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Previcox for Dogs: Safety, Side-Effects, and Alternative Medicine.

Previcox for dogs is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug designed to decrease pain associated with osteoarthritis in dogs. In some cases, it’s also used to control postoperative pain and inflammation associated with soft tissue and orthopedic surgery.

After your veterinarian prescribes a drug like Previcox for dogs, your next question is probably, “Is it safe?”  We’ve all heard horror stories about the side-effects of various drugs for dogs.  The thing is, do we really get the whole story?

This post talks about that and what it means for your dog. You’ll also learn about the “real” side-effects and whether there are any alternative options for this kind of pain in dogs.

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Is Previcox Safe to Give my Dog?

Previcox is considered safe for dogs and the most likely side-effects your dog will have include mild vomiting and diarrhea. Those two things, if mild and short-term, do not usually present serious consequences. However, if they continue and there’s a risk of dehydration in your dog, please consult with your veterinarian. 

More serious side-effects can, and do, occur.  I’m sure you’ve read several anecdotal stories about tragic side-effects of various medications for dogs.  The product package gives a list of the serious side-effects for a reason:  they happen. Sometimes serious side-effects are just the luck of the draw; other times, it’s because the dog had another underlying disease that contributed to the problem.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are notoriously bad for the stomach. That’s why it’s recommended you give Previcox with food.  This flavored chewable tablet should be given once per day based on your veterinarian’s recommendations.  Previcox isn’t considered safe in dogs with  kidney or liver disease, heart disease, or conditions that cause gastrointestinal ulcers or bleeding.

You might be interested in reading the European Medicines Agency informative outline on Previcox for dogs.

What is Previcox Prescribed For?

Previcox is designed to provide pain relief in dogs. While the medication does a good job of relieving mild to moderate pain, it can also be used in conjunction with other treatments or medications. 

The reason it might be used with other types of pain medication is to adequately block all of the pain pathways.   Homeopathic, natural, or “alternative” therapies like massage and physiotherapy can be added to the treatment plan for a faster whole-body recovery.

The following conditions are considered worthy of a Previcox prescription. 

Arthritis – Osteoarthritis in dogs

OSTEOARTHRITIS

Osteoarthritis is a really painful condition where the cartilage that cushions the joints degenerates.  The bones, eventually, begin to rub together causing significant pain. Osteoarthritis typically produces the most pain when trying to move the joint after a period of rest. 

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for arthritis. Previcox for dogs acts as a buffer from the pain so that the dog can resume normal everyday activities.  Without regular activity, the dog’s muscles can become weaker. Weight gain could become an issue and, when that happens, it just makes osteoarthritis that much more painful. 

ACL SURGERY

ACL Surgery (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the most common reasons for orthopedic surgery in dogs. It’s actually a type of knee injury to repair the torn ligament. 

A ligament is a band of connective tissue that connects two bones at a joint. In this case, the injury happens on one of the back (hind) knees as a result of sudden movement, running, jumping, etc.  The already strained or tired ligament is suddenly faced with a quick movement and rips or tears completely.  A torn ACL is a common, but painful condition in dogs. 

Surgery isn’t always the first line of treatment for a painful cruciate ligament injury.  With adequate rest and immobilization of the joint, the condition can improve over time.

The length of time it takes to repair the ACL without surgery depends on the severity of the injury. Like people, dogs recover at different rates. It could take anywhere from weeks to a full year for the ligament to heal. 

However, in the time it takes a dog’s ACL to heal (pre or post surgery), the dog has to deal with a lot of pain. He/she may not be able to put any weight on the leg.  Although rest is necessary for the ACL to heal, it’s also important for your dog to get some exercise in the meantime.

 The longer it takes the ACL to heal, and the longer your dog is out of commission, the greater the chance of muscle atrophy and weakness. 

For those who choose ACL surgery as an option, expect to receive a prescription for Previcox. In some cases, Previcox for dogs is supplemented with an additional pain medication like Tramadol or Gabapentin.  This helps block the pain at various pain pathways. 

