Metacam (Meloxicam) for Dogs

Metacam (Meloxicam) for Dogs: Dosage, Side Effects, And More

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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Is it Safe to Give Metacam to Dogs?

Is it Safe to Give Metacam to Dogs

Yes, it is safe to give Metacam to dogs, but only if the veterinarian approves and following their guidelines. Some Meloxicam forms are formulated specifically for dogs, while others are FDA-approved for humans but used in veterinary medicine off-label. The drug was first developed by Boehringer Ingelheim, and today it is one of the most frequently prescribed medications

Metacam (active ingredient: Meloxicam) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that belongs to the oxicam family of chemicals. It works by blocking the COX enzyme, which prevents the formation of prostaglandins – hormone-like chemicals responsible for various bodily functions. 

More precisely, Meloxicam is COX selective and has a stronger affinity for COX-2 than COX-1. This is good news because Meloxicam blocks the formation of prostaglandins responsible for pain, inflammation, and fever. Meanwhile, they do not affect the prostaglandins responsible for beneficial processes like kidney perfusion, blood clotting cascade, and GI tract mucous lining secretion.   

What is the Drug Metacam Used for in Dogs?

In dogs, Metacam is used to alleviate pain, control inflammation, and reduce fever. Metacam is the treatment of choice for dogs with stiffness and lameness because of musculoskeletal pain (osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia) and dogs with surgery-associated pain.  

Metacam for Osteoarthritis in Dogs. Canine osteoarthritis is one of the most common conditions in dogs. Almost every dog will develop some form and level of arthritis at a certain point in its life. Metacam is commonly prescribed for dogs with arthritis because it manages both of its main aspects, pain and inflammation

Metacam for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs. Hip dysplasia is a common issue, especially among certain dog breeds. It occurs when the hip socket and head of the thighbone do not grow proportionally, leading to unnecessary friction and a high risk of joint dislocation. Once again, Metacam can help with both the pain and inflammation

Metacam for Post-Surgery Pain for Dogs. Pain management in post-surgery patients is of paramount importance. Inadequate pain relief can prolong the healing period and have adverse effects on the dog’s overall welfare. Because of its safety, efficacy, and convenience (once-daily dosing), Metacam is often given to dogs after surgeries. 

What are the Side Effects of Dogs Taking Metacam?

The most common side effects of Metacam include GI tract issues like vomiting, diarrhea, soft stool, and loss of appetite or, in simple words, telltale signs of stomach upset. 

Some less common but more serious side effects include: 

  • Headaches and dizziness 
  • Increased thirst and urination 
  • Bloody stools or tarry stools
  • Blood in the vomit 
  • Abdominal pain and cramping 
  • Open sores in the mouth 
  • Excessive itchiness
  • Tremors and seizures 
  • Weight gain and fluid retention
  • Unusual weakness and lethargy 
  • Yellowing of the eyes
  • Pale gums or yellow gums
  • Jaundice and elevated liver enzymes.  

If your dog is experiencing some of these side effects, discontinue the use of Meloxicam and call your veterinarian for further instructions. 

It is worth mentioning that Metacam may trigger an allergic reaction in some highly sensitive dogs. Such reactions manifest with facial swelling, rashes and hives, and difficulty breathing. 

Because of the increased risk of side effects, Metacam should be used cautiously in:

  • Old, weak, frail, and dehydrated dogs 
  • Dogs with active ulcers or a history of ulcers
  • Dogs with pre-existing heart conditions 
  • Dogs with bleeding disorders. 

Plus, there are Metacam contraindications, and the drug should not be used in:

  • Dogs with known hypersensitivity to NSAIDs 
  • Dogs on meds with established drug interactions
  • Puppies less than 24 weeks of age 
  • Breeding, pregnant, and lactating dogs 
  • Dogs with pre-existing liver or kidney disease
  • Dogs at increased risk of hepatic toxicity. 

Metacam Dosage for Dogs

Metacam (Meloxicam) for Dogs

The recommended Metacam dosage for dogs is 0.09 mg per lbs of body weight (0.2 mg per kg) on the first day of treatment. After that, use a daily maintenance dose of 0.045 mg/lbs (0.1 mg/kg). 

In case you forgot to dose your dog with Metacam, you have two options, give the dose as soon as you remember, or if it is close to the next dose, skip the missed dose and proceed with the regular dosing schedule. 

Be extra mindful regarding the accuracy of dosing. In case of accidental overdosing, call your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control Helpline as soon as possible. 

How Quickly does Metacam Work in Dogs?

