What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?

By Melena Gurganus

As dogs age, they become more susceptible to inflammation, arthritis, and other painful conditions that can make it hard for them to maintain their spunky nature. Many pet owners ask their veterinarian, “What can I give my dog for pain?” but the answer isn’t always as easy as you might imagine. There are plenty of medications that alleviate pain in humans, but not all of these options are well-suited for canines. Find out how you can tell that your dog is in pain, and the best possible solution that’s safe for dogs.

Signs That Your Dog May Be In Pain

In some instances, it may be obvious that your dog is in pain. Symptoms like swelling, redness, limping, tenderness to touch, or whimpering sounds are all signs that your dog may be experiencing pain. However, more subtle changes in behavior can also be an indication that something isn’t quite right.

It may be time to find a suitable method of pain relief if you observe your dog acting differently or notice these actions:

  • Easily agitated
  • Changes in appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Persistent panting
  • Excessive grooming
  • Shaky posture

All pet owners want what’s best for their dog, but not everything that’s safe for us is safe for them. This is important to remember when deciding what to give your dog for pain. Common pain relievers found in your medicine cabinet may not be safe for your dog, and it’s important to know what to avoid.

What to NOT Give Your Dog

While there are many over-the-counter medications that are safe for use in humans, this does not mean they are suitable for your pup. Many of these drugs are NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that contain naproxen, which can be poisonous for dogs and cats. Other pain killing and fever reducing drugs like tylenol are not NSAIDs, but they do contain acetaminophen, another toxic ingredient for pets. To avoid potentially severe and negative side effects in your dog, refrain from giving them these common household medications:

  • Aleve
  • Advil
  • Excedrin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Midol
  • Tylenol

Instead of relieving pain, administering any of these drugs to your dog may lead to other more serious health issues, including:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Liver dysfunction or failure
  • Death

To avoid these harmful side effects, human NSAIDs and other pain killing drugs should not be given to dogs without exercising extreme caution and seeking veterinary guidance.

When It’s Time to Talk with Your Vet

If you know that your dog suffers from pain, the best thing you can do is get your vet’s opinion on their diagnosis. This will offer a clearer picture of what may be the root cause of the issue, and the most appropriate treatment option. There are a few different choices that your vet may prescribe depending on your dog’s condition and specific needs, but here a few of the most common pain medications for dogs:

  • Aspirin—While this NSAID is often used by humans, it can also be prescribed to dogs for short term relief. When using aspirin for dogs, it should only be administered in small doses (like baby aspirin) and should never be used to treat long-term or chronic pain issues.
  • NSAIDs for dogs—Carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl), deracoxib (Deramaxx), firocoxib (Previcox), and meloxicam (Metacam) are much different than human NSAIDs since they are specifically formulated for dogs and only available through a veterinarian prescription.
  • Tramadol—As a type of opiod, this painkiller can offer significant relief for aging pets with frequent discomfort, but it can also have side effects like upset stomach, vomiting, and dizziness.
  • Gabapentin—This type of medication is used to treat chronic pain, most often stemming from the nerves. It is also commonly paired with other NSAIDs so they can be administered in lower doses.

These dog-specific treatments are much safer options as opposed to many regular human medications, but some pet parents have started to look towards more holistic healing methods as an alternative to harsh drugs.

Natural Remedies for Pain Relief in Dogs

In an effort to find more natural ways to relieve their dog’s pain, dog owners have found simplistic ways to ease their symptoms without the need for a prescription or NSAID use.

  • Supplements—Natural substances like glucosamine and chondroitin are found in the cartilage of dogs, and using wellness supplements that include these ingredients can sometimes alleviate pain in the joints.
  • CBD oil—With its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, CBD oil for dogs has quickly become a popular wellness supplement to help reduce aches and pains without any serious side effects.
  • Herbs—Certain herbs can be great for mitigating inflammation, like comfrey and turmeric. Comfrey is best used to create a soothing topical, and turmeric can be mixed in with food or treats to promote wellness from the inside out.
  • Dog foods—Giving your dog a healthy type of food that includes beneficial ingredients like blueberries, sweet potatoes, fish oil, and ginger can help prevent arthritis pain in the long run.

The Right Choice for Your Dog

Every animal is different, and what works best for one dog may work different for another. If you’re asking yourself what you can give your dog for pain, always remember that some human medications may be unsafe for dogs. Before you introduce any treatment option, we recommend getting a professional opinion from your veterinarian and discussing the different types of pain meds for dogs.

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