Watch the following video on ACL pain in dogs

Cruciate Ligament Rupture in Dogs: Healing Without Surgery

FEMORAL HEAD OSTECTOMY

This purpose of a femoral head ostectomy is to remove the head and neck of the femur bone.  Normally, this procedure is a last-ditch effort to relieve the dog from severe pain.  For example, it might be attempted in dogs when no other pain medications are effective. 

This type of surgery is necessary to alleviate severe pain in dogs with a shattered or severely broken bone (for example, as the result of a car accident). It is also sometimes used in advanced osteoarthritis patients to relieve weight-bearing pain.

Dogs have undergone this type of surgery with success; however, pain medications like Previcox for dogs are typically administered postoperatively.

KNEECAP SURGERY (MEDIAL PATELLAR LUXATION)

A medial patellar luxation is, essentially, a dislocated kneecap in dogs.   Healthy functioning of the kneecap in dogs requires healthy bones and ligaments. The patella (knee cap) is actually a small bone that works beneath the tendon of the extensor muscles (quadriceps).   As you might guess, the extensor muscles are what give length and flexibility to certain parts of the body. 

Postoperative orthopedic surgery typically involves a prescription for pain relief in addition to exercises for rehabilitation and follow-up appointments with the veterinarian to check progress. 

In addition to Previcox for dogs, rehabilitation can include gentle massage, passive range-of-motion exercises, the application of cool compresses to the hip, and a gradual increase in exercise over time. 

The exercises noted above should only be attempted on the advice of a veterinarian. In fact, a professional canine physiotherapist might be called upon to give you pointers, tips, and tricks for administering some of these things at home.  It’s important to be very careful and patient with you dog whenever he/she has moderate to severe pain associated with osteoarthritis and other conditions.

Never force your dog to exercise beyond his/her current limitations. The idea is to keep at least minimal range-of-motion. This helps in the healing process and wards of muscle atrophy, dog depression, anxiety. The faster your dog recovers, the less time he/she needs to spend taking Previcox for dogs or other medications.

Can I Give a Little More Previcox if my Dog is Still in Pain?

A licensed veterinarian will prescribe Previcox based on the dog’s weight.  Never give more Previcox than prescribed unless you have cleared it with the veterinarian. 

The recommended dose for dogs 12 pounds and over is 5 mg per kilogram of body weight and can be used in dogs aged 7 weeks and over.  If your dog is not responding to Previcox, a licensed veterinarian may add another medication to help.

Multimodal approaches to pain management in dogs is nothing new. Rather than taking it upon yourself to adjust dosages, talk to the veterinarian for better options.  Remember…more Previcox means more chance of severe side-effects. 

Previcox cannot be accurately dosed for dogs under 12.5 pounds.

What are the Side Effects of Previcox for Dogs?

As noted above, all medications have side-effects. Some of the more severe (but rare) side effects include gastrointestinal, kidney, and/or liver complications.  The most common side effects include mild vomiting and diarrhea. 

-vomiting (most common and usually not severe)

-diarrhea (most common and usually not severe)

-dark tarry stool (signifying blood in the stool)

-increased thirst

-increased urination

-anemia 

-jaundice resulting in yellowing of the skin, gums, or eyes

-fatigue

-incoordination

-seizures

-behavioral issues 

If you notice your dog experiencing any of the above adverse reactions, please contact your veterinarian for an assessment.  Part of the “safety factor” for prescribing Previcox in the first place should involve a thorough clinical assessment of your dog. 

Your veterinarian will want to check for any underlying disease that might warrant a different medication for osteoarthritis. Dogs with kidney or liver dysfunction, for example, should not be prescribed Previcox. 

Many clinical studies including one found within the archives of Vetfolio.com tested the clinical effectiveness and safety in dogs.  The study was originally published in the journal Veterinary Therapeutics (ceased publication in 2010) and reports officially enrolling 1002 dogs.

