Clinical pharmacology of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in dogs

Vet Anaesth Analg. 2012 Jan;39(1):69-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2995.2011.00675.x.


Objectives: To discuss the clinical pharmacology of currently licensed veterinary NSAIDs and to review gastrointestinal and renal adverse effects as well as drug-drug interactions that have been reported with these drugs. To review the use of NSAIDs in the peri-operative setting and their use in patients with osteoarthritis. To further review the reported effects of NSAIDs on canine articular cartilage and liver as well as the clinical relevance of a washout period.

Databases used: PubMed, CAB abstracts and Google Scholar using dog, dogs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and NSAID(s) as keywords.

Conclusions: A good understanding of the mechanisms by which NSAIDs elicit their analgesic effect is essential in order to minimize adverse effects and drug-drug interactions. Cyclooxygenase (COX) is present in at least two active isoforms in the body and is the primary pharmacologic target of NSAIDs. Inhibition of COX is associated with the analgesic effects of NSAIDs. COX is present in the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys, along with other areas of the body, and is also the likely reason for many adverse effects including gastrointestinal and renal adverse effects. The newer veterinary approved NSAIDs have a lower frequency of gastrointestinal adverse effects in dogs compared to drugs such as aspirin, ketoprofen and flunixin, which may be due to differential effects on the COX isoforms. There are currently no published reports demonstrating that the newer NSAIDs are associated with fewer renal or hepatic adverse effects in dogs. NSAIDs remain the cornerstone of oral therapy for osteoarthritis unless contraindicated by intolerance, concurrent therapies or underlying medical conditions. NSAIDs are also effective and frequently used for the management of post-operative pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Pain Management / adverse effects
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Management / veterinary*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors