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I suspect Metacam side effects--other option(s)?

March 1, 2010

I posted a few days ago about starting my 14-year-old Husky-Shepherd, Wolfy, on meloxicam (Metacam) for his hip arthritis. He had been on Previcox for quite some time. I started the meloxicam on Thursday, and I could see strong improvement Saturday and Sunday. Then this morning he was off balance, seemed to be dizzy, had no appetite, and had loose stools.

I called the vet and spoke to a tech who said those symptoms were unrelated to the drug. She suggested that Wolfy was nearing the end. This was not an unreasonable assumption, given his age. But the onset of the symptoms was sudden, and in fact he seemed to be doing better in the hips.

So I looked up meloxicam's side effects, and sure enough, they include dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. As far as I know he hasn't vomited (another side effect).

Are the side effects likely to go away as the body adjusts to the med? Or is meloxicam not for Wolfy? If I should take him off the med, I'll of course ask the vet what she suggests. But the last time we talked about his condition we agreed that if this protocol didn't work we'd know we had done all we could.

He's also on Tramadol, and had a shot of cortisone a couple of weeks ago.

Does this really sound as though there's no more we can do?



Comments (33)

  • annzgw

    I had an elderly dog that reacted to Metacam. Dr. said it was pretty uncommon but my dog was very sensitive to many drugs. I'd be surprised if your vet didn't advise you to stop giving it.
    Why was Wolfy taken off the other pain med?

  • alisande

    Why was Wolfy taken off the other pain med?

    I brought him to the vet a couple of weeks ago to ask two things: Is there anything more we can do to relieve his hip pain? And am I keeping him going too long?

    She noted that except for his severe arthritis, Wolfy is healthy. He has a gorgeous coat, and normally eats well. He does have some of what appears to be anxiety at night, for which we tried amitriptyline with no success.

    She suggested a cortisone shot and switching to meloxicam, mostly to save me some money, I think (I'd been spending $3 per pill on Previcox for a long time, and my finances are far from unlimited these days), but also because she was having good results with it with one of her own dogs. I did notice an improvement (over the Previcox) at first.

    Ann, was your dog put on another med after the Metacam?

  • debbiep_gw

    My seven year old basset Lucy took metacam before christmas.I gave the dosage the vet told me to give her and by the end of the week she could not hardly walk.She was taking it for spine calcification.I believe she was overmedicated as she does not tolerate medicines well.I now give her about a fourth of what i was told to give her when I feel she needs it.Her appetite was fine while on it as well as her stools but she was off balance and basically could not walk right.Debbie

  • annzgw


    Since my dog had difficulty tolerating most meds the only one we found that helped my dog was prednisone. We even tried tramadol, and it worked for a few days, but then she started having all the side effects.

    She had been on the pred for a long time and the vet wanted to try some of the newer, 'safer' meds. After trying several meds (with poor results) the vet specialist and I weighed all the pros and cons and decided to put her back on Prednisone. I knew long term use of the Pred could cause other problems but I chose to go with a drug my dog could tolerate and one that would relieve her pain. We treated the stomach problems with Carafate, which worked wonders!

    By trial and error we found a dose that worked very well (1/4 pill every other day) and she lived another 4 years. She died of kidney failure and congestive heart failure.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Some more meds

  • alisande

    Thanks, Debbie and Ann. I talked to the vet today, and since Wolfy's arthritis seemed to be better on the meloxicam than on the Previcox, she suggested that I keep him off it for three days and then give him half the dosage we started with. Since I know what to look for if he has a bad reaction, I ought to be able to spot it quickly and stop again if necessary.

    This morning Wolfy had his appetite back, and I was surprised (and delighted) to see him putting his front paws forward and his butt in the air, wagging his tail. I haven't seen him act that playful in a very long time. If we could continue to get that effect from the meloxicam without the bad reaction, it would be wonderful. Not terribly likely, I know, but wonderful if it happens.

  • cal_dreamer

    Hopefully the reduced dose will keep most of the benefits without as many side effects.

    Here's wishing you both the best!

  • mazer415

    When is the last time his ears were cleaned??

  • alisande

    Thanks, Cal!

    Mazer, are you thinking the dizziness could be an inner ear problem? If that's the case, would a cleaning involve the inner ear?

    He was examined two weeks ago. I don't remember anything specific to the ears.......I'm guessing they were checked but not cleaned.

