What is Meloxicam for Dogs

Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for dogs (also commonly referred to as an NSAID). Meloxicam is primarily used as an anti-inflammatory to ease inflammation, stiffness, and associated pain stemming from disorders of the musculoskeletal system. One of the more common musculoskeletal system disorders is osteoarthritis in dogs, for which Meloxicam is often prescribed. However, Meloxicam for dogs is prescribed for a laundry list of conditions that cause inflammation and pain.

Meloxicam is sold in pill form and is only available with a prescription from your veterinarian. This means it is not available over-the-counter. One of the main reasons that Meloxicam is only available with a prescription is the slew of potential adverse reactions associated with the medication. For instance, while Meloxicam can treat fevers, veterinarians warn that owners must monitor their dog exceptionally closely as high doses of Meloxicam can have dangerous effects on Fido.

prescribed meloxicam

Understanding Meloxicam and its Varieties

Like all drugs, there are generic names and brand names. Additionally, the names of two or more nearly identical drug may vary based on the species it is treating.

Meloxicam is the common name for the drug that has been approved for both veterinary uses as well as human use.

What is Metacam for Dogs

The drug Metacam refers specifically to the veterinary formula of meloxicam. In other words, Metacam is the brand name. Meloxicam is the generic or common name. There is also Metacam available for cats although it is predominantly used in dogs. Metacam has been formulated specially to treat dogs. No other variety of the medication should be given to Fido!

What is Mobic Medication

Mobic (a form of Meloxicam) is used to treat pain and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in humans. This formula is specifically designed for human consumption and should never be given to your dog.

The three forms of Meloxicam all alleviate the same symptoms but vary in whom exactly they treat.

Meloxicam Uses

Typically, Meloxicam treats the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and postoperative pain in dogs and cats. Your vet may also prescribe Meloxicam for dogs as a way to reduce fever.

Mobic Uses


A common question that follows is "what is Metacam used for" or "what Mobic used for". We just want to reiterate that Mobic, while alleviating the same symptoms, should also be used for humans. Metacam is the only form of Meloxicam that should be administered to Fido. 

Is Meloxicam a Narcotic

This tends to be a commonly asked question regarding the medication, so we just want to clear it up for our readers. No, Meloxicam is not a narcotic. It belongs to the group referred to as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Meloxicam Dosage

Your veterinarian will prescribe a specific dose of Meloxicam based on your dog's weight. Typically, the dose is .09 to 0.1 mg per pound on the first day. All treatments after day one should be administered at a dose of .045 to 0.05 mg per pound once daily.

While Meloxicam can be given on an empty stomach, studies show that your pup will have fewer issues digesting the medication if it is given with food and water.

Meloxicam 7.5 mg

The medication, Meloxicam, is typically prescribed as 7.5 mg tablets.

Meloxicam 15 mg

While less commonly prescribed, if you have a large dog there are 15mg tablets available so that you don't have to give Fido multiple pills for each dose.

Liquid Meloxicam

If you are having trouble administering the medication in tablet form, Meloxicam can also be prescribed in liquid form. Metacam oral suspension provides a dosing syringe that is calibrated to deliver the daily maintenance dose in pounds.

Experts warn pet owners to administer Metacam oral suspension on food only. Many vets will say that this is only necessary if you have a small dog, however, to prevent accidental overdosing we encourage it for all dogs.

A Good Rule of Thumb!

As with all heavy medications that pose health risks, the goal is to give the lowest dose possible while still effectively treating the condition. The higher the dose and the longer that the medication is used only increases the possibility for adverse reactions to occur. As pet lovers, we want to decrease these possibilities whenever possible. 

Meloxicam Side Effects

As with all medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), there are potential adverse reactions. Unfortunately, with Meloxicam for dogs (Metacam), the list of possible side effects is extremely lengthy and side effects are widespread. You'll quickly see why we advise against the medication whenever possible.

