A double-blind, randomised, controlled, multicentre field study was conducted to compare the safety and efficacy of firocoxib chewable tablets and carprofen tablets in 218 dogs with osteoarthritis. Firocoxib is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug with more than 350-fold selectivity in dogs for the inducible isoform of the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase-2. The efficacy, tolerance and ease of administration of firocoxib (5 mg/kg/day) and carprofen (4 mg/kg/day) were assessed by the owners and the attending veterinarians during 30 days of treatment. The efficacy was assessed in terms of the dogs' overall scores at the end of the treatment, based on the veterinarians' assessment of lameness, pain on manipulation/palpation, range of motion, and joint swelling; 92·5 per cent of the dogs treated with firocoxib and 92·4 per cent of the dogs treated with carprofen had improved. The reduction in lameness in the dogs treated with firocoxib was significantly greater than in the dogs treated with carprofen. The owners' evaluations were that 96·2 per cent of the dogs treated with firocoxib and 92·4 per cent of the dogs treated with carprofen had improved, and this difference was statistically significant.