06: Holiday Closures 2019
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13: Cases of Leptospirosis in the GTA
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02: OVC Pet Trust Fundraiser 2019
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07: The Threat of Tick-borne Diseases
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10: Anticipated tick bloom
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22: Introduction to TCVM – Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine
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14: The difference dental care can make
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01: Veterinary Technician Specialties in Dentistry!
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18: The Internet at its Best
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22: Cancer Awareness Month - Ruby's Story
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22: The 15 Steps to Your Pet's Dental Cleaning!
15: January and February are Dental Months, and We Have a Contest to Celebrate!
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December 2013
27: Dentistry in New Orleans!
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13: Periodontal (Dental) Disease in our Pets
December 2012
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15: Farley Month a Huge Success!
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27: Possessive Aggression in our Dogs
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20: Litter Boxes - Everyone's Favourite Task!
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14: Exercising Your Pets in the Summer - Heat Stroke
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28: Non-Invasive Diagnostic Imaging - Ultrasound Case Study
21: A Heartfelt "Thank You" for Attending our Pet Education Carnival!
19: Non-Invasive Diagnostic Imaging - Ultrasonography
May 2012
23: A Logical Approach to Unwanted Barking
07: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use in Companion Animals
April 2012
21: Wellness Examinations Help to Maintain Your Pets Health
10: OVC Pet Trust Animal Cancer Centre Needs Your Help!
01: Heartworm Disease in Ontario
March 2012
19: A Dedication to a Great Man and an Dedicated Veterinarian
February 2012
06: Why Anesthesia-Free Dental Care is Wrong, Cruel, and Medically Inappropriate
January 2012
16: The Why's and What's of Dental X-ray
09: Cats Are a Unique Species, with Unique Dental Disease
05: Six Easy Steps to Brushing your Pets Teeth!
02: Dental Awareness Months!
December 2011
21: Chocolate... Good for you?
November 2011
11: Farley Month was a Huge Success!

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use in Companion Animals

Posted: 2012-05-07

In February 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Centre for Veterinary Medicine held a Webinar entitled, “Advice to Dog Owners Whose Pets Take NSAIDs.” The webinar, which is about half an hour long, contained a great deal of useful information, and the FDA has an archived version available on its website if you want to take a look. The link to the webinar and the presentation slides can be found on the FDA website by clicking on the following link: http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm291745.htm.

Also available on their website is a useful handout about pain management in pets, at the link: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/AnimalHealthLiteracy/ucm196295.htm.

In the webinar, information is presented about what Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (abbreviated as NSAIDs) are, what they do, and how they work. Briefly, NSAIDs work by decreasing levels of prostaglandins in the body through inhibition of a specific enzyme that manufactures prostaglandins from other substances.

Prostaglandins play many important roles in the body, including:

  • Promoting inflammation, pain and fever
  • Supporting platelet function (i.e., helping blood clots form)
  • Protecting the stomach lining from stomach acid
  • Maintaining normal kidney function

NSAIDs therefore, to varying degrees, have some effect on all of the above bodily functions and mechanisms. It is for this reason that pets on frequent NSAID therapy require monitoring blood testing to ensure they are not having any negative effects on the organs. Most of the prescribed NSAIDs in veterinary medicine are what’s called COX-2 selective – a form that directly targets COX-2, an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain. Targeting selectivity for COX-2 reduces the risk of unwanted and potentially dangerous gastrointestinal injuries, including ulcers. They do not seem to carry less risk for other potential side-effects, including kidney damage.

The primary uses for NSAIDs in veterinary medicine are reducing inflammation, pain, and fever. Like all forms of medical intervention, NSAIDs carry with them potential benefits and risks. Anybody who has taken a human-approved NSAID to treat joint pain, fever, etc. can attest to the upsides: less pain, greater mobility, and an improved quality of life. And the same is true for our pets.

The most common adverse events associated with NSAID use in veterinary patients are vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, and diarrhea that resolve with discontinuation of the drug and appropriate treatment. Rarer but more serious side effects include stomach/intestinal ulcers with possible perforation, kidney and liver failure, and death.

There are species-specific concerns with respect to the use of NSAIDs in animals. For example, cats lack the enzyme systems to efficiently break down NSAIDs, and thus are at a much higher risk of developing potentially serious side effects when given these drugs over extended periods of time. As an example, a single acetaminophen tablet may kill an average-sized cat! In the USA, no veterinary NSAIDs are approved for long-term use in cats, although in Canada and other countries there are approved products for use in cats.

Our pets deserve to live a life that is as pain-free as possible, and NSAIDs are one of the most cost-effective way of providing pain relief. The best way to determine whether the benefits of NSAID use outweigh the potential risks for your pet is to talk to our veterinarians, since each pet is unique and in many cases the benefits to your pet outweigh the risks. For pets that are unable to be given NSAIDs, there are many other options for the management of pain in our pets.

If you are giving your pet an NSAID and you notice any abnormal symptoms, STOP giving the drug and call your veterinarian immediately. Adverse reactions need to be reported so drug safety can be monitored and appropriate steps can be taken to prevent further problems for our pets.

This blog entry was written by Westbridge Veterinary Hospital, an animal clinic in Mississauga dedicated to providing high quality, modern veterinary care to our beloved pets and their families.

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