As the trial began, 13.5% of these dogs were withdrawn (135 dogs). The reasons were highly varied and included non-compliance from owner, the advent of Hurricane Katrina, required surgery, and the development of other disease.

Why Would the Veterinarian Prescribe Previcox?

You already know that Previcox is prescribed to senior dogs with osteoarthritis or to reduce post-operative pain. However, it’s important to realize that this particular drug is usually only prescribed for severe pain.  Pain that affects your dog’s quality of life should be treated as early as possible. 

Dogs in severe pain may become aggressive, stop eating, lose weight, withdraw, or become depressed.  Dogs were meant to move and, unfortunately, the pain of osteoarthritis can severely restrict movement.  

If your dog is still relatively mobile and doesn’t exhibit severe signs of pain, talk to your veterinarian about the possibility of natural aids like glucosamine.  Glucosamine is sometimes added to quality dog food or taken as a supplement to support joint health. 

What Does “Multimodal” Pain Treatment Involve?

A multimodal approach to pain treatment involves using other means to block pain signals. There are various pain pathways in the body and sometimes one medication isn’t enough to address them all. 

Previcox for dogs is sometimes supplemented with an opioid like Tramadol (brand name Ultram) or Gabapentin, a “human” drug designed to treat seizures. In dogs, this medication can also help relieve severe and chronic pain.

You might be interested to know that, in some cases, gabapentin is used to relieve anxiety in dogs. Read Gabapentin for Dogs: Uses, Side-effects, and Weaning.

Previcox is available by prescription only. All new prescriptions should come with the manufacturers insert. This insert is meant to provide a full overview of the drug including all possible side-effects, warnings, precautions, storage requirements, a sampling of clinical studies performed, how the drug is supplied, and a list of resources used.

NOTE: If your veterinarian has prescribed Previcox for your dog (whether for osteoarthritis or post-operative pain), follow his/her advice regardless of what you read elsewhere. 

Natural or Alternative Therapy for Osteoarthritis Joint Pain

In addition to Previcox for dogs, the veterinarian may suggest other pain-relief including additional medications or the assistance of a physiotherapist trained to work with injured animals.  Different health problems call for different treatment options. In some cases, the use of herbal supplements or homeopathic treatment isn’t advised. However, in this case, the multimodal approach to treatment could include a variety of things including massage, acupressure, water therapy, range of motion exercises, and immune-boosting supplements.  

If your dog is already on Previcox for dogs or is taking other NSAID products, please let your veterinarian know. Previcox is safe when used properly, but there are many other types of over-the-counter medications and supplements that should not be given to a dog who is taking Previcox. Some of those medications include other products that contain non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, like Aspirin.

MASSAGE

Massage can either be performed by a professional canine massage therapist or at home with proper instruction. Never massage directly on the pain point, and watch for signs of discomfort. Ideally, you want to increase blood flow to the injured area in order to facilitate faster healing. The way to do that is to use gentle circular and sweeping motions over the dog’s body. Start around the dog’s chest or back and work your way towards the injured area without actually touching it.

To do this at home, your dog  needs to be relaxed and trusting. If a dog is in considerable pain, he may not let you get too close.  Respect the dog. You can always try again another day when he/she is feeling better. In the meantime, continue giving the dog’s prescription.

WATER THERAPY

Physical therapists offer swimming therapy for dogs unable to exercise the traditional way. As we all know, the buoyancy of water protects the joints from impact while strengthening the muscles.  Water therapy burns extra calories and keeps the dog’s strength up while healing. It’s also a great way to bond with  your pet. However, even if I had my own pool I would still consult with a professional in the beginning. The key to recovery is applying these techniques the right way from day one.