Metacam is a fast-acting medication and usually takes between one and two hours to start working. After this timeframe, there should be a visible improvement in the dog’s condition. In case your dog is not responding to Metacam as expected, call your veterinarian

Metacam for Dogs Usage Guidelines

Meloxicam is available in different forms, oral suspensions, oral sprays, and chewable tablets. Human Meloxicam versions (brand name Mobic and Mobicox) in the form of pills can also be used in dogs. There are also injection forms, but oral Meloxicam is easier to use at home. 

The Metacam oral suspension is most frequently used because it is convenient, and dogs like its honey taste. The oral suspension is available in two strengths (0.5 mg/ml and 1.5 mg/ml). 

If you have the oral suspension, squeeze the dropper bottle with the provided dosing syringe to measure the dose (round down your dog’s body weight to the nearest 5-pound increment). The measuring syringe fits on the bottle and is simple to use. Make sure you shake the bottle well before measuring. 

To avoid accidental overdosing of small dogs, it is advisable to put the drops on the dog’s food instead of directly into the dog’s mouth (the provided syringe cannot be used for pets with less than 5 lbs of body weight).  

If using the oral spray, mist the content into the inside of the cheeks. The chewable tablets can be used as treats, and the pills are given directly into the dog’s mouth or hidden in food. In all cases, particular care is required to ensure accurate dosing. 

Additionally, a word or two about storage. Metacam needs to be kept at room temperature and away from heat, light, and moisture. Exposure to such elements affects its efficacy. Also, make sure the medication is out-of-reach of children and pets (call a physician or vet respectively in case of accidental ingestion).   

Finally, always tell your veterinarian if the pet is already receiving certain medications. Drug interactions are possible in dogs on:

  • Other NSAIDs (Etodolac, Aspirin)
  • Corticosteroids (Prednisone, Dexamethasone)
  • Certain antibiotics (Gentamicin, Amikacin)
  • Antifungals (Fluconazole)
  • Anticoagulants (Heparin, Warfarin)
  • Diuretics (Furosemide)
  • Immunosuppressants (Cyclosporine, Methotrexate)
  • Anesthetic agents. 

Metacam Alternatives for Dogs

Metacam Alternatives for Dogs

If Metacam is contradicted for your dog, do not worry – there are many other medications you can use to manage pain and inflammation. Here is a short review of some of the most popular Metacam alternatives for dogs. 

Other NSAIDs for Dogs. Instead of Meloxicam, you can use other members of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs family such as Carprofen (Rimadyl/Novox), Deracoxib (Deramaxx), and Firocoxib (Previcox). Keep in mind that human NSAIDs (Aleve, Aspirin, Ibuprofen) can be toxic to dogs.  

Opioids for Dogs. You can use classic opioids (Methadone) or opioid-like synthetic versions (Tramadol). Opioids are controlled substances, and you need to discuss their pros and cons with your trusted veterinarian

Gabapentin for Dogs. Gabapentin is another extra-label drug and, in veterinary medicine, is commonly used to relieve pain, especially of neurological origin. When used in conjunction with other anti-pain meds, Gabapentin boosts their effects. 

If you prefer natural and holistic remedies, there are several options you can try. When dealing with canine osteoarthritis, in particular, keeping a lean body and physical therapy (hydrotherapy, acupuncture, massage) is highly beneficial. 

CBD Oil for Dogs. Cannabidiol is an efficient way of managing pain and inflammation. CBD has natural anti-inflammatory features and changes the way the brain responds to pain. You should use the Honest Paws CBD oil and edibles. They are highly palatable, enriched with condition-specific ingredients, and made of organic, full-spectrum hemp. 

Green Lipped Mussels for Dogs. If your dog has osteoarthritis, Green Lipped Mussels (GLM) are an excellent option. Rich in omega fatty acids and with anti-inflammatory properties, they will help on various levels. We suggest using the Honest Paws Mobility GLM Powder. In addition to Green Lipped Mussels, the powder contains other joint-friendly ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, Boswellia serrata, hyaluronic acid, and MSM. 

Mobility - Green Lipped Mussel Joint Powder
  • This bacon popcorn flavored Honest Paws Joint Powder uses a blend of ingredients that focus on all-encompassing joint health and support.
  • It works to maintain joint mobility, improve cartilage development, and enhance overall bone and joint health.
  • Green lipped mussel extract contains a nutrient-rich blend of natural proteins, minerals and omega fatty acids.

Whether you prefer Metacam or some of its mainstream or natural alternatives, make sure you talk with your vet before starting to treat your dog. Please, keep in mind that the information in this article is educational and should not be used as a substitute for veterinary consultation.