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Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  Small animal medicine and surgery - 16 years experience in BC, California and Ontario
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Is it safe to give my old dog diclofenac for his arthritis

Resolved Question:

Is it safe to give my old dog diclofenac for his arthritis
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.

Hi there,

Welcome to Just Answer!

I would like to help you and your dog with this question, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

How long has Murphy been on the Metacam?

Has he had any blood tests done that show problems with his liver and kidneys?


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
He gets its every other day. His blood tests r just slightly below normal but I lost his sister through kidney failure and she was on metacam all the time and I know it is a side affect of metacam
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 7 years ago.

The very short answer to your question is NO! It is absolutely unsafe to give diclofenac to dogs.

This medication is also an NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like the metacam, but it is highly ulcerogenic in the dog. That means it is almost guaranteed to cause a stomach ulcer. It is so likely to cause a stomach ulcer that we even have to be cautious when we use it in eyedrops (sometimes given this way for things like glaucoma).

Diclofenac is never, ever used to treat arthritis in dogs, I'm afraid.

Now, I do understand your concerns for Murphy, and there are lots of things you can do to help him. There are other medications that can be added in, so as to minimize the need for Metacam, and there are other prescription NSAIDs that can be used that are metabolized more by the liver and less by the kidneys.

so, there are some options!

When I diagnose a dog with arthritis, my treatment plan is as follows:

1. Be lean! Every extra pound that a dog carries on sore joints just makes the problem worse.

So, the single most effective thing you can do to help a dog with sore joints is to make sure he is slim - even a little bit on the skinny side of normal. It is just going to make him so much younger!

Check to see how much he weighed when he was 2 years old. Has he gained since then?

2. Try glucosamine. This supplement is very safe, and is helpful in the majority of dogs. It usually takes 6-8 weeks on this supplement to see improvement.

Doses I use are:

250-500mg for 10-25lb.
500mg-1000mg for25-50lb.(NNN) NNN-NNNNg for 50-100lbs.
1,000mg-2,000mg for over 100 lbs.

I suggest these amounts be given 3 times daily for 2 months, then drop to twice daily thereafter.

Here are some links:

3. Improve muscle mass with swimming. If your dog likes to swim this is such a great exercise because it builds up the muscles around the joint, which stabilizes them, but causes none of the strain in the joints that running does.

4. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids

These are very helpful!

With my arthritic dog patients, I put them on a dietary source of essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids) daily added to the food. Your vet would be able to provide these for you. These do not provide instant relief, but help to decrease inflammation in the body. Again, it takes about 8 weeks to see improvement.

Some brands are DermCaps and EFA-Z

5. Turmeric (curcumin)

Yes, this is the spice that you purchase at your grocery store! Make sure it is fresh. You can purchase empty capsules from a pharmacy and put the turmeric in them, or you can mix it in with some tasty canned food or human baby food in meat flavours (make sure there are no onions or onion powder in the baby food).

The dose is 1/4 tsp given once daily for a small dog or a cat, up to 1 tsp once daily for a large dog. Many humans take this to help with arthritis, and it seems to be very helpful for pets, too!

6. Consider other prescription medications.

Your veterinarian has a selection of very effective and safe medications to treat the pain and inflammation of arthritis.

Some common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that might be prescribed are:
Metacam -
Etogesic -

Deramaxx -

Other options to consider are:
Tramadol -
Gabapentin (which can be given together with Tramadol) -

Of these, I would have to say that my favourite is Metacam. I have had SUCH good results with it, and rarely see any problems. When I want to minimize its use, as with kidney or liver disease, then I add in the Tramadol and Gabapentin.

7 Cartrophen - This injectible drug is a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (p-gag) and I have used it in hundreds of patients. I have never had one vomit! In an exhaustive study of 70 000 dogs, exactly TWO dogs vomited, and one had diarrhea upon injection. I have found improvement in about 80% of dog that have been on this medication and strongly recommend it.

More about it here:

8. Also, many people with joint pain report that a warm compress is soothing, and your dog may appreciate that too.

You can do this by making a wet towel compress. Place a small wet towel, folded into a zip-lok bag (unzipped!) and heat for about 2 minutes in the microwave. Remove and press all the air out. Make sure it is not too hot! You may want to put another towel around it, and then gently place over your dog's sore area.

9 Provide your dog with a padded bed large enough to stretch out on so he can sleep in luxury!

10. To help your dog to get up the stairs at night, I would recommend using a "sling" that you can make yourself.

Take a long bath towel, and fold it 3 or 4 times lengthwise, so that you have a long and thin shape. Put this under his belly, as far back as possible, so it is under his hips. Now, bring the ends up over his back so that you can hold the ends above him. With this, you can lift almost all his weight by using this sling, and thus really help him up the stairs. He can walk himself, with you right beside him taking his weight on the sling to help him. This is a really good way to help him up stairs or up into the car - or any time he has to go UP!

Alternatively, you could consider the “Bottoms Up” leash to help him with stairs:

For further information about arthritis I will give you these links:

So, short answer: No on the diclofenac, but there are lots of other options!

I hope that helps!

If this has been helpful, please accept my answer and leave feedback. If you need more information, just click on reply and I will be here to provide it.

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.

Best wishes to you and to your dog!


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