One of the worst feelings for pet owners is knowing that their beloved dog is in pain. A trip to the veterinarian will often leave you with a conventional pain medication that you may not know much about or even be able to pronounce. As dog owners who love and care deeply about our furry companions, we trust our veterinarians’ recommendations because, more than anything, we want Fido to feel better.
However, many conventional medications come with a long list of potential adverse reactions. We encourage you to keep reading before agreeing to give your dog the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), Deramaxx.
What is Deramaxx for Dogs
Deramaxx (scientific name, deracoxib) is a non-narcotic NSAID. NSAIDs are prescribed to alleviate fever, pain, and inflammation in dogs and people. You’re likely familiar with NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Like ibuprofen, Deramaxx has a long list of potential adverse side effects. We’ll get to that a bit later.
Deramaxx relieves pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in dogs and orthopedic and post-operative pain from dental surgery.
Deramaxx must be prescribed by a veterinarian. A quick Google search will show you that Deramaxx can be purchased online, probably for cheaper than what you’d pay at your veterinarian’s office. However, treatment with NSAIDs like Deramaxx must be monitored by a veterinarian because of the possibility of an allergic reaction.
Dosage is determined by ailment and body weight. The recommended dosages, according to indication, are listed below:
- Osteoarthritis pain and inflammation: 0.45–0.91mg/lb/day, once daily, as needed
- Postoperative dental pain and inflammation: 0.45–0.91mg/lb/day, once daily for 3 days
- Postoperative orthopedic pain and inflammation:1.4–1.8 mg/lb/day, once daily, up to 7 days
Use the lowest effective dose whenever possible. Deramaxx is available in 12 mg, 25 mg, 75 mg, and 100 mg tablets. The chewable tablets are beef-flavored to make oral administration more bearable. Give Deramaxx with food.
Precautions in Using Deramaxx for Dogs
We’d like to mention several precautions about using Deramaxx before getting into the drug’s side effects.
First, before your dog takes Deramaxx, your veterinarian should check the health of your dog’s liver and kidney and gastrointestinal (GI) system; this is typically done with blood work.
Second, if your dog is currently taking another NSAID, they should not take Deramaxx.
Third, treatment with Deramaxx requires regular monitoring. Your veterinarian will perform periodic blood work, urinalyses, and physical exams to ensure that your dog’s liver, kidneys, and GI system are still functioning properly. If your veterinarian detects health problems while your dog is Deramaxx, they may discontinue treatment.
Dogs with the following conditions should not take Deramaxx:
- Loss of Appetite
- Liver disease
- Gastric ulcers
- Renal disease
- Cardiac disease
- Pregnant or nursing
- Receiving diuretic therapy
How Does Deramaxx for Dogs Work
How Deramaxx works is not yet thoroughly understood. It is believed that Deramaxx inhibits the process that causes inflammation.
Side Effects of Deramaxx
Get ready for a long list of Deramaxx side effects, divided into subcategories. Remember, though, that these are potential side effects; many dogs on Deramaxx experience only mild effects or none at all.
VERY IMPORTANT: If you notice any of these side effects in your dog, stop Deramaxx immediately and contact your veterinarian.
The general side effects of Deramaxx include:
- Weight loss
- General malaise
- Loss of appetite or refusal to eat
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
GI side effects include:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting ± blood
- Elevated lipase and amylase
- Melena (black and tarry stools)
- Peritonitis (abdominal cavity inflammation)
- GI ulceration (thinning of the mucosal lining)
- GI perforation (hole through the mucosal lining)
- Hematochezia (fresh, bright red blood in stool)
- Decreased or increased total protein and globulin
Deramaxx can affect the blood. Regular blood work helps veterinarians detect hematologic problems associated with Deramaxx.
Hematologic effects include:
- Thrombocytopenia (decreased platelet levels)
- Leukocytosis (elevated white blood cell levels)
- Leukocytopenia (decreased white blood cell levels)
- Anemia (decreased red blood cell count or dysfunctional red blood cells)
Hepatic side effects include:
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Ascites (abdominal fluid accumulation)
- Decreased Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
- Jaundice (yellowing of mucous membranes, like the gums)
Neurologic effects include:
- Head tilts
- Walking in circles
- Hindlimb weakness
- Involuntary eye movement
- Inability to use paws properly
- Loss of balance and coordination
Behavioral changes because of medication can be very unsettling for pet owners. Behavioral changes associated with Deramaxx include:
Deramaxx negatively affects kidney function and causes these urologic side effects:
- Elevated BUN
- Excessive thirst
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent urination
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary tract infection
- Elevated blood phosphate levels
- Impaired kidney function, including kidney failure
Dermatologic side effects affect the skin, hair, and nails.
