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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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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My 5 month old kitten was bit on the head by my dog last night (he was trying to eat the dog's food). I didn't know it until this morning when he had a huge bump on his forehead and was acting very lethargic. The vet gave him a shot of Metacam and also sent us home with the oral version to give him .5mg a day. I called to verify and read the part from your article and they said that in this small dose it is okay and that because he is in extreme pain it is necessary. So I dunno what to think.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hello! gckebfb interesting gckebfb site! I'm really like it! Very, very gckebfb good!

    • Paulart profile image


      7 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

      Good hub.I appreciate your work and its very useful for all pet owners.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      One should always be cautious with certain information on the internet as well as that of your Doctor or Veternarian. If you are not sure or have a concern - always ask them to clarify or address your questions - or ultimately seek a qualified second opinion (not just the internet, some website, hub or blog).

      The truth is that Metacam can be safely given to cats **when given at the proper dosage**. It is processed differently by the liver in the cat vs. dog. The recent shift or change by the FDA was based a study that unfortunately used 5-10x higher dosages compared to what are currently thought to be safe (0.4-0.6mg/kg and higher in the study cited by the FDA & Metacam). That being said it is generally used at significantly lower dose of 0.1mg/kg for 1-2 days, then 0.025mg/kg every third or fourth day. Bloodwork & urinalysis evaluation prior to and monitoring with prolonged use is certainly recommended - and helps clarify which patients are good canidates for the drug. It is not the best option for every patient and can be flat out inappropriate for some patients - I guess that is true for all drugs. Even though it is not labeled for cats - it can still be prescribed as part of an off-label use. Just like it is not labeled for use in rabbits, rats, horses, ferrets, etc -- but at known safe / effective dosages it can be used (off label).

      I will say that I am just an informed consumer and by know means work for, nor would care to work for the company that produces this product. I have used it in my own cat for an associated problem without problems, but we do the monitoring and use it more appropriately. The other thing I would note is that there are not many good options for managing pain / inflammation in cats and that Buprenex (Buprenorphine) is not always the best choice either.

      Regards & God Bless

    • yoshi97 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from a land called 'what if?'


      I'm very sorry for your loss. And you're right: when you feel uncomfortable with what your vet tells you then you should definitely get a second opinion. Even the things I write, though very strongly researched, should be subject to a second opinion as no single person can know everything there is to know.

      For instance, there are certain dog meds that are OK for most dogs, but very dangerous to a few rare breeds. While one person might not be aware of these situations, another might. That's why it's so important to get a second opinion when there is any doubt - and a third when both opinions diverge from each other.

      I just lost my beloved Siamese, Keisha, to FIP this past year, so I can understand the pain of losing a loved one and feeling helpless over it. Alas, not all is curable through modern veterinary medicine.

      The cure for my own loss was to adopt a kitten from a no-kill shelter, and though she'll never replace Keisha, the selfless love she offers does help ease the pain of my loss. With so many kittens seeking a home, with time, this might be the cure that works for you too.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      My vet prescribed Metacam for my cat. I didn't give it to her for a couple of weeks because I was scared as she said that it might be hard on her kidneys. The next vet visit she got irritated that when I told her that I didn't give my cat the Metacam, like I wasn't taking her professional advice to help my cat. Well I gave it to my cat last night and she died today! I am so upset and heartbroken. I really wish that I didn't trust my vet blindly and I wish I researched the drug before I gave it to her. Don't trust vets so blindly, get a second opinion. I wish I had.

    • nettraveller profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you very much for a useful and responsible hub. I have been looking for an alternative to Metacam for my cat for some time, and even published a hub about it on this site. I will inquire about Buprenex with my vet. Since they never mentioned it there (and prescribed the liquid oral Metacam) I suspect they may not have it. The last time I filled the Metacam prescription for my cat was almost a year ago. He seemed to be OK on it, but after reading about the dangers of the drug on the Internet I didn't feel I could take the risk. It would be wonderful to find a safer painkiller for his arthritis. The way you handled that original negative comment made your hub so much more useful to all of us.

    • yoshi97 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from a land called 'what if?'

      Buprenex is a lot safer for cats than Metacam. As with any pet med, you should always have your vet examine your pet and prescribe the proper dosage.

      I found an excellent page on the internet that goes in-depth on this med. You'll find it here:

      While I could summarize it all, I think there's a lot of valid information given that's useful. Also, if I just paraphrased it all it could be considered plagiary. I hope this info helps.

    • profile image

      Simon's Mom 

      9 years ago

      I need to know about Buprenex suspension (oral)for cats. The most info I can find is Buprenex IV for humans. Those sites talk about getting this on your skin and getting it off quickly. I have the Buprenex suspension said to be given orally with food. It is .2 ml. Also, what is the expiration length? Can humans take this also for pain? ( the Buprenex suspension) I worry about the side effects for my cat. Can anyone please help?

    • yoshi97 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from a land called 'what if?'

      After a bit of trudging through the internet I have found that Simone is precisely right ... and that there are a lot of sites giving out some very bad info regarding cats and Metacam.

      This site here lists all of the details:

      And I have found others, so this isn't just one person running a smear campaign. The threat is very real and is being very much ignored. But not here ... as I have updated my info to reflect the new information my research has dug up.

      As always, I'm here to share the facts that my research produces. When someone says 'Yoshi, I think you got this wrong', I go and look it up ... because I want it to be right - especially when dealing with the safety of pets or humans.

      As such, if anyone ever sees an article of mine that is misinformed, don't be afraid to tell me. I'll either discover I was wrong and fix the article or discover I was right and point out the fallacy of the argument (and that one takes a lot as I always assume the reader to be right unless I can truly prove them wrong).

      So ... do not allow your vet to prescribe Metacam for your cat - have him prescribe Buprenex instead. And if the vet wants to give your cat ONE shot of Metacam, then allow it, as this is FDA approved. However, ONLY one.

      May your loved ones live a long and healthy life. :)

    • yoshi97 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from a land called 'what if?'

      The information came from several sites that agreed it was safe for cats, but I will do a bit more research and change the information if I find sites that say otherwise - or include a disclaimer if I can't find such info.

      I have a German Shepherd, a Siamese, and a Ocicat, and would never knowingly encourage anything harmful to pets - but still - I can only dispense the information I am given by my sources, and if my sources are wrong then I have no problem in posting that correction.

      I do thank you for bringing this to my attention and I will look into this later tonight. :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The metacam website says that it is only appropriate to give it to cats ONE TIME ONLY.

      It is NOT as safe for cats as it is for dogs. Every single piece of official literature out there for this drug says otherwise.

      It is safe for a single use, but it is a more dangerous drug for cats than for dogs. Much more care should be taken, and people should only give it to their cats ONCE!

      Your post is misleading at best.

      Why would you misinform people about this?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      thank you for this great hub. i wasn't sure where to obtain Metacam without a script...i have a bunny and i am making a first-aid kit for her, just in case (and yes, Metacam is safe for rabbits when used properly). thank you for thinking of our pets and their pain.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for this hub Yoshi :-)

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      9 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

      Handy advice for dog owners, medication can be very expensive so a reputable on line dealer is a good idea.


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