Metacam Side Effects

The following side effects are often found in dogs taking Metacam:

  • Tarry black stools or bloody stools

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting (often with blood present)

  • Stomach ulcers

  • Abdominal pain

  • Abdominal tenderness

  • Increased thirst

  • Increased need to urinate

  • Swelling (due to fluid retention)

  • Weight gain (due to fluid retention)

  • Appetite loss

  • Weight loss

  • Exhaustion

  • Muscle weakness

  • Jaundice (your dog’s eyes, gums, and skin appear yellow)

  • Nausea

  • Headaches

  • Loss of coordination/ Dizziness

  • Dry mouth

  • Skin irritation (including redness and scabs)

  • Loss of kidney function

Behavioral Changes Associated with Metacam for Dogs

If you thought it couldn't get much worse, think again. Metacam is also responsible for behavioral changes such as:

  • Aggression

  • Depression

  • Uncoordinated steps and movement

  • Decreased energy / Increased lethargy

The fact that a conventional medication that is supposed to treat pain can lead to your dog becoming aggressive is a pretty terrifying thought. 

Furthermore, it is also in the realm of possibilities that your pup may be allergic to Metacam. In these cases, the allergic reaction will likely to go into anaphylactic shock.

sad dog in bed

Meloxicam Poisoning

The following are symptoms of Meloxicam poisoning. As you will see, the symptoms are comparable to the side effects that are often associated with the drug. When poisoning occurs, the symptoms will be severe and develop quickly. We cannot stress enough that if you feel your dog may be experiencing Meloxicam poisoning, take them to the vet straight away or call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 213-6680 immediately. Like all NSAIDs, if an overdose does not receive medical intervention in a timely manner, the result can be fatal. 

  • Vomiting (with or without blood)

  • Diarrhea (with or without blood)

  • Lack of appetite

  • Black tarry stools (also referred to as melena)

  • Excessive thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Lethargy

  • General discomfort

  • Abdominal pain/tenderness

  • Seizures

thirsty dog

Causes of Meloxicam Poisoning

In the vast majority of cases, Meloxicam poisoning is the result of:

  • The dog owner giving their dog a higher dose of the medication than what was prescribed.

  • An accidental overdose caused by the dog getting into an open bottle or chewing through the bottle.

  • A dog owner giving their dog medication that was formulated for humans.

The good news is, these common reasons for an overdose are all avoidable. Dog owners must ensure that they are always giving their dogs (and cats) the correct formula, the prescribed amount, and make sure that it is kept out of reach so that there is no possibility of an accidental overdose.

Additional Precautions

As if the potential side effects weren't dangerous enough, there are also many dogs that shouldn't take Meloxicam as it can worsen their already fragile states or cause conditions to quickly develop. These dogs include:

  • Dogs less than 6 weeks of age

  • Those who are pregnant, lactating, or breeding

  • Dogs with bleeding disorders

  • Canines suffering from dehydration

  • Dogs on concomitant diuretic therapy

  • Animals with existing renal, cardiovascular, and/or hepatic dysfunction

Additionally, a dog with sensitivities to NSAIDs should not take Meloxicam. Also, the drug should not be given with other NSAIDs including:

  • Carprofen (Rimadyl)

  • Firocoxib (Previcox)

  • Etodolac (Etogesic)

  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx)

  • Aspirin

Finally, it is critical that dogs with kidney problems, liver problems, or heart problems do not take Meloxicam. The medication can cause dogs with kidney issues to go into renal failure.

Meloxicam Alternatives

Now, we understand that that was a lot of information to take in. But there is good news in all of this. There are a number of Meloxicam alternatives that are safe, effective, and more accessible than you may realize. 

Some dogs aren't able to take NSAIDs because their bodies don't react well with the medications. In case you need a re-fresher, here are just some of the common side effects of NSAIDS:

  • Digestive upset

  • Gastritis

  • Peptic ulcers

  • Liver damage

  • Liver disease

  • Kidney toxicity

  • Kidney disease

  • Chronic dry eye

  • In some cases blindness can develop

  • Joint damage

A note on the last side effect- joint damage. You read that correctly. The medication can actually cause further breakdown of articular cartilage. In other words, it is possible for the conventional medication (NSAIDs) that are treating your dog's joint conditions to in fact make your dog’s arthritis worse. 

Additionally, some pet parents do not wish to give their furry companions NSAIDs for their own, personal reasons. Whichever the case may be, we want you to know that there is hope.

Natural alternatives to conventional medications are growing in popularity seemingly every day, and we understand why. Once dog owners recognize the potential (and in some cases likely) chances of their pup having an adverse reaction to conventional medication, of course, they would want to find another way.


