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Metacam For Dogs (Cat Owners Read Carefully)

Updated on May 9, 2011

What is Metacam?

Metacam is a drug used primarily to treat arthritis in dogs. It's a member of the NSAID family, which makes it a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. As such, it lowers the body temperature and relieves pain (by reducing inflammation) without impairing the dog's consciousness.

We, ourselves, take these many times over a lifetime. You can understand Metacam's usage better be thinking of it is aspirin (or ibuprofen) for dogs.

Just like we take aspirin for aches and pains and we take ibuprofen for a fever, our dogs are prescribed Metacam for the same situations. More often then not, a veterinarian will prescribe it for arthritis, cancer, or to aid the recovery from a recent injury or surgery.

How Safe is it for my Dog?

It's typically very safe, with loss of appetite being the most common side effect. However, if your veterinarian prescribes Metacam there are serious side effects you should be aware of:

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Diarrhea

If any of these symptoms occur, stop giving this medication to your dog and consult your veterinarian as this could be a sign of a larger problem.

It Could Cause Kidney or Liver Disease

In some rare instances, Metacam has been known to cause kidney or liver disease in dogs. That's why you need to watch for the signs given above, as they are all indicative of your dog having an adverse reaction to this medication.

Typically, if your dog does experience complications, they will go away within two to three weeks of discontinuing the medication; however, there are rare instances where the complications grow worse, which is why you need to consult with your veterinarian to be certain your pet is safe.

Arthritis is common among older dogs
Arthritis is common among older dogs

How is Metacam Given to Your Dog?

Metacam is a liquid typically given to your dog once a day. The dose is determined by your dog's weight and it has a honey flavoring (just take my word for it) that your dog will probably like. Metacam can also be injected intravenously, but this is only to be done by a trained veterinarian and is not necessary after the first dose.

As the dosage is delivered in liquid form, it's much easier to adjust the dosage. Many other medicines used for pain relief in dogs are given in pill form, which is difficult to get your dog to swallow and also often results in the need for you to cut the pills to get the right dosage. For anyone who has ever had to cut pills for your dog and then convince them to take them, you know the anxiety that can rise over this ritual - especially when it becomes a daily chore. This is the main benefit of using Metacam.

Is it Safe for My Cat?

When I first wrote this article all of the research I had said Metacam was safe for cats. I checked my resources, and they still say the same thing; HOWEVER, I urge you to read on.

A reader by the name of Simone posted in the comments section down below that Metacam was NOT suitable for cats, and pretty much shamed for for recommending it. Now, as a pet lover I was floored - not because I had been called out for doling out faulty data, but because I had unknowingly missed some very important research.

Read on, reader, as what I am about to share with you is VERY important. The FDA has stated - after a lot of research, which I agree is valid - that Metacam is safe for cats ONLY when given as ONE injection. This means you should not allow your vet to give your cat multiple injections of Metacam and you definitely should not fill any prescription for the oral suspension form.

Buprenex has been recommended as a replacement and it does appear to be a lot safer.

Now, with that said I would like to add that Metacam has been proven typically effective in cats when administered as an injection and the FDA approves of this. Also, many people have had good luck with Metacam for their cats (myself included) so you will hear many testimonies as to how it works so well. Regardless, the incidents of kidney failure, renal failure, and deaths is far too high for me to consciously recommend this med for cats anymore and I do thank Simone for being an angel of mercy and making me aware of this issue.

Metacam is still safe for dogs and is FDA approved for their treatment - this is only in regards to cats.

I will also add that the FDA now places a warning inside every Metacam package stating what I have just told you, so my advice above to read EVERYTHING that comes in the box is still very solid wisdom.

Vets aren't killers looking to take away your loved ones, but they are incapable of knowing all research concerning all pet meds, so there might still be some vets out there that thing Metacam is perfectly safe for cats. As such, if your met prescribes an oral suspension of metacam for your cat, be certain to ask for Buprenex instead and let the vet know what you heard here ... the FDA has disproved Metacam for cats in all instances but one instance - they still consider one injection to be safe.

So, play it safe ... and remember, you read it here.

And Simone ... wherever you may be ... thank you for caring enough to help set the record straight. :)

A life without pain allows your dog to run free again
A life without pain allows your dog to run free again

Can I Purchase Metacam Online?

We all know prescriptions for animals can be costly, especially when purchased from the vet. By going online to a place like, you can cut out the middleman and purchase the meds directly. Here are some caveats to be aware of:

  1. Always (I can't stress this one enough) have the veterinarian prescribe Metacam before purchasing it on your own. The veterinarian will make you aware of the proper dosage, how to give that dosage, and for how long to continue it. Also, should problems arise, the veterinarian will already know your dog's history and will be more capable of treating them. Don't risk your dog's life - he wouldn't knowingly risk yours.
  2. Only buy from places online that are nationally known. Yes, you can find it a lot cheaper by shopping in shady markets, but your dog's life hangs in the balance of your decisions, so make wise ones.
  3. Buy only as much as you will need. Stocking up on pet medicines will often give one the false impression they have become their own pet doctor, and this can be very dangerous to the health of your dog. It's okay to save money on your pets medicines, but never assume you can take the place of a trained veterinarian when it comes to the treatment of your dog.
  4. Order ahead! Know when the prescription is running low and order ahead, just in-case the place you order from is out-of-stock.

Anything Else I Need to Know?

Only that animals are much like people, not wanting to live with pain. As such, Metacam is an excellent alternative to such pain, allowing your animal to live a fulfilled life, especially in the case of arthritis.

Your veterinarian will tell you if Metacam is the right medicine for your dog, but if he doesn't mention it as a possible solution, don't be afraid to ask. It's easy for a good veterinarian to allow this one to slip from his mind, given the many pain relievers available for dogs.

Just remember, as a rule, veterinarians are animal lovers too. As such, respect their advice, as they are looking out for an animal they care about, just like you.

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