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One of my dogs is very ill at the moment. An x-ray showed that she had undergone massive changes to the vertebrae in the middle of her spine. She either had a tumour or osteomyelitis - an infection which occurs within the bone structure. As time has gone on it seems more likely that she has osteomyelitis, but over the last few months she has regularly needed pain relief.
Rosie has an additional problem. After two major operations on her stomach last year she was diagnosed as having eosinophilic enteritis. Put simply it means that she is very sensitive to any food outside her very restricted diet. When she goes out she wears a mask to ensure that she can't eat anything she shouldn't! Pain relief affects even the most sensitive of stomachs with regular use and with Rosie the problem is very difficult indeed.
Injury to muscle or bone creates inflammation and it's this which causes pain. Steroids are the most effective drugs for reducing inflammation but they have long term effects and are only used when nothing else will do the trick. Vets and doctors prefer to use a class of drugs known as Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - or NSAIDs for short. They work by stopping the body producing a substance which causes pain, inflammation or fever. One such NSAID is meloxicam and this is the active ingredient in Metacam. The drug is available on veterinary prescription and only for dogs.
When giving pain relief vets seem to turn first to Rimadyl possibly because it comes in the form of a palatable biscuit and is easy to administer. It is also aggressively marketed by Pfizer. Rosie took Rimadyl for a couple of weeks and then started being sick. We gave her a break from the drug but the symptoms returned after a week when the drug was restarted. As pain relief was still needed we turned to Metacam, but my vet warned that he was prescribing it not because it was better than Rimadyl, but because it WASN'T Rimadyl.
Metacam is available in 10, 32 or 100ml bottles. Vets advise on the most suitable size for your dog, but don't buy a large bottle if you're unlikely to use it quickly as an opened bottle only has a shelf life of six months. The bottle has the usual child-proof lock, but the top is small enough to grip easily and I've had no problems even with my problem hands. I write the date of opening on the bottle so that I can check it doesn't go past its shelf life. Prices for the product vary and you will almost certainly pay through the nose for it from a vet, but if you can persuade him to write a prescription you can buy it from www.bestpetpharmacy.co.uk for £4.64 for the 10ml size, £11.48 for 32ml and £27.57 for 100ml. The vet will probably charge for writing the prescription.
The first problem you encounter with Metacam is that you need to be able to use a dosing syringe. That's where you attach the syringe to the bottle of medication, turn the bottle upside down and draw off the amount you need. [Tip: let go of the bottle once you've got it upside down and don't touch it again until you've drawn off the amount you need.] The second point is that you'll need to know and remember your dog's weight as the markings on the side of the syringe (which is provided with the medication) are in kilograms. Once mastered the procedure is simple, particularly if you have a dog of a reasonable size. Rosie weighs 40kg and this is clearly marked. For small breeds the vet would provide a drop dispenser as it would be difficult to draw the correct amount of liquid for a very small dog.
The smell of the liquid is rather strange - the closest I could get is "just slightly rotting leaves". The manufacturers describe the liquid as "honey-flavoured", but that's not what I smell. Metacam is given with the dog's food and the smell and taste haven't put Rosie off in the slightest, but then not much ever does. If your dog is a picky eater I would be inclined to make certain that the medication is mixed into the food very thoroughly. On the first day two doses are given and after that one dose at twenty-four-hourly intervals.
The drug company - Boehringer Ingelheim - say that a clinical response is normally seen within three to four days. With Rosie I can see an easing of the pain within half an hour. She will be able to relax and sleep. With Rimadyl the initial response time is three-quarters of an hour to an hour, but with the same result. There is an obvious lessening of the pain throughout the following day with both drugs.
Metacam can't be given to pregnant or lactating bitches. There are a whole range of other conditions which could be worsened if it is given but as the drug is only available on prescription I won't detail these. A vet should be aware of any problems the dog has. It's always worth reminding the vet when he's prescribing just so you can both be certain that the medication is right for the dog.
Metacam does have side effects. These range through loss of appetite, sickness, diarrhoea, blood in the stools and apathy. The manufacturers say that these problems usually occur in the first week and disappear once the treatment is terminated. Rosie usually manages four days before some loss of appetite is evident and we have to adjust her diet to prevent sickness. We also discontinue the drug. With Rimadyl we can usually manage a week of pain relief.
On balance I prefer Rimadyl. It's easier to administer and easier to be accurate about the dose. It can also be used for slightly longer before it upsets a delicate digestive system.
Re below - it's rather surprising that you rated it SH then!
Gemerina 20.11.2005 02:32
very informative for a very much loved animal- the dog, thank u
rosillew 20.11.2005 01:30
Ahhhhh poor Rosie...give her a gentle hug from me.... I have been on this for a year now, No not Metacam.... but meloxicam 15mg a day as well as Leflunomide 10mg codydramol and 2,000mg of Sulphasalazine ....I didn't know they gave meloxicam (Metacam) to dogs...... I have to have my blood and a wee tested every 3 weeks .... because of the side effects, I do hope it helps Rosie.... because the pain is unbareable at times. Please keep us updated as to how she is bless her. Heatherx