Return to the Pet Arthritis Resource Center
Truth About Rimadyl Side Effects
Dangerous & Deadly...
-- The real experiences of the owners of pets
on Rimadyl --
Yellow Lab Reacts after 10 Days on Rimadyl; Is Euthanized
an E-mail received December 7, 2001:
beloved Yellow Lab Bayfield (Biff for short) was 11 years old when
he started to slow down considerably due to arthritis. The vet had
him on EtoGesic without much success. I asked about other options.
Rimadyl was recommended. I immediately expressed concern, as I had
heard reports of negative side effects of Rimadyl. However, I was
assured that they had seen promising results and that he would be
monitored. I eventually agreed to give it a try.
a couple of days of starting Rimadyl, Biff perked up and was moving
freely. We were optimistic. However, within approximately 10 days,
he started vomiting large quantities of blood. Alarmed, we took
him immediately to the vet. The vet felt there was a pre-existing
condition that was complicated by the effects of old age. We took
Biff home and, within a month, he became lethargic, could not stand,
became incontinent and could no longer eat or drink. Biff, who was
just one, big, goofy Lab with a heart of pure gold looked so sad
and as if he was in a great deal of pain. His condition deteriorated
so quickly, we were at a loss as to what to do. Our vet could offer
us no hope. We finally decided to have the vet come to our house
and put him down.
guilt I feel is tremendous. I wish I had known that vomiting blood
was the 'classic' initial symptom of a reaction to Rimadyl. I wish
I had known there was a possible 'treatment' for a reaction. I cannot
believe that Pfizer can continue to dispense this medication. This
just should not have happened. Other than the arthritis, Biff was
in great health. Our other Lab, Jesse, is 13 1/2 years old ...also
with arthritis. She will never go on Rimadyl. We have changed her
diet to include holistic remedies, and she is doing remarkably well.
I am writing this in the hopes that no one else has to go through
what we did...."
Dies within Days of Beginning Rimadyl Therapy
an E-mail received November 23, 2001:
found your website after my Borzoi died suddenly following a course
of Rimadyl. What alarms me is that it has been four years since
the concerns about Rimadyl began to surface, and yet I was totally
unaware of the most serious concerns (sudden, lethal adverse reactions),
as was my veterinarian.
my Borzoi, was 10-1/2 years old and slowing down considerably due
to arthritis. We had him on coated aspirin and glucosamine and chondroitin
sulfate for six months and then last week when I asked if there
was more we could do for him, our vet suggested either Rimadyl or
Metacam (not available in the U.S. yet). He said there could be
potential problems with long-term use of either of these drugs,
but that we would do regular blood tests to catch any such problems
before they did any serious damage. I chose Rimadyl because he said
he'd seen very good results with it and I thought it would be easier
for me to administer a tablet than a liquid medication with Josh.
went home with a sample 10-day supply to see if the product had
any value before committing to a larger supply. Josh weighed 91
pounds and the dosage was two capsules at 100 mg each per day, in
combination with the glucosamine and chondroitin. Within 24 hours
the results were dramatic. Josh walked with greater ease and people
commented on the new spring in his step. The very first day, he
chose a longer route for our walk, where in recent weeks he'd deliberately
sought the short cuts. But within three days, he started to slow
down a bit. On the fourth evening, he seemed to have lost his appetite.
The next morning I found him in great distress, panting and gagging.
When I urged him to get up, his hind end totally collapsed and he
couldn't move his back legs.
vet made a house call with an assistant and they carried Josh out
on a stretcher. X-rays showed his spine was 'like that of a two-year-old.'
Our vet said the symptoms suggested a central nervous system problem.
