Rimadyl Safety Questioned-Then Explained

Recently we received the following comment on http://www.mypetsdoctor.com/rimadyl-safe-and-effective .

“I know you will not let others see this and it speaks about your bias. If Rimadyl is so safe why is this happening again? It is your duty as a veterinarian to inform your clients of the dangers of Rimadyl, yet like so many veterinarians who sell the product, you refuse to see the dangers. I think this is irresponsible.”

 While the reader is entitled to his opinion, even about me (someone he doesn’t know), he is mistaken on several counts:

I have no bias, only experience. Unlike a minority of veterinarians and pet owners my experience with Rimadyl has been 100% positive. Am I aware of adverse reactions? Of course! It would be irresponsible and malpractice if I were not. Indeed, in thirty years of practice I have discontinued use of a number of medications based on my concern for my patients’ safety. My professional experience with Rimadyl, however, has been exceedingly good.

Our reader failed to read, or comprehend, one of the most important sentences in the post: “There is no such thing as a 100% safe drug.”

The package insert for Rimadyl clearly states, “All dogs should undergo a thorough history and physical examination before initiation of NSAID therapy. Appropriate laboratory tests (italics mine) to establish hematological and serum biochemistry baseline data prior to, and periodically during, administration should be considered.” Perhaps one of the reasons we have such good success with Rimadyl is that we simply follow the “rules” and choose our cases for NSAID therapy carefully. You say I “refuse to see the dangers.” In fact, I know the dangers of this medication and every other medication I dispense. It’s my job! It’s also my job to know that “There is no such thing as a 100% safe drug.” Following Pfizer’s recommendations, and the recommendations of dozens of board-certified veterinary internists, we perform Complete Blood Count (CBC), Chemistry Profile and Urinalysis (U/A) on every patient before beginning long-term NSAID therapy. Then, to be sure we catch problems early, we repeat the chemistry profile at an appropriate term after initiating treatment, and every 3-6 months thereafter, according to each individual patient’s needs. As with Boney, we even use Rimadyl in select cases in which pre-existing liver disease is present. The important factor is that we do so with eyes wide open and extreme caution by way of monitoring. To treat any patient blindly, then turn one’s back on him would be malpractice.

I agree wholeheartedly that it is my “duty as a veterinarian to inform your clients of the dangers of Rimadyl,” which is why I dispense the full package insert with every prescription of every NSAID we dispense.

Why are there so many lawsuits against NSAIDs for pets? We live in the most litigious society in the history of mankind. I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Within hours of the tragic explosion of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, immediately south of us, there were attorneys descending on us from out of state, some of whom, apparently, aren’t even licensed to practice in our state. The illegality of their actions didn’t stop them! Their oath not to solicit didn’t stop them! Using your favorite search engine, look up the following:

  • Rimadyl lawsuit
  • Metacam lawsuit
  • EtoGesic lawsuit
  • Deramaxx lawsuit
  • Previcox lawsuit
  • Celebrex lawsuit
  • Vioxx lawsuit
  • coffee in my 79-year-old lap lawsuit
  • Indeed, put any medication name in front of the word lawsuit and you’ll get thousands of results. People will sue about anything.

The package insert clearly states that no other NSAIDs are to be given along with Rimadyl, yet it is widely known that dog owners concurrently administer aspirin and other NSAIDs, along with contraindicated corticosteroids during NSAID courses of therapy.

The package insert goes on to give the standard warning that is as old as the practice of pharmacy, “Rimadyl should only be given to the dog for which it was prescribed. It should be given to your dog only for the condition for which it was prescribed.” The unwise practice takes several forms, (and is so common that I wrote a post about it):

  • Administering one pet’s medication to another pet
  • Administering medication prescribed for one problem when that problem no longer exists.
  • Administering medication to the wrong species (i.e.: giving dog medication to a cat).
  • Administering a person’s medication to a pet.

Oh, and one last thing the reader was mistaken about: I’m happy to publish his comment. Everything I believe in is out where anyone can see it.


  1. The veterinarian metioned Rimadyl as “doggy tylenol”. I gave her the recommended dosage for four days only. After 5 grand mal seizures and three weeks of a downhill slide physically and emotionally, my 10 year old dearly-loved Old English sheepdog collapsed last week. The whole nightmare has made me angry, sad and totally devastated. She had a problem lying down. I feel like I killed my best friend.

    • Laura, please accept our condolences on your loss. You certainly did not kill your best friend. You did what you were able to do. As much as I dislike disagreeing with my colleague, Rimadyl and Tylenol couldn’t be more different. Indeed, Tylenol is known to be deadly to dogs’ livers in many cases. You didn’t tell us why she was being given Rimadyl, but clearly something was wrong for you to have taken her to the doctor to begin with. Ten years of age is very old for an OE Sheepdog, and her seizures were probably caused by her illness, which was also the cause of her death. Were any laboratory tests performed? Any imaging, such as X-rays or ultrasound? Write back if you have more information. In Sympathy, Dr. Randolph.

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