Canine Medical Experts: Do you agree with my vet's course of treatment?

My 5 year old rescued male shih tzu has been miserable for about 2 months now with worsening symptoms. He’s got allergies and has been generally uncomfortable. He has very poor conformation up front (legs as crooked as my vet’s ever seen) and his back is way long (like a dachsund) so he is just setup perfectly for pain!

Let me preface the treatment plan by saying, I started the meds yesterday and I’m not kidding… he made it on his walk this morning for the first time in a month. Recently he would lay down after only 1/4 mile and I’d have to carry him home.

Zyrtec 5 mg twice a day
Rimadyl 25 mg twice a day
Cosequin DS 1 capsule per day

He feels that the zyrtec is very, very safe and effective for treating allergies without drowsiness. As for the Rimadyl, I’m a bit more concerned about this drug given its assoc w/ kidney problems. He said we won’t use it long term but just for now to calm things down.

What should I watch for as reaction to Rimadyl?
Wow, such great answers already! Just as a side note. I also switched my baby to Canidae lamb & rice formula dry food just a few days ago. I am told this is a better food, so hopefully will help him. He is my angel!

  1. Alicia G, 05 July, 2010

    I’m sure the Rimadyl will be fine. Especially if your not going to be using it long term. For right now it’s just helping with the pain. I’ve seen dogs on Rimadyl for years without any problems. If you are really concerned there is a newer drug out there that doesn’t have the sideeffects of Rimadyl. I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me. If you ask your vet I’m sure he’ll be able to tell you. It’s on the newer side so it’s probably more expensive.

    I’m sure that your dog will be fine. Keep in contact with your vet and let him know whether he has any change in his daily behaviour like drinking alot, urinating alot or if he seems like he is in any pain. Give him lots of hugs and kisses and relax. Enjoy having a dog that is in less pain and is able to do the things that he should be able to do. Good luck

  2. trickster_19, 05 July, 2010

    What is he allergic to and what are you feeding him on?

  3. sniffydogs, 05 July, 2010

    Thank-you for adopting a rescued dog.

    Unfortunately many small breeds are puppymill dogs and prone to many chronic diseases. Your vet sounds like he knows what he is doing.

  4. JeN, 05 July, 2010

    Rimadyl is safe in correct doses, but just like any pain medication is does affect the liver and the kidneys. It can be used for long-term pain relief, as long as the dog does not show any symptoms of organ damage – vomiting, lethargy, anorexia, etc. Blood tests every 6-12 months or so is also a good idea, to monitor for organ damage, though usually most dogs respond to it very well.

    The Glucosamine is a great idea as well, however you will save a lot of money and get a little more relief if you buy an osteo tripleflex labeled for humans (you know, the huge 1000 count bottles at Costco). Pet labeled glucosamine is very expensive, and the same dose in milligrams of a human equivalent will save you money, and the tripleflex also contains MSM, which will increase the effectiveness.

    Once the pain is under control, gradually backing off the Rimadyl will help you gauge the extent of the effect of the Cosequin. If your dog will need long term pain relief from a NSAID, don’t panic. Talk to your doctor about other options like Previcox (once daily, a bit more effective than carprofen, the drug in Rimadyl). If expense is an issue (these drugs ain’t cheap!) inquire about Novox (another brand of carprofen, same quality, but much more affordable than Rimadyl).

    For his allergies, you have a lot of different avenues. Blood tests to determine the exact source of his allergies is extremely useful, though it is spendy. If antihistamines seem to keep his allergies under control, roll with it. If the Zyrtec doesn’t work, try benedryl, loratadine, chlorpheniramine, and others. Each antihistamine has a slightly different mechanism for working, and usually with such a variety, one of them will work great. If your dog has food or flea allergies, antihistamines will have minimal effect.

  5. DP, 05 July, 2010

    I don’t like the Rimadyl, but sometimes you have to decide if the risks are worth the benefits. If you are talking short term, and you keep close watch… Feeding a good diet, TONS of clean fresh water..

    There is a medication that they can give you to give before you give the Rimadyl, to help protect the stomach, to help to avoid the issues with ulcers etc.