- Skin reddening
- Necrosis (tissue death)
- Skin rash (allergic reaction)
- Raw, irritated, and painful skin lesions
- Constant itching, scratching, and chew on the skin
Respiratory side effects include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Coughing, sometimes uncontrollable
Cardiovascular side effects negatively affect heart function and include:
- Heart murmur
- Slow heart rate
- Rapid heart rate
- Abrupt loss of heart function
Sensory and Ophthalmic
Dermaxx can impair a dog’s sense of balance and eye function. These side effects include:
- Dry eye
- Glazed eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye)
Clinical Signs of Deramaxx Overdose
Dogs suffering from a Deramaxx overdose will have the following symptoms:
- Pale gums
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty breathing
Act immediately if you think that your dog is suffering from a Deramaxx overdose. Treatments include inducing vomiting, pumping the stomach, administering activated charcoal, providing supportive care, and performing additional blood tests.
If you’re anything like us, the extent of Deramaxx’s potential adverse reactions is a lot to take in. You may be thinking twice about giving your dog the drug.
Of course, if you’re reading this article, your dog is probably in a fair amount of pain. Luckily, we have good news! Deramaxx is not the only pain relief option for dogs. Natural alternatives are available that can reduce or even eliminate the need for Deramaxx.
Here a few of our favorite natural alternatives to relieve pain in dogs.
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its bright yellow color. Interestingly, it also effectively relieves pain. Tumeric has an anti-inflammatory property that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for many pain-related conditions, including canine osteoarthritis. Lucky for us, turmeric is increasingly popular in the Western world for its natural healing powers for people and dogs and can be purchased at health food stores.
Comfrey is an herb that has been easing pain and inflammation for hundreds of years. The word is derived from the Latin word for "grow together," so it makes sense that Comfrey is known for speeding up cell reproduction. Comfrey's pain-relieving properties also make it highly effective in relieving joint pain.
A member of the pea family, the herb licorice has fascinating anti-inflammatory properties, making it highly effective for treating arthritis and many other pain-related conditions.
As always, we encourage our readers to consult with a holistic veterinarian to decide which natural remedies are most appropriate for their dog.
Deramaxx vs. Natural Pain Remedies
At the end of the day, we know that you want what’s best for your dog. Seeing them in pain is a terrible feeling for any pet owner. Not knowing what to do or what medication to give can be stressful. You want them to feel better, but at what cost? Are you comfortable with the possibility of serious negative side effects? Of course not. But what other options do you have?
Thankfully, we have information right at our fingertips. We encourage pet owners to research the products that their veterinarians prescribe. Although conventional prescription medications have vastly improved the scope and quality of veterinary care, they are not always the only available treatment option. Being able to recognize alternatives to conventional medication can really help your dog.
Something to Consider
Think about it, when was the last time you had a headache? What did you do? You probably took an Advil (or another headache reliever) and carried on with your day. Did you consider the headache’s cause? Is it dehydration? Allergies? Sinus pressure?
So often we choose the easy fix without thinking about what caused the problem in the first place. NSAIDs are a Band-Aid, not a cure. Even if your dog is no longer in pain, the pain can come back if the underlying cause is never figured out; the inflammation is simply masked temporarily. If a pet owner works with their veterinarian to get to the root of the problem, treating the pain will provide lasting relief. Furthermore, after determining the underlying issue, natural treatment is not only possible but effective and safe.
Deramaxx: The Bottom Line
Your dog means the world to you. We get it. At Honest Paws, we are all pet lovers and pet owners. That’s why, when troubles arise, we understand how worrisome and heart-wrenching it can be. We cannot stress enough to do your homework. Understand the prescription you are giving your dog and what the long-term effects may be.
Whenever possible, consider an all-natural approach to treating your dog's ailments, especially if you need long-term treatment. If there’s a way to reap the same benefits and effects of conventional medication with natural treatments, why wouldn’t you jump at the chance? Trust us, your dog will thank you for it!
JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM
JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian.
JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership.
Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!