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Rimadyl and liver problems.

Species: Dog
Breed: Jackapoo
Age: 8-11 years
Hi Dr. Marie

Last night my dog sustained some type of injury to himself while jumping up on the recliner, something he has done hundreds of times before.

I took him to the vet and she examined him and we cant figure out where the pain is coming from because she maneuvered and manipulated his back and joints and he didnt let on. She took him in the back room and he walked around and she still couldnt find out where the pain was coming from. She told me this can be common in some animals, being brave and very stoic.

He is in pain though and she said since we dont know exactly where the pain is, it would be pointless to Xray because she wouldnt know where to begin and it could get quite costly. So she put him on Rimadyl and didnt give me any instructions with it other than to take every 12 hours.

Oreo also have some liver disease, vacular hepatopathy and doing very well. So I came home and googled and read that this is a deadly and dangerous drug. So now I am afraid to give him any more. He had a shot in the office and I am to follow up with a pill in 12 hours.

I dont have a good feeling about this drug but if I confront her on this tomorrow, I fear she will get all defensive and be offended for my questioning her judgement.

One thing we know is he didnt break anything because he can walk. My vet said she thought he has a soft tissue injury. So since I started typing this I called the vet on call, he is the owner of the clinic we go to, they all rotate being on call. He thought my vet did the right thing but he suggested if I wanted, to cut the dose down to half of the 25 mg. every 12 hours. That is the only thing he suggested to do different.

So I am always one who loves opinions. What do you think of this drug. The websites I have read have people saying their dogs died after just 5 days on this drug. The vet on call cautioned me to not get too caught up on the horror story websites say.

He also told me that soft tissue injuries generally resolve on their own. Oh also the vet we went to, she said he had no swelling anywhere. But he is hurting tonight.

Thank you Dr. Marie, hope you are well and that baby is good!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Suzie,

Sorry to hear that Oreo hurt himself. I see cases like this all the time where a dog is obviously sore but we can't figure out why. Usually a couple of days of rest plus some anti-inflammatories do the trick.

This is a tough question to answer...Is Rimadyl safe in dogs with liver problems? Now, I should add here that Oreo doesn't really have liver disease...he's got vacuolar hepatopathy meaning that we are seeing changes in the liver cells but he is not clinically sick because of it.

The reason why Rimadyl gets a bad rap in connection to the liver is that there have been rare cases where dogs can get liver disease in connection to Rimadyl. When Rimadyl first came out several labs who received the drug had serious liver side effects. However, the risk of this type of problem is extremely small. Remember, every drug has potential side effects. The problem is that the Rimadyl side effect was highly publicized.

Be careful of what you read online. Recently there was an article about how a particular electronics company was found guilty of manufacturing reviews online and also making negative reviews against their competitors. I believe the same thing happens with drug companies. In my 14 years of practice I have seen one dog with serious issues connected to Rimadyl and I have seen probably thousands of dogs who had no problems at all with it.

Is Rimadyl hard on a dog's liver? Probably not. I would have no problem with giving a healthy dog (even one with elevated liver enzymes) a couple of days of Rimadyl. Granted, I use more of other anti-inflammatories such as Previcox or Metacam and that's probably what I would have done here. But, every case is different.

I think it's not a bad idea to take the on call vet's suggestion to cut the dose in half for now. On Monday, when your regular vet is open you can ask if they would be willing to prescribe a different medication just to put your mind at ease. But actually, if Oreo is still sore by Monday then he may need to be looked at again.

I hope he feels better soon. Be sure to rest him over the weekend.

Dr. Marie.

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Customer reply:

Hi Dr. Marie

Thanks for your reply! I am happy to report that I haven't had to give Oreo a dose of the Rimadyl at all. He did get a shot of it at the vets on Thursday and then he rested that night and Friday, he woke up, still a little sore but nothing that made me thought he needed anything. He was eating and seemed happy.

The vet I had spoken to after hours, was my vets partner. There are 5 small animal vets at the clinic and they rotate each night being on call. That is a service only for their patients. Which is nice. :-)

My vet and I have an email relationship, all I have to do is go to their website and contact her there. So I emailed her after I talked to her partner and after I sent you the email and I told her I was uncomfortable with Rimadyl and had talked to the on call vet. She agreed, I could cut down the dose if I felt more comfortable but she told me she felt for the short time he would be on this, it wouldn't harm him. I think she gave me 5 days worth.