Have you heard of acupuncture for dogs? The Chinese therapy method continues to prove its effectiveness for both humans and dogs in treating pain. Acupuncture treats both acute pain as well as chronic pain such as osteoarthritis and degenerative bone and joint conditions. 

dog with acupuncture needles


Turmeric is another great supplement that is an all natural anti-inflammatory. It is also highly effective at easing pain and has antioxidant properties. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to effectively treat arthritis and other joint conditions. The herb continues to prove its wide range of health benefits for humans and animals alike.

turmeric powder


Yucca is a root that has many nutritional and medicinal properties. Steroidal saponins make up the composition of the root, which effectively and safely treats arthritis pain and joint inflammation. (Don't be concerned at the word "steroidal" -- it is all natural and perfectly safe when Yucca in appropriate dosages)

Many holistic vets report that yucca has a 50% to 80% success rate in treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in their animal patients.


Licorice root has medicinal properties, one of which treats pain and symptoms of arthritis. Holistic vets report that licorice root has an anti-inflammatory agent which speeds up recovery time and makes it incredibly effective.

*  Specialists state that one should only use licorice 1-2 weeks at a time to ensure its safety and effectiveness.


The herb, comfrey, is well-known in the world of holistic healing. It shows to treat a wide array of ailments including cancer, pain, and digestive issues. It also has healing effects that speed up cell reproduction. Comfrey's anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties also make it effective for treating joint conditions.

Devil's Claw

Devil's Claw is an effective anti-inflammatory and body tonic, making the herb a great way to ease arthritis and muscle pain.

*  We want to note that Devil's Claw may interact with certain medications so dog owners should consult with their veterinarian if Fido is currently taking other drugs.

Finding the Best Alternatives

We highly recommend finding a holistic veterinarian or herbalist in your area. Even if you only go for a second opinion, it is incredibly eye-opening to realize the number of holistic alternatives available.

Again, we aren't encouraging for dog owners to throw all of their prescribed medications in the trash. However, we are encouraging our readers to look at the possible alternatives. There are so many ways that we can treat our four-legged friends without the harsh side effects associated with conventional medications. If you could ease your dog's pain without the possibility of adverse reactions from harsh medications, wouldn't you at least consider doing it?

Meloxicam for Dogs: The Bottom Line

Your dogs (and cats, of course) are apart of your family. They hold a special place in our hearts, and we would do the world for them. With that said, being a pet owner can be stressful at times. No owner ever wants to see their four-legged friend in pain. But when suddenly you are faced with a dog in distress and a slew of potential medications, what do you do? Which medications may end up causing more harm than good? Are they all necessary? What are your other options?

We feel that one of the important things that a dog owner can do is stay educated on exactly what is being prescribed and the potential adverse reactions. The easy route is often simply agreeing to the medication and hoping for the best. We aren't suggesting for you to boycott Western medicine. However, the only way for dog owners to be prepared is to know all the possibilities.

Food for Thought

Furthermore, whenever possible (the vast majority of the time) we encourage our readers to consider non-toxic, natural alternatives, for both themselves and for their furry companions.

Think about it.

How often do you find yourself with a headache coming on and without thinking you pop a Tylenol? Or perhaps you've been having back issues so you take medication to swiftly ease the pain. Believe us when we say we get it. But sometimes (again, the vast majority of the time) it's worth investigating what the root of the problem is instead of going the quick-fix, band-aid route. Do you have a headache due to dehydration? Is your back pain due to bad posture that needs correction?

If your dog's pain is due to an inflammatory issue then seeking out ways to treat the inflammation rather than place a band-aid on the pain will ultimately prove to be much better in the long run. It's a good rule of thumb for just about any ailment you can think of.

Furthermore, think about when you are in any sort of discomfort and then it is suddenly relieved. Chances are, you go full force into whatever you've not been able to do in the recent past. It's the same case for your pup but it can ultimately cause more damage. For example, if Fido is experiencing pain in their hind legs and then suddenly the pain is gone, they may sprint around the backyard, jump on and off the bed, etc.

However, just because the pain is temporarily gone doesn't mean the condition is. Your dog will likely wake up the next day in even more discomfort because the medication has worn off thus requiring more medication to be administered. It's a vicious cycle that is entirely avoidable by treating the root of the problem, not just masking it with a pill. 

We hope that we were able to shed some light on the medication, Meloxicam, and we sincerely hope that Fido feels better soon!