  • murraysmom Zone 6a OH

    alisande, glad to here Wolfy is doing better. Nothing lifts your spirits like "a butt in the air and wagging tail"!! I hope he continues to improve.

  • ania_ca

    I cannot belive the vet tech told you that was unrelated to the metecam and that he was nearing the end. How irresponsible adn mean is that?

    Have you tried cosaquin DS, adequin or Dasequin? How about DogGonePain? Those are all natural supplements that may help reduce his need for the NSAIDS and maybe even let you use just the Tramadol. Adequin is an injection from the vet.

    For the NSAIDS, your other choice is to go back to Previcox or Rimadyl. But you have to make sure the Metacam is out of his body first.


  • alisande

    Thanks, Ania. Yeah, I was surprised at the vet tech's response. She's worked in the field a long time and is usually quite knowledgeable.

    I haven't tried any of the alternatives you mentioned. I did buy some Zyflamend, but the vet said Wolfy's hips are way beyond the point where any herbal supplement would help. I might have tried it anyway, but it's difficult enough to get the other seven pills a day into him. Thank heavens for peanut butter!

    So far so good with the half-dose of Metacam, but tomorrow is the fourth day, and it was on the fourth day that he exhibited the bad reaction to the larger dose. So we'll see. I really hope this works. We went for a short walk today, and I could tell he enjoyed it.

    Here's Wolfy:

  • ania_ca

    He's beautiful! Glad he is feeling better.

    Do try Cosequin DS or Desequin if you can though. It is actually clinically proven to work and really makes a difference. It takes 6 weeks to kick in though.

    Adequin is the stronger, injectable version, but is very pricey.


  • sylviatexas1

    If his ears are blocked with a build-up of ear was & matted hair, it's possible for infection to set in;
    the easiest thing to do is look & sniff.

    If you see a big glob or something disgusting or something that looks like oily dirt, & if you smell something nasty, maybe yeasty, clean his ears with a generous dollop of olive oil or baby oil (squish it down into the 'root' part of the ear), & wip out the excess with a tissue wrapped around a q-tip.

    but if the main prob were an ear infection, taking him off the meds wouldn't have made a difference.

    I'd darn sure tell the vet that the tech made a bad 'diagnosis' & that she overstepped her position when she said he was nearing the end.

    She was not only giving unqualified medical opinions but expressing a fatalistic attitude;

    if you thought Wolfy was 'near the end', I don't guess you'd need a vet until right at the last, would you?

  • sylviatexas1

    You'd think that mandatory preview would prevent that sort of thing, wouldn't you?...

  • dominiqueklein_hotmail_com

    My Lhasa is 14. About a week ago he had back pain, so off to the vet we went. After a shot of Metacam he was fine, but that evening, he went out for a pee and came in blowing clear fluid out of his nose. Since then he has had trouble breathing through his nose. The vet is not sure, if it's a foreign body, or a growth or an allergy. I asked the Vet could it have something to do with the Metacam, he felt it wasn't. Now it been a stressful week, not knowing, what to do next, so far he is on Quatazone, antibiotics, but he condition has remained. The next step is rather expensive a specialist to look up his nose. So I'm wondering if anyone out there has heard of a dog having a reaction to metacam simalar to my dog Toe.

  • Casanovamom

    My Casanova was a 3 yr old 200lbs Healthy vibrant St.Brenard. Was prescribed metacam a week ago 3/21/2012 by the vet for a sprained front leg. After 2 days he looks as if he was going be ok then suddenly the next morning he started breathing very heavily, very thristy, lost of appetite and he couldn't even hold himself up on his hind legs they started shaking and he collapsed. And today he DIED 3/27/2012 after the autopsy. The Vet tells me his findings is consist with a heatstroke,how I asked bc he lives inside the house with my other 2 dogs and he doesn't spend large amount of time out doors........I feel as if the medication may have had something to do with his death. Can someone give information to clarify this medicine.......... Casanova's mom

  • alisande

    How awful for Casanova and you. I'm sorry I'm no help--I don't know any more about Metacam than is contained in this post--but perhaps others will have information for you. If not, the Internet is of course a rich resource. You might start with literature from the drug manufacturer on possible side effects and recommended dosages. So sad.....