I will write down your other suggestions though and if he should ever need pain meds again, I will ask for those. :-) But the injection sure seemed to help him. I had the receipt from the visit and the on call vet said he did get the right dosage for the injection. I'm guessing one injection had no affect on his health? He is due for a Bile Acid Test in a few months as it was suggested to us to do once a year after he had his liver biopsy done. I forget if I ever told you he is on Denamarin and that has brougt back his appetite. His whole life he was always a picky eater and would go 4 days without eating. Then once he as put on Denamarin, his appetite skyrocketed!

Anyhow, our lifestyle is naturally quiet, just him and me so he doesn't get too overexercised. I always value your opinion and I suspect in the days to come, he will continue to improve. It is frustrating that we couldn't exactly locate where his pain was.

Thank you again for your opinion, Dr. Marie!



Customer reply:

Hi Dr. Marie

Sorry for another email. At the time I wrote the last email to you, Oreo was fine. But out of the blue, he was in severe pain again and I had no choice but to give him a pain pill. I worry so much about that particular one. I dont know what to do. I work all weekend cant get in in when the clinic opens in 3 hours because I have to work. My next day off isnt until Thursday. I dont make enough money to be able to take him to the clinic after hours. So I will try to touch base with them before they close at noon on Saturday. I am so full of anxiety because I have no idea what kind of injury he has sustained. And of course the Rimadyll. Anyways the injection he had must have suddenly worn off, it lasted him 34 hours though. I just needed to vent, thank you.

Sign me very sad,


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that Oreo is sore again. Do not be afraid to give the Rimadyl. It will likely help him and a day or two is not going to hurt him.

I hope he is better soon.

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

Hi Dr. Marie

It has now been over 24 hours and he is doing alright, a bit mellow but he hasnt needed anything for pain, and when he is in pain, he gets very weird, he will go into a darkened room and sit in the corner with his head bowed and he cries. Or he will demand to go outside. From there, he goes to the corner of the fence with his back to me and cries. Then after that, he gets up, prances around, really odd, I guess it is his way of dealing with pain. For me, I have other ways like using language that isnt kind. Ok I wont be afraid to use the Rimadyl. I will look at it as his friend and it sure does work fast. I too hope he is better soon. I get so impatient. His appetite has been good, he just ate some greek plain yogurt. I am still on a mission to find out where that pain is coming from but it might be hard to do while the pain med is still working. Anyways, my vet wants me to contact her Monday or Tuesday to let her know how he is. So of course he is fine on the meds, a wee sleepier than when he is not on them, I dunno if that is common or not but that doesnt worry me. He seems to get about 36 hours out of a pill so I assume that is pretty good? I wouldnt be surprised if he might need another one sometime Sunday, but I am off work and will watch him carefully. Is it a good sign the longer they can do without the meds? Thank you for listening Dr. Marie!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It's hard to say whether or not it is a good sign that he lasts 36 hours on the meds. Every body is different with how they metabolize medications.

I hope he is feeling better today.

Dr. Marie

Customer reply:

Oreo isnt doing too bad, hasnt had meds since Saturday morning. However, on Sunday, he got loose for 2 hours, what a mess that was but found him and he seems none the worse for it.

Spoke to his vet on Monday to update her as she requested. He still has problems jumping up on the bed or the couch. So I have to help him. However, he has no problems hopping down. His vets seems to think perhaps it could be something with his spine and has suggested an Xray so we are going in for that on Thursday. Dr. Marie, is there anything else you think he would need besides that? Or is that a good starting place? If it is spinal, he has no problems stretching in bed, no pain, he also likes to stretch and do what I call a squiggly on the floor. :-)

Ok hope there is nothing with the spine, thanks Dr. Marie!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry I didn't get back to you yesterday Suzie. The flu has hit our house. :(

It sounds like your vet has a good plan. There really isn't much for me to add. I hope things are better soon!

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.