Carprofen is prescribed for treat osteoarthritis in dogs and is also used to provide pain relief after surgery.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (also called Degenerative Joint Disease or DJD) refers to the medical condition when your pet has progressively worsening inflammation of a joint.  In a healthy joint, which moves smoothly and painlessly, cartilage acts as a cushion - when the cartilage in the joint starts deteriorating, or breaking down, it is called osteoarthritis. This can happen due to “wear & tear” or due to disease, age, injury, repetitive stress, or obesity. 


You may have seen your dog show pain, or a decreased range of motion or your pet may develop inflammation or bone spurs.  Joints most likely to be affected are the legs and lower back.   


Dogs are really good at hiding their pain, so the early symptoms of osteoarthritis may not be immediately seen by pet owners.  Here are some signs to watch for in your dog:

  • Stiffness, lameness, limping, or difficulty getting up
  • Lethargy, or reluctance to run, jump, or play
  • Weight gain
  • Pain when petted or touched
  • Irritability or changes in behavior
  • Difficulty posturing to urinate or defecate, or having accidents in the house
  • Loss of muscle mass over the limbs and spine


You should discuss any changes with your vet, as vets estimate that 1 in 5 dogs suffer from osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis can be managed!

Fortunately, osteoarthritis in dogs can be managed.  With medicine, such as Carprofen, your dog’s pain can be managed and joint inflammation decreased, and this means their movement is improved. This improves your pet’s quality of life!


Other treatments may be recommended for your dog, such as physiotherapy or changes in diet.  For dogs that have developed or who are at risk of developing osteoarthritis, maintaining a healthy weight is very important.

What is Carprofen?

Carprofen is both the brand name of the drug, and the name of the active ingredient.  It is an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that acts as pain relief and treats joint inflammation and is in the same family of drugs as ibuprofen. (Obviously, it is NOT exactly the same as ibuprofen, which is not for use in dogs - never give your dog ibuprofen or other human drugs!) Carprofen is sold as Rimadyl or Novox in some parts of the world.

Carprofen slows down or stops the body producing an enzyme called COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2).  This enzyme produces prostaglandins - substances that are primarily responsible for inflammation and pain, and so Carprofen works to control pain and inflammation at the source.

Carprofen can’t cure osteoarthritis in dogs - but it starts treating pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis within hours of giving them the first dose.

What can I expect when my dog starts on Carprofen?

  • Carprofen works fast, from the very first dose.  By controlling the pain and inflammation in the joint, many dogs show improvement in mobility within days 
  • You should discuss your dog’s response to Carprofen with your vet, who will determine if your dog is responding as expected, and what the ongoing dose of Carprofen should be.

How to give Carprofen to my dog?

Carprofen comes in flavored, chewable tablets that most dogs love to take!  It can be given with or without food. Your vet will tell you whether your dog should take Carprofen once or twice a day. 

Storage of Carprofen

The manufacturer of Carprofen recommends that it be stored at room temperature (below 30 degrees).

Be careful where you store Carprofen - because it is a tasty chewable, dogs might try to get to it and eat it - store it out of reach of your dog to prevent an accidental overdose.

Who should NOT take Carprofen?

  • Carprofen isn’t used for cats - do NOT give it to a cat.
  • If your dog has previously shown adverse reactions to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), then this product shouldn’t be used
  • Tests haven’t been undertaken to determine the safety of Carprofen for puppies, breeding, pregnant or lactating animals, or dogs with a bleeding disorder. 
  • Some drugs don’t work as well, if your pet is also taking Carprofen, and there are drugs that cannot be taken with Carprofen.  For this reason, please make sure that you tell your vet about all other medications that your dog is taking, including vitamins, supplements and herbal therapies.  

What if I give too much Carprofen? What if I miss a dose of Carprofen or give the wrong dose of Carprofen?
Administration of drug issues

If you miss giving a dose of Carprofen, don’t worry.  If you remember a missed dose, give the dose as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose, and continue with the regular schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once.

Because Carprofen is a tasty chewable, it might smell very yummy to your dog - make sure you keep it out of reach! If your dog has taken too much Carprofen, or you suspect an overdose, call your vet immediately, and monitor your dog for vomiting.

Possible side effects 

Like all NSAID medicines, Carprofen can cause some side effects, although it is generally well tolerated. Issues can involve the digestive tract (vomiting or decreased food consumption, or diarrhea or unusual stools), or liver and kidney problems (change in amount of water drunk, change in urine).

As with any medication, if you are concerned about a possible side effect of Carprofen, stop treatment and contact your vet immediately. 

Can I buy Carprofen online?

Carprofen is a prescription medicine, and you can buy it online from PetScripts once you have a script (prescription) from your vet.  Please ensure that you have read the How to Order page before ordering this item.


This information is not intended nor is it implied to be a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice or any information contained on or in any product packaging or labels. Always seek the advice of your Veterinarian, Pharmacist, or qualified health provider when starting any new medical treatment, continuing with medical treatment or with any questions you may have regarding your animal's medical condition. Professional advice is required for each particular illness, disease, infection, injury or other medical condition and for dosages of the pharmaceutical product supplied via this website. You take full and total responsibility for what you do with this information and any resulting outcomes from your actions.