  • laurief_gw

    I am so, so sorry about your loss of Casanova. Such a tragic loss. I hate to have to ask this, but did you have the necropsy performed by the same vet who prescribed the Metacam? If so, and if you want to lay your mind at rest about his cause of death, you may want to consider taking his body to another clinic for a second necropsy to verify the first vet's findings.

    Again, you have my deepest sympathies for your loss.

  • Casanovamom

    I know that's what I'm going about doing right because it just dnt sit well with me and thank you both for your input....

  • mboston_gw

    We had a Brittany with Hip dysplaysia. She got to the point where she didn't want to play or swim, which was one of her favorite things to do. We started her on Metacam and within a week, she was running and playing like a puppy. We didn't have any side affects from it with her and it gave her a couple more years of quality life. She lived to be 14.

    Good luck - hope it has helped your guy and that he is not having problems with it now.

  • bella1313

    I am sitting here waiting to talk to the emergency vet docs while my 9 yr old Rottie Bella comes out of surgery for a perferated ulcer. She was placed on usual dose of metacam around 15 days ago. At about 10 days into the meds, she suddenly went weak, was throwing up all her meals. I took her to the vet who took more bloodwork (liver enzymes were elevated at outset of giving her these meds but he says go ahead and we will check in two weeks). Well, my poor Bella was admitted to emergency with life threatening peritonitis. She went into shock. They stabilized her, called it "Hermorraghic Gastroenteritis" and sent her home then called me back to say the fluid they took out of her abdomen indicated peritonitis and she needed emergency surgery. Aside from the emotional rollercoaster of the last two days (twice thought we had to "put her down"), the bill is $10k + at this point. The only factor introduced into her life was METACAM (an NSAID related ulcer caused this). I went against my usual holistic bent in search of something to get her feeling better in the hips. NOT a good choice! I think with all the postings, the drug company and the vets need a good wake up to the serious side effects (and possibly not as RARE as the drug company claims!)

  • pkimball1

    I learned this only from the drive-by-Euthanasia vet last night after unknowingly hurting my most beloved for 2-1/2 years with this stuff; no one told me & I thought it was my fault--maybe I wasn't feeding her well enough or right--and someone--like a vet, for example--should have.

    If you're shocked about what a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (Metacam) does, wait to you see what a STEROIDAL anti-inflammatory (Prednisone) does: caused internal bleeding & ulceration of the GI tract & the dead-givaway "tarry stools" (the internal bleeding which is dark like black crude).
    Problem is, there's nothing like Metacam against arthritis...Just, we now learn (but the vets have to know this, right?) the 'cost' is possible pain & damage to the GI tract.
    And what else are you going to do for arthritis?
    And there's nothing like Prednisone against tumors.
    (I had to let my darling go not just because of arthritis & GI stuff but cancer...)

    My heart breaks for my dog & yours their suffering.
    I did not put my darling through even a biopsy and I would urge people to SPARE YOUR DARLING the invasive & painful & scarey & horrible tests, procedures, treatments...
    They have to go, so why torture them on the way out?

    I don't know what the answer is: stay aware & tuned (not like me) to what they're ingesting & what reactions you're seeing, don't be sold a bill of goods by the Medical-Industrial Complex (they will see YOU the same bill of goods, by the way).
    And minimize the suffering & make them suffer more because you want to hold on...

  • pkimball1

    Dizziness? Definitely one of the possible side effects of Metacam.
    A few people have said they had luck with lowering the dose by up to half.

  • gschloff55

    I have an 11 1/2 year old Smoothcoat Chow Chow that has to take prednisone for an autoimmune disease. I give him 1/2 tablet every 3rd day.

    But his hips are getting so bad it's painful watching my poor baby lay down and he is limping.

    After reading the side effects of Meloxicam I'm afraid to give it to him.

    I've been using OTC Glucosemine/Chondroiton . He's on his 6th bottle of that, so 6 months, but it has not helped him at all. Can I safely wean him off ? Isn't there anything *natural* that I could give him without having to have a prescription? My vet is about 35 miles away and I don't know if I could even get him into the car at this point.

  • lzrddr

    WEll, first of all, if you want to stop Glucosamine (why stop?) you can do it cold turkey without any consequences... it may not be helping much, but it is harmless, and can make the joints feel better.

