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

alisandeMarch 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?



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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?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 1:43AM
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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?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 8:53AM
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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

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 11:22AM
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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

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 12:15PM
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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.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 5:46PM
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Hopefully the reduced dose will keep most of the benefits without as many side effects.

Here's wishing you both the best!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 10:12PM
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When is the last time his ears were cleaned??

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 10:45PM
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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.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 11:05PM
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murraysmom Zone 6 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.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 9:30AM
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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.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 11:48AM
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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:

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 9:58PM
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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.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 4:21PM
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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?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 6:11PM
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You'd think that mandatory preview would prevent that sort of thing, wouldn't you?...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 7:59PM
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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.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 5:08AM
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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

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 4:49AM
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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.....

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:56AM
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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.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:51AM
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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....

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:14PM
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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.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:20PM
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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!)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 5:29PM
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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...

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:30PM
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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.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 9:43AM
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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.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 5:12PM
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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.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 6:47PM
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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.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 1:15AM
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