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The Safety Of NSAIDs For Dogs [Is CBD Similar?]

The Safety of NSAIDs for Dogs [Is CBD Similar?]

Humans and dogs have a relationship that dates back as far as 15,000 years ago. We give them food and shelter, and, in turn, they provide us with an everlasting love. If a dog has a medical issue, we are ultimately responsible for taking care of them. For instance, say your furry friend is suffering from pain and inflammation, the vet will likely prescribe NSAIDs for dogs. These common prescriptions, however, usually come with a list of side effects.


As dog owners, it’s up to us to find the right treatment for our pet. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a relatively new trend and is being used by many pet owners, but what does it actually do? Let’s look at what NSAIDs do for dogs and what CBD actually is.


What Are NSAIDs & What Are They Used For?

These are a class of drugs that are officially known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The primary use of NSAIDs for dogs is to reduce inflammation in the body. Whether it is acute or chronic inflammation, NSAIDs are traditionally prescribed. 


How NSAIDs Reduce Pain & Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s way of signaling the immune system as to where the healing needs to take place. The inflammation response consists of a change in blood flow, increasing permeability of blood vessels, and relocation of fluid (proteins and white blood cells) from circulation to the damaged area.


Inflammation is a common medical condition that has been studied and treated throughout human history. In the 1st century AD, the Roman medical writer Aulus Cornelius Celsus broke inflammation down into five cardinal signs. Today inflammation is still categorized by these same key symptoms:


  1. Redness in the tissues
  2. Increased heat
  3. Swelling
  4. Loss of function
  5. Pain


The most distressing of these symptoms is undoubtedly the pain. NSAIDs decrease the overlying inflammation that causes this pain by inhibiting the production of chemicals known as prostaglandins. 



Dog Inflammation Process


Prostaglandins & Inflammation

All mammals, including dogs and humans, produce and release these chemicals as a natural defense against injury, irritation, allergies, or infection. Prostaglandins are responsible for:


  1. Pain, fever, and/or inflammation
  2. Protecting the lining of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract)
  3. Maintaining the healthy flow of blood to the kidneys
  4. Keeping the mammalian body efficient at healing its wounds with healthy levels of blood clotting (this is achieved via the production of blood cells known as platelets)

NSAIDs & Cyclooxygenase

Furthermore, there is a chemical in the mammalian body named cyclooxygenase (COX) that is activated when there is damage to the cells. These COX compounds stimulate the production of prostaglandins, which in turn increase inflammation in the body.


It is important to note that there are both COX-1 and COX-2 types. Both of them increase prostaglandins, although only the COX-1 variant stimulates blood clotting and protects the lining of the GI tract.


NSAIDs work by inhibiting COX production, thereby inhibiting prostaglandin production. This may seem overly complicated, but let’s break it down like this:


NSAIDs for Dogs


So as we can see NSAIDs results in a decrease in inflammation, pain, and fever in the mammalian body. Depending on the type of NSAID, they can disrupt the production of COX-1, COX-2, or both. 


NSAIDs & Autoimmune Disorders

Sometimes veterinarians will prescribe NSAIDs for dogs to help treat the symptoms of an autoimmune disorder. This happens when a dog’s immune system mistakes its own tissue as foreign and in turn, the immune system starts to attack the body.


The inflammation associated with these disorders is usually chronic and can become extreme. This is due to the fact that the immune system persistently attacks itself because the signal remains present.


Some examples of autoimmune disorders are diabetes (type 1) Crohn’s disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. NSAIDs are the main part of treating these types of disorders.


Types of NSAIDs for Dogs

Many people may not realize that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not only monitors drugs for human consumption but also oversees veterinary medicine. They do this through their subdivision known as the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and they have approved the following six NSAIDs for veterinary consumption in dogs:


  1. Carprofen – This is the most widely prescribed NSAID in dogs and it is most commonly known under the brand name Rimadyl. However, it can also be sold as Carprieve, Levafen, Novox, Truprofen, or Rovera.
  2. Deracoxib – Known under the brand names Deramaxx or Doxidyl.
  3. Firocoxib – Also known as Previcox.
  4. Grapiprant – Also known as Galliprant. It is especially effective in treating chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. However, Gallaprant still has side effects.
  5. Meloxicam – Also known as Alloxate, Loxicom, Metacam, Meloxidyl, or Ostilox.
  6. Robenacoxib – Also known as Onsior. This NSAID is not safe for treating chronic inflammation or pain and it can only be used for a maximum of 3 days, usually as a postoperative painkiller.


All of these NSAIDs for dogs orally are administered orally (by mouth). However, sometimes they are given to the dogs via injection, particularly Robenacoxib. Furthermore, unlike NSAIDs for humans, which are available over-the-counter (OTC), all of these medications must be prescribed by a veterinarian.


Never Give Your Dog Human NSAIDs !!!never give human NSAIDs to Dogs

Although separate NSAIDs are made for humans and dogs, the NSAIDs made for humans should never be given to dogs! The fact is, NSAIDs that are intended for human consumption are outright poisonous for our furry friends!


Dogs cannot properly metabolize human NSAIDs, particularly those that inhibit COX-1 production. If your dog does happen to ingest one of these drugs, they may suffer catastrophic or fatal damage to their kidneys or internal organs.


According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), of the five human drugs that are the most toxic to dogs, the top four are all NSAIDs. They are:


  1. Aspirin (Bayer)
  2. Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin)
  3. Naproxen (Alleve)
  4. Indomethacin (Indocin)
  5. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)


Although most people assume that Tylenol is an NSAID, it is actually only related to that class of drugs. With the exception of Indocin, these NSAIDs are all extremely common and can be found in nearly every medicine cabinet, first aid kit, or kitchen drawer across the country.


