Pain Relief for Dogs – What Can I Give My Dog for Pain

Picture of grey dog on a sofa

Both dogs and cats are notorious for hiding pain, but if you do notice its signs, it usually means that your pooch is hurting rather badly. If your dog has undergone surgery, for example, the veterinarian might provide you with several types of anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers that will do the trick over a specific time span until your four-legged friend fully recovers.

The type of pain that is the hardest to manage is the long-term one, and this occurs in cases where your Fido is old, and you can’t really do much about health conditions such as arthritis, for example, other than to provide him or her with some momentary relief.

In this article, we will discuss the type of medications that you could give to your dog for pain and some of the myths surrounding these drugs, as well.

Telling That Your Dog Is in Pain

As we have mentioned in the beginning, dogs are known for hiding pain. There are several signs that you could discern, however, and they range from a significantly decreased energy level to biting behaviors. If your dog is usually calm and affectionate, biting could occur as a result of distress or pain, and it can range from biting others to biting themselves.

They will also protect the sensitive area. Inflammation and swelling are two of the signs that could occur in the body region that is affected, and your furry friend’s tail can also be a clue that something is wrong. When dogs are in some kind of pain, they keep their tails between their legs or sagging a bit. Another indication could be your Fido’s eyes, in which case you might notice bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils.

Can You Give Your Dog Pain Medication?

This is the question that most pet parents will ask at some point or the other. The first important mention that we have to make in this respect is that you should first ask your vet about which type of medications are safe to give to your companion and which ones you should steer clear of. Do not give your dog any pain relief drug if you haven’t asked a veterinarian about its effects, because the substances might not be safe for the animal or dogs in general and as a species could actually have a particular sensitivity to that medication.

So, our advice to you is to seek out the advice of a professional either when you’ve noticed signs of pain or when you take him or her to a regular checkup. It is always a good idea to do a bit of research even from when your dog is young because, in this way, you’ll know what to do in the event of an emergency or when your pet is in pain due to old age.

Human Painkillers

It can be extremely tempting for a pet parent to want to give their Fido over-the-counter painkillers designed for people, and that’s because they might believe that they couldn’t do any harm. After all, if they work for us, why wouldn’t they do the same for our beloved canine friends?

The truth is that over-the-counter pain drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be very dangerous when administered to pets. There are several types of medications ‘related’ to both of these substances, but they are specifically made for dogs. For example, there’s ketoprofen for veterinary use, and this type of drug can do wonders for both short-term (post-surgery) and long-term treatment of joint pain in dogs. However, the dosage is what matters most when you’re looking to alleviate your pet’s pain at home.

The dosage can make it or break it, and there have been multiple cases where dogs have had to be treated for ibuprofen poisoning. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories) can cause a variety of issues from intestinal problems to vomiting, diarrhea, and even kidney or liver dysfunction or failure. Some common over-the-counter NSAIDs for humans are aspirin and ibuprofen.

Corticosteroids, although they aren’t typically sold as over-the-counter medications, such as dexamethasone, for example, have a broad range of side effects, both short-term and long-term. Some of the adverse effects they can cause can vary from diabetes, gastrointestinal ulcers, insulin resistance, and seizures, to osteoporosis. They also weaken the immune system a lot, which means that your pet might become vulnerable to infections. As if the pain weren’t enough, you’d have to treat your dog for an infection, too.

What about Tylenol?

The substance in Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be very dangerous, too. Sure, a small dose might not cause any damage whatsoever, but if your dog ingests a too high amount, it can be toxic and can even lead to irreversible damage to the kidneys and liver. Cats are extremely sensitive to Tylenol, too, and in their case, a single tablet can lead to death.

Over-the-counter medications to be used with caution

There are several types of medications that you could give to your dog if you know the exact dosage and you don’t plan on using them for more than a couple of days. Dramamine is an antiemetic and antihistamine that can be recommended by your vet if your dog suffers from motion sickness. However, it has side effects such as lethargy, urine retention, and a dry mouth.

Novox is an NSAID that is formulated specifically for dogs, and it can be prescribed to treat arthritis and its symptoms. Since it is made for our canine friends, it is significantly safer to use, but again, you should always give your Fido the right dose to avoid any of the adverse effects, which could range from vomiting and diarrhea to loss of appetite or jaundice.

Tramadol is used for pain relief both in humans and in dogs. It can be prescribed for acute (and severe pain), and it is extremely powerful and effective. Some of its side effects range from anxiety, tremors, and respiration issues to constipation or nausea.

Some of the safest medications that a vet could prescribe range from carprofen and deracoxib to meloxicam.

Natural Remedies

There are some natural remedies that you can use to help relieve your dog’s pain, but they mostly have an effect when they are used in the long term. Combinations of glucosamine, chondroitin, and type II collagen have been shown to have beneficial effects in the treatment of arthritis. Needless to say, arthritis is a degenerative disease that can’t be treated per se, but its symptoms can be alleviated significantly when these three substances are used.

Best of all, chondroitin, glucosamine, and type II collagen have little to no side effects – as long as you respect the dosage, of course. They can be found in several supplements, along with turmeric and fish oils, which also provide some relief, especially for arthritis pain.

Better safe than sorry

Human painkillers can be toxic to dogs, and it’s a better idea to steer clear of them than to have to take your pooch to the vet because he or she is suffering from poisoning. There are several human medications that you could use in some situations, but always ask your vet about the right dosage and be wary of ibuprofen, aspirin, and paracetamol.

If your dog has undergone surgery or treatment for any kind of trauma, ask your vet for a prescription for painkillers for veterinary use.



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