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PICO question

In dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis, is meloxicam superior to carprofen for reducing patient discomfort?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research question


The number and type of study designs reviewed

Only two papers have compared the efficacy between meloxicam and carprofen in the treatment of dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Both of the papers were clinical, prospective and randomised trials.

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

One randomised controlled clinical trial compared the level of efficacy between meloxicam and carprofen in reducing pain and discomfort in dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis1. Orthopaedic surgeons found dogs treated with either meloxicam or carprofen showed significant improvement in ground reaction forces (GRF). The study emphasised that dogs treated with meloxicam had GRF values that returned to normal baseline values, with owners also commenting on gait improvement. This study however, had a low sample size, did not use a validated metrology instrument for assessment by owners and the data used to assess GRF was not conclusive on all parameters to favour meloxicam.

An additional study was evaluated but this also had very small case numbers, no control group and gave no detailed statistical analysis2. The paper descriptively suggests meloxicam to show a better response than carprofen but there was no scientific analysis or evidence to statistically support and validate this.


Both meloxicam and carprofen are validated as effective treatments for canine osteoarthritis but it cannot be suggested that meloxicam is superior to carprofen as the available evidence is weak. To accurately assess this, a future clinical study using validated metrology instruments, adequate sample sizes and proper statistical analysis is required.


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision-making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


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