By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is firocoxib?

Firocoxib (brand names: Previcox®, Equioxx®) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) used to treat pain and inflammation in dogs and horses. It is most frequently used to treat arthritis and pain after surgery or trauma.

It may also be effective in treating transitional cell carcinoma (a type of cancer) in dogs, however this use is not FDA approved and is considered ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their direction may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is firocoxib given?

Firocoxib is given by mouth in the form of a chewable tablet or oral paste, but it may also be compounded into a liquid form. It may be given with or without food; however, if vomiting occurs when dosed on an empty stomach, give future doses with food or a treat. Measure liquid forms of the medication carefully.

This medication will take effect quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours, and improvement in clinical signs should follow.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

The most common side effects include vomiting, lack of appetite or decreased appetite. More serious side effects include persistent decreased appetite or vomiting, changes in bowel movements, changes in behavior, changes in energy levels, incoordination, seizures, aggression, yellow skin/gums, skin changes, and changes in drinking or urination habits. If serious side effects are noted, contact your veterinarian.

This moderate-acting medication should stop working in a few days, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Firocoxib should not be used in pets that are allergic to it or in pets allergic to other NSAIDs. It should be used with extreme caution in pets that have gastrointestinal ulcerations or pets with bleeding disorders. Firocoxib should be used cautiously in patients with kidney, liver, or heart disease, or in pets that are dehydrated, have low blood pressure, are on diuretic medications, are taking other NSAIDs, or are elderly, pregnant, or lactating. Do not use the tablets in dogs less than 12.5 lbs (5.7 kg) as the medication cannot be dosed that small. Do not use in dogs younger than 7 months old.  

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with firocoxib: ACE inhibitors, aspirin, corticosteroids, digoxin, fluconazole, furosemide, highly protein bound drugs (such as phenytoin, valproic acid, anticoagulants, etc.), methotrexate, or nephrotoxic drugs.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

Baseline and regular monitoring of a CBC, liver enzymes, kidney function, electrolytes, urinalysis, and physical examination are required prior to and during your pet's treatment with this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working. You should monitor your pet for serious side effects.

How do I store firocoxib?

Store at room temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C). Refer to the label on compounded forms of this medication for storage recommendations.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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