Metacam(®) is an oral and injectable NSAID primarily used in dogs with osteoarthritis. Its active ingredient is meloxicam, an oxicam derivative, which begins working to reduce pain in as little as 30 minutes, but this drug does carry some risks. Firstly, it can be taxing on the kidneys which could make the medicine unsuitable for use in dogs with existing kidney disease or high blood pressure, and secondly it could cause problems in pets who are not kept well hydrated throughout treatment.

Alternatives: If natural supplements such as glucosamine fail to provide relief tramadol is a good first choice for pain medication. When compared to NSAIDs tramadol is often safer though it masks the symptom of pain instead of physically acting on the painful area and can affect cognitive function. You can read more about tramadol and its use in treating dogs here.

Recommended Dosage

Note: Because of the potential risks involved, owners should never give this medicine to their pet without veterinary guidance.

Inserts in Metacam products recommend a dosage of 0.09 mg/lb on the first day administered by injection or by mouth, with doses on subsequent days halved to 0.045 mg/lb to be taken by mouth.

Meloxicam for dogs dosage chart

Treatment should end as soon as possible to minimize the chance of side effects, do not prolong treatment time. You should also check the packaging and product carefully as the concentrations of meloxicam can vary from product to product.

When using the drops, do not place directly into your dog’s mouth. Instead place them onto food. Be very careful when treating smaller animals due to the increased risk of accidental overdose.

Example: A 30 lb dog would need 2.7 mg on the first day, and 1.35 mg by mouth on subsequent days of treatment.

How Safe Is It?

Metacam has some history regarding the FDA. The FDA has currently approved the drug to treat osteoarthritis (see application numbers 141-213 and 141-219) but have come down on its manufacturer for promoting off-label uses in the past. In recent times they have also issued warnings to cat owners that repeated use in cats can lead to kidney failure and even death.

Pregnancy/Nursing: The drug passes in the milk and could potentially cause damage to fetuses. Do not administer to a pregnant or nursing dog.

Safety Guidelines

Never give the medicine to your dog without veterinary guidance as there are a number of risks associated with this drug.

Do not give to dogs who suffering from the following conditions:

  • Gastrointestinal ulcers/bleeding
  • Poor heart function
  • Poor kidney function
  • Poor liver function
  • Clotting disorders

Avoid giving the drug to dogs who are pregnant/nursing or who are under the age of 6 months. To minimize the chance of kidney damage avoid use if possible in dogs who are dehydrated, suffering from decreased blood volume or suffering from high blood pressure. Watch your dog closely for side effects and try to keep the treatment time as short as possible.

Drug interactions: This medicine interacts with many other drugs including (but not limited to) ACE inhibitors, aspirin, corticosteroids, furosemide and other NSAIDs. Always disclose to your vet any other medicines and supplements you are giving to your dog.

What Is It Used For?

Metacam is used worldwide to treat the following conditions in dogs:

  • Acute and chronic pain associated with inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis

In the States it is only indicated for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

Side Effects

Side effects associated with the use of Metacam includes:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Soft stools
  • Loss of appetite


  • Azotemia
  • Dark tarry stools
  • Itching
  • Kidney failure
  • Ulcers

Contact the vet in the case of adverse reactions.


Always seek immediate care in the case of overdose. You can reach the ASPCA poison control hotline on (888) 426-4435.

Overdoses of Metacam could result in serious side effects such as kidney failure, liver damage, high blood pressure, cardiovascular collapse, heart attack and more. Cholestyramine can speed up the elimination of meloxicam from the body.


Boehringer Ingelheim (manufacturer)
Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook (sixth edition)