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Prevalence of GI Ulcers in Dogs Treated with Long-Term NSAIDs

Sue Hudson Duran, RPh, MS, PhD, DICVP, FSVHP, FACVP, Auburn University

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In the literature

Mabry K, Hill T, Tolbert MK. Prevalence of gastrointestinal lesions in dogs chronically treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. J Vet Intern Med. 2021;35(2):853-859.


Gastroduodenal ulceration and perforation are potential complications of NSAIDs; however, the prevalence of chronic GI injury associated with administration in dogs is unknown. 

This prospective study sought to determine the prevalence of GI mucosal erosions in 14 client-owned medium- and large-breed dogs treated with an NSAID for ≥30 days. An additional 11 client-owned dogs were retrospectively evaluated as controls. 

Video capsule endoscopy was performed to record GI transit time and presence of mucosal lesions. Images could not be obtained from 2 dogs in the NSAID group. Of the remaining 12 dogs, 10 exhibited GI erosions. In the control group, 3 dogs had GI lesions. More erosions were detected in dogs receiving NSAIDs than those in the control group, and none of the dogs with lesions had reported clinical signs. GI transit time did not appear to be prolonged in dogs treated with NSAIDs.


Key pearls to put into practice:


Dog owners should be informed of the potential for GI ulceration in dogs receiving long-term NSAID treatment. Information sheets that detail potential adverse effects are recommended and available online from manufacturers of NSAIDs approved for use in dogs.


Regular recheck examinations are needed for dogs receiving chronic NSAID therapy. A thorough physical examination with standard laboratory evaluation, including CBC, serum chemistry profile, and urinalysis, is recommended. Renal and hepatic function and albumin levels should be monitored for necessary dosage adjustments with long-term NSAID use. NSAIDs are highly protein bound; dosage adjustments or changes in therapy should be considered in patients with low albumin.


Only NSAIDs specifically labeled for use in dogs should be administered. Proper dosage adjustments and frequent follow-ups are important. Owners should be instructed to never administer additional doses or increase the frequency of administration without asking the clinician.


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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