Metacam for Dogs and Cats


Liquid / tablets

Active ingredient



Pain relief / anti-inflammatory

What is Metacam?

Metacam is a brand name for a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) called meloxicam. It’s commonly used as a pain relief and anti-inflammatory.

What does Metacam do?

Metacam works by blocking inflammatory signals in your pet’s body. It specifically targets and blocks an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX). This enzyme is like a tiny machine in the body that takes a substance called arachidonic acid and turns it into something known as prostaglandin H2. This process is important because prostaglandin H2 is a key player in creating inflammation, which can cause pain and swelling in your pet.

By blocking COX, especially a form of it called COX-2, meloxicam helps reduce the production of these prostaglandins. This action is crucial because COX-2 is mainly involved in causing inflammation and pain. Interestingly, meloxicam does this while having a lesser effect on COX-1, another form of the enzyme that’s more involved in maintaining healthy functions in the stomach and kidneys. This selective action makes Metacam a smart choice for managing pain and inflammation with a reduced risk of some side effects commonly seen with less selective medications.

What is Metacam for?

Metacam is often the go-to medication for a range of situations where your pet might be experiencing pain and inflammation. It’s particularly helpful in cases like:

  • Arthritis Management: For pets, especially older ones, suffering from arthritis, Metacam can significantly ease joint pain and swelling, making their daily movements more comfortable.
  • Post-Surgery Recovery: After surgeries, pain and inflammation are likely. Metacam helps manage this pain and reduces inflammation, aiding in a smoother and more comfortable recovery process.
  • Non-specific Injury Relief: In instances where your pet might have suffered an injury like a wound or a sprain, Metacam is effective in alleviating the associated pain and inflammation, helping them to heal faster.
  • Dental Pain: It’s also used to relieve pain associated with dental procedures or dental diseases, ensuring your pet’s mouth heals without too much discomfort.

There are lots of other situations where your vet may decide that Metacam is the best option for your pet.

What are the possible side effects with Metacam?

Like all medications, Metacam can have side effects. These are generally rare when the drug is used properly. While many dogs and cats tolerate Metacam well, especially when used as directed by your vet, there are potential side effects to be aware of:

  • Digestive Issues: Some dogs might experience stomach upsets, which can include symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, or a loss of appetite.
  • Liver and Kidney Health: In rare cases, there can be effects on liver or kidney functions. Your vet might recommend regular blood tests to monitor these organs, especially if Metacam is used long-term.
  • Changes in Behaviour: Keep an eye out for any unusual changes in your dog’s behaviour or activity levels. For example, they might seem more tired than usual or less interested in things they usually enjoy.
  • Allergic Reactions: Though not common, allergic reactions can occur. Signs to watch for include skin irritations, itching, or swelling, especially around the face.

Remember, this list doesn’t include all possible side effects, and most pets won’t experience any of these. However, if you notice any side effects or if your cat or dog still seems uncomfortable after taking Metacam, it’s always best to contact your vet right away.

How to give Metacam safely

There are a few things you can do at home to reduce the risk of side effects from Metacam in your pet:

  1. Follow vet instructions: Always use Metacam exactly as your vet has prescribed. This includes the right dose and frequency. Never adjust the dose on your own, even if your dog or cat seems to be feeling better or worse. If you aren’t sure of the dose prescribed, please call your vet to confirm.
  2. Only use the syringe provided: If using the liquid product, be aware that the Metacam syringe is not a normal ml syringe. For ease of dosing, the numbers on the side correspond to your pet’s weight. This means that the ‘5’ on the syringe is for 5kg, not 5mls. If you lose the syringe that comes with the Metacam, call your vet and arrange to get a spare. Do not use a syringe from a different brand or product as this could lead to the wrong dose being given.
  3. Shake the bottle: Metacam is a suspension, and the drug may settle over time and become uneven in the bottle. Make sure you shake it before drawing up the dose.
  4. Give with or after food: It’s safest to give Metacam on a full stomach. You can either put it on your pet’s food or syringe it directly into their mouth after they’ve eaten.
  5. Check with your vet if giving anything else: Your vet should be aware of other drugs your pet is on, but it’s always worth double-checking in case there’s been a miscommunication somewhere. If your dog is on supplements or non-prescription treatments you should also tell your vet when they prescribe Metacam, as they may not be suitable to be given together.
  6. Report any accidental overdose to your vet immediately: If you have mistakenly given too much Metacam, report it to your vet as soon as you realise the error. They may recommend blood tests, intravenous fluids, or monitoring, depending on the severity of the overdose.

Metacam FAQs

How quickly does Metacam work?

Metacam oral solution usually works within 1-2 hours. If you’re still seeing signs of pain after 2 hours, you should contact your vet or advice, as additional pain relief may be needed.

How long can you give a dog Metacam for?

Metacam can be used either short- or long-term in both dogs and cats, and there isn’t an upper limit to how long it’s safe to use for. However, the risk of side effects does increase if it’s used for more than a few days, so vets will recommend that pets on long-term therapy are monitored with blood tests to ensure no harm is being done. In most cases, the benefit of long-term use outweighs the risk, and pets can live happily on Metacam for many years.

Is it better to give Metacam morning or night?

You can give Metacam in the morning or at night, as long as they’re having food. The most important thing is to choose a time you’ll remember, as it should be given every 24 hours. If either works for you, then morning might be slightly better- your dog gets the full impact of the medication while they’re awake, and it starts to wear off as they’re asleep and don’t need it as much.

Can I buy Metacam over the counter or without a veterinary prescription?

Metacam is a prescription-only medication (POM-V), which means you can’t buy it over the counter or without a veterinary prescription. Your vet will need to examine your pet in order to prescribe Metacam, even if you’ve used it before. You can either buy your Metacam from the vet, or you can ask them for a ‘written prescription’ which enables you to buy the Metacam from another pharmacy or online pharmacy. There is usually a small charge for this written prescription.

What can I use instead of Metacam for my dog?

Substitutions for Metacam are usually other NSAIDs like cimicoxib (Cimalgex), carprofen (Rimadyl, Dolagis), or robencoxib (Onsior). Grapiprant (Galliprant) is more COX-2 selective than Metacam so is sometimes used when dogs need NSAIDs but are having side effects. Other types of pain relief may also be needed. There are no over-the-counter pain relief drugs in dogs – you will need to contact your vet for an examination and a prescription.

Metacam Datasheet

All drugs have a manufacturer’s datasheet, which gives information about the drug’s use and possible side effects. There is usually one in your Metacam box, but if you have lost it you can click on the button below to be taken on an online version.

Courses related to Metacam

Please note that the information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only. Although it has been written by a vet, we cannot consider the individual nature of your pet’s problems so it does not constitute veterinary advice. If you have questions about your pet’s medication or their health you should contact a vet, who will be able to help.