SHORT WALKS

If the injury is fresh or your dog has just come out of surgery, all exercise should be curtailed until the veterinarian says it’s safe to resume. When that time comes, it’s important to start the dog very slowly. In fact, the first walk might just be around the house. Walks should be slow and steady. However, if your dog refuses to move or is showing signs of extreme pain, let it go. You can always pick up where you left off on another day.  If your dog continues to act this way over the next week or so, contact the veterinarian.  

NUTRITION

Previcox for dogs can cause stomach upset and mild diarrhea. The last thing you want to do is give your dog foods that will make those side-effects worse. If your dog is suffering tummy upset, you could try a bland diet for a few days.  A bland diet consists of boiled chicken and rice 

 Dogs with too much fiber can make an upset tummy worse. Worried about dehydration? Consult with the veterinarian. 

You might be interested in reading this:  Is Pedialyte Good for Dogs?

SUPPLEMENTS

As a member of several online dog forums, I’ve discovered (anecdotally) that some individuals have given their dog the following supplements to aid in pain management, especially related to a torn ACL. It seemed interesting, but as I read further, I realized that the dog owner claims the supplement worked “miracles” and that the dog was totally healed one year later. 

Well, the reality is that most dogs will heal on their own without any additional supplements, especially in that kind of timeframe.  I’m not saying supplements don’t work, I’m suggesting you consider all of the angles before jumping on the bandwagon. 

There are plenty of times when supplements can be used safely in dogs.  However, if the veterinarian has prescribed Previcox for dogs, please be sure to ask the doctor about the following two supplements before adding to your dog’s regimen. 

Yucca Root

Companies like 1-800-PetMeds sell this product which claims it is good for dogs with joint problems. This plant is more of a nutritional aid because it contains Vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorous, protein and some B vitamins. It’s the compounds found in the yucca root (known as saponins) that are linked to healing properties.  These saponins, when taken in small amounts, are thought to “clean up” the mucous membranes of the small intestine. That action helps the body better absorb nutrients from their regular diet.

While Yucca Root is considered “generally safe” by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, it’s important to keep in mind the saponin compounds inherent in the plant.  These compounds may cause cases of intestinal bloat and other digestive problems.

Mixing this type of supplement with Previcox for dogs may not be a good combination.  Please talk to your veterinarian if you’re considering this type of supplementation. 

If you remember from the top, Previcox is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.  Yucca root, however, is considered to be steroidal.  Therefore, administering the two together doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Cannabinoids (CBD)

Cornell University has recently taken on the challenge of researching the effects of CBD on pain management, especially pain associated with conditions like arthritis in dogs.

Homeopathic Arnica

If your dog has a mild sprain or strain that doesn’t require much more than rest and limited exercise for a while, homeopathic arnica is a safe option to try. 

You can purchase homeopathic arnica at local department stores, health food markets, homeopathic clinics, and online. 

Again, please make sure this is a good option for your dog before adding it to the Previcox for dogs treatment plan. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

While most natural supplements or nutritional aids are felt safe, they can still counteract or interact with prescription medications 

There’s a lot to Summarize!

In the whole scheme of things, evidence points to the overall safety of Previcox for dogs. The veterinarian may add an additional pain medication in order to treat and block more pain pathways.  Home treatments like massage and range-of-motion exercises can be useful but should be done slowly and carefully to avoid further pain. 

I am not a veterinarian, but it’s my opinion that people tend to publish the worst-case scenarios. Meanwhile, thousands of other dogs are being treated safely. Previcox, as mentioned above, does have some side-effects. However, if your veterinarian knows your dog’s medical history and is aware of any other medications (over-the-counter, herbal, homeopathic, or nutritional supplements), then he’s in good hands.  

Once on Previcox, make sure to keep the follow-up appointments. These appointments will help catch any adverse effects sooner.  Also, don’t hesitate to contact the veterinarian if you suspect something just isn’t right in your dog after taking Previcox.

I want to take a minute to thank you for reading this post! Please let me know how y0ur dog is and whether your dog was able to take Previcox with few side-effects or not.  Please email me at [email protected]  You can also send me a comment using the form below.

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