Josh did not get any Rimadyl that day. With his condition deteriorating
into lethargy and almost paralysis of the hind quarters by that
night, our vet gave him a cortisone treatment. The next morning
Josh was worse, clearly in misery. He didn't even acknowledge my
arrival with any sign of hope or pleasure. Our vet could offer no
further treatment suggestions and predicted Josh could be dead within
a couple of days. I couldn't bear to see him in such distress and
in the absence of any hope of improvement decided to euthanize him
no time was the subject of Rimadyl raised as a possible cause. Then
I recalled a friend a couple of years ago telling me she had met
a drug company rep at a conference and the rep had told her one
of their canine arthritis drugs was killing dogs. Although I couldn't
believe a drug that was known to be killing dogs could still be
on the market two years later, I did an Internet search on Rimadyl
today only to discover it was this drug she was talking about and
that it was still widely in use and obviously still not as well
understood as it should be by veterinarians.
vet is a thorough, well-respected professional who spends all kinds
of time with me and my pets during our visits to explain all the
possibilities and options in great detail -- so he wasn't being
negligent. We both talked with the Pfizer Canada vet, who kindly
but adroitly seized on aspects of Josh's medical history -- a brief
episode of neck pain four years ago, a 10-pound weight loss this
past year (which may or may not be significant in a member of such
a large breed who was a fussy eater) -- to suggest Josh succumbed
to an underlying condition rather than Rimadyl. Of course, without
an autopsy, there's no way to definitely implicate Rimadyl. However,
my vet and I are still suspicious. He says he's 'on the fence' on
this one and will definitely approach Rimadyl with far more caution
in the future.
hope you will pass this information on to people who should have
it so as to prevent any more suspicious deaths. Josh's symptoms
and story are similar enough to others on this site, that I feel
their connection to Rimadyl is more than coincidence. I can't know
for sure if the outcome would have been any different without Rimadyl,
but if I'd known of all these other cases and the questions surrounding
Rimadyl, I wouldn't have chosen to use it on Josh. Respectfully,
Marylu Walters, Edmonton, AB Canada
Given Simultaneously with Prednisone; No Baseline Tests Done; Side
Effects Warnings Not Given...Fatal Outcome
an E-mail received November 28, 2001:
Tink was 13 years old....old perhaps in some people's mind but not
in ours. On 5/8/01, during a routine exam of Tink, my wife asked
our vet if there was anything we could give Tink for her slight
limp and suspected arthritis. The vet gave us two sample bottles
of Rimadyl. No blood test done. We gave her 75mg twice a day. When
it ran out we decided to continue with it, basically because at
that time we couldn't see that it was hurting her at all. The vet
had already given his blessing to get more if we needed it.
5/30/01, we purchased a large bottle of Rimadyl right from the receptionist
at the same animal clinic; we did not have to see the vet to do
so. By 7/03/01, Tink didn't seem to quite herself; among other things
her energy level had gone down somewhat. So back to the same vet
she went. This time he prescribed Prednisone because he said she
had an enlarged heart, and he took some x-rays. No mention was made
of the Rimadyl.
8/29/01, she was back to the vet because she had been coughing and
gagging quite a bit. A different vet at the same clinic saw her
and prescribed Cephalexin 500mg. The Rimadyl was almost gone, so
my wife asked this different vet about getting another bottle. She
also informed this vet (in case he hadn't seen it on Tink's chart),
that Tink was also on Prednisone for her enlarged heart. This vet
was somewhat puzzled to learn that Tink was taking both medicines
at the same time....not because he said they were not compatible
with each other but because they both contained anti-inflammatory
agents that were basically doing the same thing. He suggested we
cut back on the Rimadyl a little. Still no blood tests done on her.
We then decreased the Rimadyl to one 75mg a day and most of the
time she only got about half of that a day.
this time she was also showing some signs of incontinence....a dribble
here and there, whenever she got to her feet. Getting to her feet
was also becoming much harder. We thought that the incontinence
and struggling to her feet were just signs of age. By 11/12/01,
we started to notice a red tinge to some of the urine drops on the
floor. So we took her to the vet again. This time, the first vet
saw her and said she had a bladder infection and prescribed SMZ
TMP Double S, an anti-biotic. We gave her the medicine for a week,
along with the other two she was already taking and didn't notice
an improvement with the blood in her urine.
