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A recent comment on How to give aspirin to a rabbit? brought up the topic of Metacam (Meloxicam) vs Aspirin (Acetylsalicylic acid) for long-term pain management in rabbits with arthritis or other age-related issues. They are both NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.

What are the known risks and benefits of metacam vs aspirin for long-term pain management therapy in rabbits?

Answers that focus on herbivore research are preferable to answers with research based on carnivores or omnivores.

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There is some good information at medirabbit.com

Aspirin

Dosage: 10 - 100 mg/kg (up to 400 mg/kg)

Method and Frequency; By Mouth 1 to 3 times daily

Aspirin is a blood thinner and must therefore be avoided in case there are internal bleedings or when surgery is planned

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Metacam (Meloxicam)

Dosage: 0.1 - 0.2 mg/kg (up to 1.5 mg/kg if needed)

Method and Frequency; By Mouth or subcutaneously 1 to 2 times daily

Very palatable for rabbits

Concurrent use with another NSAID, corticosteroid, or nephrotoxic medication must be avoided. If unavoidable, the rabbit should be monitored closely.

Long-term use appears to cause little adverse effects in rabbits

Should not be used in rabbits suffering from liver or kidney failure

I know for sure (from several rabbit specialist vets and BSAVA Formulary) that meloxicam is very safe for use in rabbits, even long term (one of mine has been on it for 2+years and it's a life saver for him, you can see immediate deterioration when a dose is missed, so I know it works and works well), at 0.3-0.6 mg/kg daily (0.5 being the minimal recommended) and doses as high as 1.5 mg/kg are well tolerated for several days. PLEASE NOTE this is not the case for carnivores and any overdose will cause blindness.

I run a rabbit rescue for ill animals so am medicating many of them at any given time. I have never used aspirin and, having seen several rabbit specialist vets with various rabbits, was never prescribed any aspirin for any of my rabbits; is always been meloxicam only. I shall ask my vets why this has been the case and try to follow up later.

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In addition to the great answer by Bernadette, it is pretty easy to train a rabbit to take metacam from an oral syringe.

In the image below, two days of training, has him coming to the syringe to get his metacam. When presented with it he comes up, puts it in his mouth and I genitally squeeze the plunger. No problem.

Rex taking metacam from syringe

Getting a rabbit to take an aspirin can be much more challenging and labor intensive.

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