Metacam for Dogs: A Guide

Meloxicam for Dogs
What are the uses, dosage and side effects of meloxicam in dogs?

Metacam, also called meloxicam, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It is available only as a prescription medication in the form of tablets, injectables, and liquid. Metacam for dogs is given to relieve pain, fever, swelling, muscle injuries, and joint stiffness.

The drug contains 1.5mgs of meloxicam as an active ingredient and 1.5 mg of sodium benzoate. It is available as an oral suspension in form of 10, 32, 100 or 180 ml plastic squeeze bottle.

It is yellow in color and smells like honey. It is also available in form of 7.5mg or 15mg tablets and as an injectable. It is usually prescribed by a licensed veterinarian though it has not been officially approved for veterinary use.

How does meloxicam work?

Meloxicam is generally prescribed as a relief medication for pain, inflammation, and fever in dogs.

It acts by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) which is responsible for converting arachidonic acid to prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormones that mediate inflammatory responses in the body after cell injury.

Signs of inflammation include pain, redness, swelling, fever (heat) and loss of function in the affected area. They stimulate dilation of blood vessels thus causing an increase in blood supply to affected organs which is often seen as redness.

Such responses also cause the release of inflammatory cells which leads to pain and swelling and consequently loss of function of affected body organs and tissues. By inhibiting COX, prostaglandins are subsequently reduced therefore halting the process of inflammation.

Uses: Metacam for dogs

Metacam is commonly used for dogs in cases of:

  1. Osteoarthritis (inflammation of the joints) or rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders of the musculoskeletal system e.g. soft tissue injuries, disco-spondylosis, arthropathy to alleviate joint pain and stiffness
  2. Helps to alleviate postoperative pain and swelling
  3. Fever in the case of infections and disease
  4. General body pain or pain from tumors

Metacam is long acting. This means that its therapeutic effect takes action slowly after the initial dose but is maintained over a period of time. This is because it’s slowly absorbed and excreted from the body.

Metacam Dosage for Dogs

Meloxicam is usually given through the mouth either through food or directly administering it into the dog’s mouth.

An injectable form of the drug is also available but mostly used after surgical procedures to alleviate post-operative pain and swelling.

Dosage depends on the weight of the dog and the concentration of the prescribed drug. The initial dose is at 0.2mg/kg (0.1 mg per pound) followed by a dose of 0.1 mg/kg (0.05mg per pound) on subsequent days once daily.

Meloxicam dosage chart for dogs
Dosage chart for dogs based on weight. Source

This is done using a drop dispenser or syringe which is graduated according to the dosage in milligrams per kilogram. It is also available in the form of tablets at a concentration of 7.5 mg or 15 mg.

The medication should be shaken well before use. Thereafter the owner should pull the plunger of the syringe to draw the required amount of medication depending on the weight of the dog and dispense it into a bowl of food.

You should make sure all the food is eaten to avoid under-dosage. Dogs should be well hydrated throughout the treatment period by providing an ample supply of water. This is done mostly in puppies or dogs weighing less than 10 pounds. In big dogs, the medication is better administered directly into the mouth.

Improvement in symptoms is seen within 3 to 4 days. Treatment should be discontinued after 10 days.

Side effects of Metacam (Meloxicam) for dogs

Like other forms of medication, administration of meloxicam comes with its share of side effects. These include:

Adverse side effects can also develop. These include:

  • Dark tarry stool or at times red due to bleeding from stomach ulcers
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Yellowing of mucous membranes (jaundice)
  • Intense itching
  • Blood in vomit
  • Tender abdomen
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased thirst
  • Fluid retention in the abdomen leading to sudden weight gain
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Incoordination and seizures
  • Skin irritation
  • Renal failure

Behavioral side effects

Your dog’s usual behavior may change, and you may notice the following when he or she is under the medication:

  • Increased aggression
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in coordination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Sleepiness
  • Alopecia (loss of fur)
  • Hot spots (refer to where dogs lick a certain area multiple times – moist dermatitis
  • Anemia

In some cases, dogs may exhibit an allergic reaction to meloxicam which may lead to an anaphylactic shock and death.

Pet owners should always alert the veterinarian if their pet is allergic to meloxicam. This also applies if the dog has a history of stomach ulcers, diabetes, liver failure or kidney disease.  Common allergic reactions include:

  • Labored or rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Swelling of the face, nose, and lips
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Muscle cramps

In the event adverse or allergic reactions are observed, administration of the drug should be discontinued.

Metacam (Meloxicam)for dogs – overdose and poisoning

Poisoning usually occurs as a result of an overdose, accidental ingestion by dogs or administration of medication prescribed for human beings.

Just like children, medication should be kept out of reach of pets. You should also be careful to give the correct dose as prescribed by the veterinarian.

If poisoning is suspected, quickly contact and rush the affected pets to a veterinarian for emergency care. In the meantime, activated charcoal can be administered at home to absorb the drug from the digestive tract and repeated every 6-8 hours to completely absorb it from the bloodstream.

Diluted hydrogen peroxide can also be administered to induce vomiting. This should be done within 3 hours as past this time period absorption of the drug into the bloodstream has occurred.

In cases where there are stomach ulcers, medication such as omaprazole can be given for treatment.

If kidney toxicity results, intravenous fluids together with sodium bicarbonate are administered to flush out the drug from the system.

Symptomatic treatment is usually applied depending on apparent or presenting clinical signs.

Signs of meloxicam poisoning include:

  • Dark tarry stool
  • Diahorrea
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting (blood may be present)
  • Increased urination
  • Increased water intake
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gastric ulcers
  • enlarged abdomen


1. What if I missed my dog’s daily dose?

This is common and pet owners should not panic. It is advisable to give the dose immediately when you remember. However, if the dose is near the next dose, it’s advised to give the dose then. Never double the dose in this case. This may lead to an overdose and in severe cases, death.

2. What precautions should I follow before administering meloxicam to my dog?

As stated above, it is important to inform your veterinarian if your pet is allergic to meloxicam. This will allow him to give other alternative medication such as carprofen, Previcox, Deramaxx etc. Additionally, pets suffering from cardiovascular diseases, liver and kidney disease, stomach ulcers should not be given meloxicam. This also applies to:

  • Puppies less than 6 weeks old
  • Pregnant, breeding and lactating bitches
  • Dogs suffering from renal failure or are dehydrated
  • Dogs with bleeding disorders
  • Dogs under diuretic treatment

It is also important to let your veterinarian know of any medication that your dog is currently on to avoid adverse drug interactions. Meloxicam should not be administered concurrently with drugs such as Aspirin, Carprofen, Firocoxib, Deracoxib, Etodolac, Warfarin, Furosemide, and other steroidal drugs.