11/19/01, when the antibiotic ran out, we called the vet and he
said to get some more and try it for another week. Also on this
morning she vomited and just didn't want to get up. We were reluctant
at first to call the vet because we both had the feeling from talking
with him that he would suggest bringing her in and 'putting her
down.' By 11/21/01, all she wanted to do was lie down, though she
was able to still go outside (after we got her on her feet) and
do her business. I think pride in herself was the energy that enabled
her to do even that. I called the vet and described the symptoms
and his answer was 'She's old.....she's got a lot wrong with her...I
had to think about doing the right thing.... he could try and drag
out her life for her if that's what we wanted, but it probably wasn't
fair to her.' And on and so on.
11/24/01, we stopped the antibiotic because we weren't finding as
much blood as before and because I thought she might be having some
kind of adverse reaction to the stuff. For the next two days ,we
spent all the time with her. She looked so weak and sad, and so
very pathetic. The only thing that brought her to a sitting position
during that time was if you offered her a snack, which by this time
we were giving her all her favorites foods and treats. Once encouraged
she would also drink a little. We made an appointment for 3:00 PM
last Monday, 11/26/01. I carried her to the car, held her little
head in my hands while my wife drove to the clinic. Once there,
we still hoped for a miracle. We described again the symptoms that
we thought had come on very quickly. But the vet told us that 'her
time had come....we were doing the right thing.' He also commented
on what we had also noticed, that her stomach had became a little
bloated and distended.
held her and cried like I'm crying now and she went to sleep for
the last time in our arms. I carried her back to the car and she
came home for the last time. Yesterday, Tuesday, 11/27/01, trying
to get a handle on the heartache and grief, I looked around the
Internet at the different 'dog' sites. When I got to srdogs and
read about Rimadyl, I was shocked. Tink had vomited, she did have
the blood in her urine, she had become somewhat incontinent, she
had become weak and lethargic, she was stumbling, struggling and
having a hard time getting to her feet and maintaining her balance,
and her appetite had decreased a lot.....all in a matter of a few
have spoken to our vet about our concerns, and after repeating all
Tink's symptoms to him again and saying that they seemed to match
a lot of the side effects associated with Rimadyl, he said they
also matched symptoms of old age in a dog too. He claims he didn't
know she was still on Rimadyl because he wasn't the one who handed
them to us when we went back twice for the refills.(Makes you wonder
about her chart.) He also says that he never would have prescribed
the Rimadyl and Prednisone together if he had known Tink was still
on the Rimadyl. But he believes through all his 'experience' that
the symptoms she had, that had come on so quickly, were not related
to Rimadyl, with or without the Prednisone. 'She was just old and
her time had come, and we were right in what we did.' When I asked
why a blood test was never done during all of this, he said he didn't
believe it was worth the money....and that he had dispensed a lot
of Rimadyl without any tests. He said that Pfizer may recommend
a test before and during, but it is not required. He was sorry that
she didn't live to be 16, but "not all dogs do", he said.
& Paula Card
Lab Begins EtoGesic Therapy for Arthritis; Is Switched to Rimadyl.....Then
an E-mail received August 13, 2001: "Our beloved Betsy, a Black
Lab, had a slight problem with arthritis. On June 20, the vet prescribed
Etogesic, which, within one week, caused vomiting, diarrhea and
loss of appetite. The vet recommended withdrawing the drug, and
she immediately improved. The vet then recommended Rimadyl, telling
us that there were some adverse effects, but that they were very
rare. They tested Betsy's blood and liver, which were both normal,
and told us that she was very healthy.
two weeks of beginning Rimadyl, Betsy began vomiting blood. The
next night she passed blood through the bowel and lost all energy;
she was unable to walk. I took her to the vet, who kept saying it
was probably intestinal cancer and that they would test for it.