    Old Chows and other larger breeds can have severe arthritis OR(and) myelopathy, which is a condition that does not tend to respond to anti-inflammatories (like Metacam)... this condition tends to make dog's rear legs weak and WOBBLY (as opposed to arthritis which usually makes them seem weak but are also quite painful). But if your pet is having balance problems or is dragging his rear legs a bit, chances are it is more myelopathy that is the problem and not necessarily arthritis. Myelopathy is not that treatable a condition, but the prednisolone you are on already is far likelier to help than any non-steroidal is (though you may have to up the dose some). But even the positive effects of prednisolone are short lived for older big dogs with myleopathy.

    Meloxicam CAN have side effects, though in almost all the above circumstances, I can tell with near certainty most symptoms were NOT due to the Meloxicam. Problem is non-steroidals are usually used on very old dogs ... and LOTs of other completely unrelated problems occur in very old dogs, though we are so fast to blame some drug they are on rather than the much more likely possibility things have degenerated or suddenly occured for unrelated reasons. But there is no arguing this point to most owners, and I always recommend stop any 'suspicious' drugs... just in case.

    But on the other hand Meloxicam, as great a drug as it is for many dogs, it has a pretty narrow margin of safety (in other words, getting the dose wrong can cause serious problems), so picking another drug that has a much better safety record and dose margin safety (like the much maligned carprofen) might be a better choice anyway.

    Another comment, though... prednisolone has hundreds of side effects, many quite debilitating and damaging, compared to the very few a non-steroidal can cause. So if you are not scared of giving your pet prednisolone I am not sure why you are more afraid of giving another far safer drug...?

    But one thing is for sure, giving BOTH prednisolone AND a non-steroidal is far more likely to result in a lot of nasty side effects than giving either alone. Best stop one before starting the other, if you decide to try a non-steroidal.

  • RickAbrams

    Our 14 year old Belgium Shepard mix was placed on Metacam about one year ago. We gradually and unwittingly increased his dose and he was fine. Our other dog a young German Shepard got diarrhea and we followed the rice chicken diet with antibiotics, and shortly after that the Belgium Shepard got diarrhea and we followed the same regime.

    A few days after that, his stools turned black and tarry, about 8 days later, he lost his appetite, and walking was extremely arduous. We thought that was because his chiro had retired and missed a week before starting with a new one.

    Then, my mind recalled something about black stool with Metacam overdose and I found his site. I stopped the Metacam this morning. His appetite is back (but then I made sirloin hamburger). His walking is very labored and his stool is still black.

    It aggravates me that I had forgotten abut the black stool, but then he started on Metacam over a year ago and it had done so great that I was slow to suspect it. I guess the stomach virus with the antibiotics overwhelmed him.

    If there is a lesson, perhaps it should to be careful if a dog on Metacam needs to take antibiotics - but I am guessing that was a co-factor. I could have slashed his Metacam dosage for a while and kept him on rice longer.

    At almost 16, he is too old for any more operations.

  • elisenthompson

    My sweet angel, Hunter, is a 15 year old mixed Terrier weighing 50lbs. His arthritis has progressively gotten a lot worse over the last few months. The vet had him on Previcox every 2 days and tramadol along with the Cosaquin DS that I was giving him. He has been in so much pain. At night he cannot get comfortable and pants all night long. It breaks my heart! When I took him back to the vet 2 weeks ago she switched him to 1/3 pill of Meloxicam daily from the Previcox, upped him tramadol, and told me to switch his Cosaquin to Phycox one Max because it has a much higher dose of glucosamine. She also told me that if this doesn't work there is nothing more she could do for him. I asked her to please tell me if its time then because I don't want to prolong his pain. I was told that she can't tell me that and I have to decide on my own, but to try these new meds first. I'm not a vet and all I know is that he is in pain. This is my baby!

    He seemed to be feeling better the last two weeks and all of a sudden he has terrible diarrhea the last two days along with being very lethargic, wobbly on his feet, and back to the panting all night long. I know the panting is a sign of pain, but could there be more going on? I believe the diarrhea is due to Meloxicam so I will discontinue use. Reading these post is very upsetting because my vet told me that the Meloxicam is a lot safer than Previcox and she has found it helped many dogs more than the Previcox. I'm at a loss and just want to make him comfortable. Back to the vet we go on Monday unless he worsens and we will go to emergency vet.