As a consequence, it is unfortunately common that dogs find these drugs and end up ingesting them. If this happens, then your dog may suffer from:


  • Bloody diarrhea and/or severe vomiting
  • Severe GI tract distress
  • Serious ulcers
  • Severe loss of appetite
  • Excessive bleeding, both externally and internally
  • Catastrophic kidney and/or liver failure
  • Potential blindness due to chronic dry eye
  • Potentially irreversible damage to the joints
  • Possible death due to organ failure or internal bleeding


It is absolutely vital that you take every possible precaution to keep your dog away from these NSAIDs. Remember that although they are so helpful and harmless to us, they are absolute poison to them!


CBD vs NSAIDs for Dogs

Side Effects of NSAIDs For Dogs

Despite the various safeguards put in place by the FDA and CVM, the use of NSAIDs for dogs may still carry some risks. It’s possible that your dog may still develop some side effects from the NSAIDs that have been prescribed by your veterinarian. As with any veterinary treatment, it is always prudent to keep a watchful eye on your pooch and make sure that they are responding appropriately to the treatment in question. 


NSAIDs For Dogs (Side Effects To Look For)

  • Loss of appetite/Not eating
  • Change in drinking habits
  • Inflamed, scabby, or scratching their skin (changes of skin)
  • Yellowish color of skin, gums or the whites of the eyes.
  • Behavior Changes
  • Vomiting
  • Black stool (stool resembles the color of tar)


Most of these are self-explanatory; although “behavioral changes” refers to if your dog begins to act confused, agitated, lethargic, or even aggressive. Remember that dogs frequently react to negative mental states by becoming aggressive, so if you observe this behavior then you must contact your veterinarian immediately.


Furthermore, a “tarry stool” refers to any feces that are dark red, burgundy, or even black in color. This is due to blood being present, although it is not its usual bright red color because it passes through the GI tract.


The fact that there is blood present means that there are ulcers and internal bleeding because the NSAIDs are disrupting COX-1 production. This means your dog is not producing platelets to allow their blood to clot and that the lining of their GI tract is not protected. 


What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an exciting new herb that is being used in dogs as well as in humans. CBD oil is an extract from hemp plants (which are variants of cannabis plants).

While you may have heard of several pet owners using CBD for their dogs, it is important to note that CBD is not yet approved or meant to prevent, treat, or cure any diseases or ailments.

What we do know, however, is that CBD belongs to a class of chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. These cannabinoids interact with receptors located all over your dog’s body which make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS).


Endocannbinoid System In Dogs Holistapet


The ECS regulates all kinds of important functions in the mammalian body, including:


  1. Appetite levels
  2. Cardiovascular health
  3. Sleep cycles
  4. Expression of pain signals
  5. Immune system (including inflammation all over the body)
  6. Moods and/or mental states


The ECS is responsible for regulating overall health and wellness, kind of like a central processing unit in a powerful supercomputer. This entire system is made up of various cannabinoid receptors, of which there are two primary types:


  1. CB-1 receptors – Most frequently found in the central nervous system (CNS)
  2. CB-2 receptors – Most frequently found in the GI tract and immune system


CBD interacts with the ECS and its various receptors to help the mammalian body achieve a state of balance that is known as homeostasis. Using CBD, especially on a daily basis, will allow your dog to achieve this homeostasis and be in a state of optimal health and wellness.


Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

The cannabis plant has over 80 different cannabinoids that are part of its chemical makeup. The most common and widely known is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient in marijuana. It is closely related to CBD (you could even call them “chemical cousins”), although they differ in one crucial way. THC is psychoactive and CBD is not. This simply means that THC will get you high while CBD will not.


Remember your dog may respond to the psychoactive effects of THC with agitation or even aggression. CBD is just as useful as THC, but it completely bypasses these issues.


It is also very difficult to overdose on CBD. There is no case on the record of this ever happening, and if you give your dog “too much” they will simply get really drowsy and sleep it off.



CBD vs NSAIDs for Dogs


Can CBD Replace NSAIDs for Dogs?

As mentioned earlier, CBD has not yet been approved by the FDA to prevent, treat, or cure any diseases or ailments. As such, we recommend you conduct your own research when using CBD for your dog.

CBD may have soothing effects, and it may help promote an overall state of calmness in your dog.

For more information on CBD dosage for dogs, check out our custom dosing chart.


Combining CBD & NSAIDs For Dogs

Remember, it is always best to administer CBD under the guidance of a veterinarian. This is because CBD does interact with a group of liver enzymes (cytochrome P450). These enzymes are necessary for all dogs to metabolize approximately 60% of the veterinary medications that have been approved by the FDA and CVM.


This includes various NSAIDs as well as CBD itself. That means that while your dog’s cytochrome P450 is breaking down any CBD that you may have administered to your dog, it is not breaking down any NSAIDs that may also be present. There are ways to work around this, but it should be undertaken by someone with extensive knowledge in these various interactions.


Consequently, it is vital that you speak with your veterinarian to come up with a medicinal regimen that best suits your dog. Try any of Holistapet’s pure-vegan, 100% organic CBD products today so your dog can be it’s normal joyous and loving self! 🌱🐶





Marcin Ossowski

Marcin Ossowski is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from UCLA in 2007 with a major in linguistics and a minor in biology. During his time there, he undertook original research in neurolinguistics and cognitive science, specifically focusing on language disorders and dementia. Over the past decade, he has worked as a writer and researcher for several political consulting firms, taught English abroad in Poland, and ghostwritten two books. In his downtime, Marcin spends a lot of time outdoors and actively pursuing his passion for writing fiction, creative nonfiction, and satire.

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