Generic Drug Name: Meloxicam
Other Common Names: Metacam
Meloxicam belongs to the class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. This is the class of medications that includes ibuprofen and aspirin. NSAIDs are not typically for use in animals due to a high risk of severe adverse effects, such as stomach ulceration, platelet deactivation, and decreased blood supply to the kidneys. Meloxicam offers the benefits of NSAIDs without the high risk of these severe side effects.
Meloxicam is primarily used to control arthritis pain in dogs, although it may also be used in the treatment of cancer, dental infections, injuries, and other conditions. In cats, meloxicam must be used cautiously. Its typical use in felines is to control surgical pain. The drug can also be used to treat fever.
Side effects associated with meloxicam in animals are common and may be severe. Stomach ulceration, inappropriate bleeding, and loss of kidney function are associated with use of meloxicam and other NSAIDs. Liver toxicity, while rare, is another possible side effect that cannot be predicted but may lead to death. The most common side effects associated with use include appetite loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Because these symptoms may be associated with liver dysfunction, their development requires cessation of the drug and liver testing. Administering meloxicam with food may reduce nausea. Jaundice, skin irritation, weight loss, behavioral changes, and changes in bowel movements are also possible. Repeated use of this drug in cats has been linked to acute renal failure and death.
This drug should not be used in animals with a history of liver or kidney disease. It is also not for use in pregnant or lactating animals or in puppies under 6 months of age. Animals with heart conditions, GI ulcers, or dehydration should not undergo treatment with meloxicam unless absolutely necessary.
Before an animal undergoes long-term treatment with meloxicam, a complete physical examination and blood screening test to identify kidney and liver disease must be done.
Meloxicam may interact with corticosteroids, such as prednisone and dexamethasone, aspirin, phenobarbital, ACE inhibitors, and some other medications. A rest period of 5 to 7 days is needed when switching from one NSAID to another. The rest period should be longer (10 to 14 days) when changing from meloxicam to aspirin.
Meloxicam should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug. Overdose of meloxicam is dangerous and potentially fatal, especially to cats. Care must be taken when dosing and administering this medication. Symptoms of overdose may include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, increased urination or thirst, fast or heavy breathing, pale gums, seizures, jaundice, dark or tarry stools, incoordination, or lethargy. Any known or suspected overdose should be reported to a veterinarian right away.
Meloxicam should be stored at room temperature, away from animals and children. This drug should not be exposed to extreme temperatures.
Meloxicam is available as tablets and as an oral suspension.
To produce an anti-inflammatory effect in dogs, meloxicam is typically dosed at 0.1 mg/lb (0.2 mg/kg) for the first dose, followed by 0.05 mg/lb (0.1 mg/kg) once daily. The one-time subcutaneous injection dose for cats is 0.14 mg/lb to control postoperative pain. Even a slightly wrong dose of meloxicam is very dangerous in cats, and it is therefore important to carefully measure doses and to not administer drops directly into a cat's mouth.
Doses may vary in different species, when the drug is given by a different route or concurrently with other medications, and with regards to a patient's age, breed, and health status. A veterinarian's dosing instructions and/or those printed on the medication label should be followed closely.
If a dose of meloxicam is missed, it should be given as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, the missed dose should be skipped. It is absolutely crucial to never give two doses of this medication at the same time. The risk of overdose and death is high, especially in cats.