    The most common NSAID-related side effects generally involve the stomach (such as bleeding ulcers), and liver or kidney problems. Look for the following side effects that can indicate your dog may be having a problem with Rimadyl

    Decrease or increase in appetite
    Change in bowel movements (such as diarrhea, or black, tarry or bloody stools)
    Change in behavior (such as decreased or increased activity level, incoordination, seizure or aggression)
    Yellowing of gums, skin, or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
    Change in drinking habits (frequency, amount consumed)
    Change in urination habits (frequency, color, or smell)
    Change in skin (redness, scabs, or scratching)

  6. Bozema, 05 July, 2010

    Poor kid. It sounds like your rescue pup has found a good home.

    I haven’t heard of using Zyrtec for dogs but my dog with allergies was given benadryl (which can cause drowsiness) so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that Zyrtec might also be used. My only question is whether Claritin can be substituted in some way because it is available over the counter and much cheaper. Maybe the dosing is wrong or Claritin cannot be used in dogs, but it’s a question worth asking the vet. Also, I have an extreme allergy dog and I got his under control with a combination of hypoallergenic food (California Natural is the brand I feed) combined with biweekly baths to remove environmental allergens from his coat. And of course regular flea treatment with Frontline Plus or Advantix is a must. Once I followed this regimen, the allergy problems stopped and mine is off Benadryl entirely after several years of struggling to get things under control. However, keep in mind that allergy problems in dogs can be difficult to resolve and every case is different. Just something else to try.

    I agree with the Rimadyl and Cosequin for the joint pain. I had an older dog that was on Rimadyl and glucosamine for about 5 years and it added years to her life and gave her a lot of comfort – she lived to age 15 – she never did develop kidney problems. I would ask the vet what will happen when you take your dog off these meds and then the pain returns. I might be in favor of returning him to this program if no other good option exists to reduce the pain even if it might mean problems down the road because it really does help with quality of life in these dogs.

  7. mxdup277, 05 July, 2010

    Sounds like a plan!!
    Kidney issues usually start as an increase in drinking and the number of times the pup urinates. Glassy eyes and a change in pups hair coat are also an indication.
    I wouldn’t worry too much about the Rimadyl though, it works well enough to offset the risk of kidney failure…in my opinion! Hopefully you’ll be able to put him on it as needed in the future and reduce the risk even more.
    Some vet hospitals will do allergy tests to find out what your dog is allergic to and then produce an allergy serum that you inject in your animals. The idea is to gradually get your pups system used to the allergen with the hope that the allergy symptoms will stop over time. Can be very useful with severe allergies, but kind of pricey.

  8. Jocelyn7777, 05 July, 2010

    Well, I wouldn’t do it, but that is your dog. I would never give my dog allergy meds because most dog allergies are food related. Give a better quality food and the allergies usually lessen…If you feed a good raw diet like prey model- they go away. Rimadyl is horrible, it cause more problems and just suppresses the symptoms of the problem your dog currently has- it doesn’t "fix" anything. Ex. If you broke your leg, and took enough pain meds not to feel the pain… you might be able to walk that way, should you… NO! So all you are doing is giving a pain med to cover up the pain the dog is feeling… will this help, no… could it cause more problems, sure…. the dog has no way to know he shouldn’t be doing something- no pain to tell him to stop!

    Cosequin DS- is a nice way for the vet to get money out of you for glucosamine chondroitin…

    Personally, I’d look into a really good raw diet, like prey model- where you should get plenty of naturally occuring glucosamine chondroitin.
    (a really good source of gc is raw chicken feet- I know gross, but it works…)

    Oh, and I’d find a good homeopathic vet who is going to treat the problem not the symptoms. Many have found lots of help through having their dog adjusted (like chiropractic care for humans) along their back…

    The point is that if the problem is found you might be able to fix it, not treat the symptoms like the pain, and ignore the real issue.

    I know a woman who rescues Yorkies and other small dogs… she gets all the ones with "problems" like this, and switches them to raw diets right away. She has had amazing success!

    Good luck!

  9. iluvtorofl, 05 July, 2010

    This is just me…… but new drugs are not always the best or the safest. You know what aspirin does and what its side effects are going to be. I would use it. It has been on the market for a hundred+ years and I know it is relatively safe. Let somebody else be the guinea pig for the new stuff. How many people wish they had done that with Avandia or Vioxx? The Cosequin is fine, but you could probably just get a generic OTC supplement cheaper. Newer and fancier is not always better.

    I am glad your dog is doing better though.

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