  • dwarrenroach2013

    I had my little baby spayed and the vet put her on Metacam for pain. I ended up taking her back this morning because her left paw was drawn up to her ear and she was having problems standing, and on the way she threw up. She only weighs about 3lbs. And the dose is .02ml once a day. When I got her there she was doing better, but running a temp. He checked her out and said he could not find anything wrong but temp. And gave her some antibiotics and told me to keep giving her the pain med. I got her home gave her some pain med. And she ate a little bit. A few hours later she was throwing up, not walking and standing with her head between her legs. I looked up the med. and it said Do not give to dogs under 5 lbs directly in mouth because of the chance of over dose and side effects. She is still just laying looking like she is out of it. I feel so bad for her. How long does it take to get out of the system and is there anything I can domto help her along?

  • katelw

    First time poster, here! As a certified vet tech and owner of a dachshund who took metacam (before eventually passing away at age 16), I thought I might throw in my two cents. First of all, I'm not a huge fan of the dosage syringe. Our hospital has a more specific dosage calculation for dogs or cats. We simply provided 1, 3, 5mL, etc syringes and a pill bottle to transfer the Metacam into. Most pets did well with this. The only complaint I've gotten is that the medicine simply wasn't helping ease the pain.

    Always always always give Metacam with food! I feel as though this is not emphasized enough at some practices. Also, follow-up bloodwork is essential to check kidney and liver values, ensuring that the medication is not harming these organs over time.

    It is important to note that, just like us humans, not all animals react the same to medications/treatments. It's all about finding the right course of treatment for you pet as an individual. I commend you for working with different meds to find out the best way to help your dog.

    Metacam provided my dachshund, Lucy, several months of a much higher quality of life than she had been experiencing before starting the drug. It took some time and much frustration finding the right med for her, and I work for a great, knowledgeable veterinarian!

    Never, ever give up. If that means trying a bunch of meds before finding the right one(s), do it. And make sure you are comfortable with your veterinarian and that they are willing to work with you and your pet long term.

    Good luck, and please keep us posted!

  • emmylou91

    Hi, I just wanted to tell about my experience with Matacam. I have a 5 yr old Morkie, she had a problem with her right back leg a couple of years ago but it's been fine up until Jan of this year. I took her out for a walk and she ran and played in the snow, loves the snow, and anyway the next day she was limping. I didn't have the money to take her to see the vet up until 2 week ago, I got her there and she wasn't limping because I guess she was so excited he said. Sent me home with a bottle of glucosamine and that was it. I took her back this week after taking a video of her limping so he could see for himself. This time he gave her Matacam, 14 drops a day with food. It's been 5 days on it and she seems worse than she was before she went on it. It seems she has no strength in her back side, walks a few steps and sits down. I'm wondering if I should give her less a day. Has anyone had this problem?

  • annztoo


    I suggest you first call the vet and let him know she's worse. If mg/lb dosage is not written on the bottle, ask the vet the actual dosage of 14 drops. In this link you'll see there's usually a starting dose on the first day, then less daily after that. Personally, since she's worse since starting the med, I would stop giving it and let the vet know it's not working.

    Did your vet give a good exam and check her joints & back when he saw her? Did he mention a luxating patella (this usually does not require pain meds)? Were there any X-rays & blood tests? It's possible something else is going on, even neurologically, so if you don't have confidence in your vet, ask for a referral to a specialist.

  • Kenny Courville

    A vet gave my mom Meticam 7.5, 1/2 pill once a day for her 7 year old Chihuahua that was on steroids, within 4 days we rushed the poor boy back to the vet with all the bad side effects. The vet kept him & put him on an IV that day. It's so sad. When he was well he always cried & howled when we would leave him to go anywhere & never stayed gone for more than a few hours. Now he gets sick & we had to leave him in another town (about 85 miles away) with a vet in a cage. I wanted so bad to go see him.
    Well I tried to take mom to go see scooter yesterday & my car
    had a blowout in Cash (about 30 miles out) so we came back home. I took off work today cause
    nothing was going to stop me from seeing him today cause I didn't want
    scooter thinking we just abandoned him. He passed away last night. Good
    bye my little Scooby Doo. God I wish I hadn't had that blowout so we could have atleast seen him one last time just to let him know we didn't abandon him. We started the year off with three dogs. Now
    we only have baby. My little boy is feeling lonely. Losing him so fast because of this drug is just killing me.

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