Each day, she became progressively worse. It was never mentioned
that Rimadyl could be lethal to Labs. We were waiting for results
of another cancer test when Betsy passed away at the vet's, two-and-a-half
weeks after starting Rimadyl. An autopsy showed that both EtoGesic
and Rimadyl were implicated in her death.
hearts are broken. We need to do something more to warn others.
I urge everyone to please let us know if this has happened to you.
We need to get this information to the manufacturers of these drugs
and to the FDA, and to get it out to the public, as well.
Adams in Memory of Betsy
Consumer Information Sheet NOT Distributed!! Dog Dies of Liver Failure.....
Received April 16, 2001: "Hello....I just lost my 8-year-old
Lab yesterday. The cause was liver failure. We put her on Rimadyl
exactly four weeks ago. She got sick the fourth week --- vomiting,
not eating, lethargy.... all the indicators....indicators I subsequently
found on the Internet. Unfortunately, I wasn't given a sheet to
warn me what to look for. She appeared to have a seizure Saturday
night, and we took her to an emergency vet to put her on i.v. meds
and fluids. I put her down Easter Sunday morning. The more I read,
the more I am sad and disappointed. I would have watched more carefully,
had I known more about the risk I was taking.
have a case number with Pfizer. They are paying (I think) for the
autopsy. I still have many questions....... and have to wonder about
liability on Pfizer's part. I'm sure Rimadyl is a very helpful drug.
I am, however, also quite sure it is what shortened my dog's life.
I feel a blood test should be required before the drug is prescribed,
or as a follow up before long-term prescriptions are given. Can
you give any suggestions? Where should I look? What should I do?
I would like to prevent this happening to other dogs. I would like
to do something for them, for their loving owners, and for Snickers.
-- "Our most beloved and cherished 14-year-old yellow Labrador
Retriever (Manda) is dying as a result of being on Rimadyl for three
weeks. The last three days she has been receiving IV therapy in
order to stay alive. She has displayed every single symptom that
we have read about on various websites as signs of Rimadyl poisoning.
Up to this point, she was as healthy as a horse, with the exception
of some stiffness in her right hind leg, which our vet originally
diagnosed as arthritis and for which she was given Rimadyl. (It
was subsequently re-evaluated as a torn ligament.) We are in desperate
need of help from anyone who may direct us about treatment . We
have read that dogs HAVE recovered from this horrendous plight,
and need as much information as we can possibly obtain in order
to restore our Manda.
-- It was when I had read the reactions to Rimadyl on the srdogs
site that I realized how ill my dog was. Sadly, the outcome was
an unhappy one; he was put to sleep on December 9, 2000. I was too
upset to have a post mortem carried out and so can never prove it
was about the possible side effects of this drug, which may have
caused me to act faster than I did. He had a cruciate ligament operation
and I thought the initial symptoms of lethargy and loss of appetite
were due to the surgery. It was only then he developed wet eczema
(hotspots in the US) that I became concerned it might have been
something else. As I am in the UK, I have contacted Pfizer ( who
paid some of the blood and stool sample costs) and, more importantly,
I have lodged a complaint with the Vetinerary Medicines Directorate
(an Executive member of the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and
Food) as I was given no information with his prescription of Rimadyl
and I feel this is unacceptable.
If your pet is suffering from arthritis or hip dysplasia, we highly
recommend using a high quality liquid glucosamine formula. Our current
recommendation for glucosamine products for pets is Syn-flex. Visit
here for more information on Syn-flex.
the signs of an adverse reaction to Rimadyl
Read article on Rimadyl from The Wall Street Journal
provided by The Senior Dogs Project
Guide to Glucosamine Products for Pets
Arthritis Resource Center for more information on the latest
arthritis in dogs news, studies, research, and treatments.
to the Pet Arthritis Chronicle for informative articles on the
latest on arthritis regarding pets, research updates, and tips for
fighting arthritis in your dog or cat.