Cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors have been shown to exert anti-angiogenic and anti-tumor activities on many types of malignant tumors. These anticancer properties make it worthwhile to examine the possible benefit of combining COX inhibitors with other anti-cancer agents. In the present study, we evaluated the potential of deracoxib (DER) in potentiating antitumor activity of doxorubicin (DOX) in canine mammary carcinoma cells (CMT-U27). DER (50-250 mu M) enhanced the antiproliferative activity of DOX by reducing the IC50 (approximately 3- to 3.5 fold). Interaction analysis of the data showed that combinations of DOX at 0.9 mu M with DER (100-250 mu M) produced synergism in the CMT-U27 cell line, with a ratio index ranging from 1.98 to 2.33. In additional studies identifying the mechanism of observed synergistic effect, we found that DER strongly potentiated DOX-caused G(0)/G(1) arrest in cell cycle progression. Also, DER (100-250 mu M) augmented apoptosis induction with approximately 1.35- and 1.37-fold increases in apoptotic response caused by DOX in the cells. DER enhanced the antiproliferative effect of DOX in conjunction with induction of apoptosis by modulation of Bcl-2 expression and changes in the cell cycle of the CMT-U27 cell line. Although the exact molecular mechanism of the alterations in the cell cycle and apoptosis observed with DER and DOX combinations require further investigations, the results suggest that the synergistic effect of DOX and DER combinations in CMT therapy may be achieved at relatively lower doses of DOX with lesser side effects. Therefore, combining DER with DOX may prove beneficial in the clinical treatment of canine mammary cancer.