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Are There Pain Meds for Dogs?

pain meds for dogs

When our dog is in pain, it hurts us too. We want to ensure that our furry friend is in good health and pain-free. While we are able to rummage through the medicine cabinet or visit our local drugstore, it’s not quite as simple knowing what our dog can take and what drugs may be harmful.

Here are a few answers to, “Are there pain meds for dogs?”

First Things First

With any unknown pain, it is a good idea to see the vet. While you may not know what is causing your dog’s pain, the vet is better equipped to do just that. They can run tests or in some cases, have an idea of what is wrong after a normal examination.

While not everyone can afford to visit the vet, there are resources that help in time of need, such as pet insurance. This ensures that if you have an emergency vet visit, you can minimize the costs.

What OTC Drugs Are Safe for Dogs?

You may wonder what kind of over-the-counter drugs are safe for your dog. Here are a few things you can use on a short-term basis.

Allergy Medications

If your dog is suffering from allergies, there are a few choices that are relatively safe. Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec are meant to minimize allergic reactions and relieve allergy symptoms. Keep in mind that these may cause drowsiness in your pet, or in some cases, hyperactivity.

It is important to note that you should never use an allergy medication that has a decongestant.

Dosage is twice a day to use 1 mg per pound of weight.

Gastrointestinal Medications

Another type of relatively safe medication that can be bought over the counter is gastrointestinal medication.

If your dog has diarrhea, it is okay to use Imodium for 24 hours. If diarrhea persists after that time period, it’s time for a call to the vet.

Dosage is 1 teaspoon every 4–6 hours per 20 lbs of weight. This should be done for 24 hours.

DO NOT give Imodium to Collie-related breeds. This includes Australian Shepherds, Collies, Long-Haired Whippets, and Shelties.

For an upset stomach, Pepto Bismol is safe on a temporary basis. This helps curb vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach distress.

Dosage is 1 teaspoon per 20 lbs of weight, every 4–6 hours for 24 hours.

Call the vet if your dog vomits up their Pepto Bismol.

According to Canine Journal:

Pepcid-AC (Famotidine), Tagamet (Cimetidine) and Zantac (Ranitidine) are common OTC medications to treat or prevent heartburn and stomach ulcer-related symptoms. They’re generally effective and safe for dogs (and cats). You can administer the correct dosage once or twice a day.

It’s okay to use them for periodic dietary indiscretions, e.g. if your dog gets into a bag of chips or slurps up the rest of your salsa. See your vet to rule out other problems if your dog’s stomach woes persist.


  • 1/4 tablet for dogs less than 20 lbs
  • 1/2 tablet for dogs 20–60 lbs
  • 1 whole tablet for dogs over 60 lbs

What Kind of Medications Does the Vet Prescribe?

A veterinarian is able to prescribe safe medications for your pup. Here are a few that are not found over the counter but can be prescribed by the vet.


This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is formulated for dogs. Veterinarians often prescribe this drug to treat the pain of arthritis.


This is a pain relief medication that is also prescribed for humans. But it is not for long-term use. There are side effects for withdrawal, so use sparingly according to the vet’s recommendations.


This drug is used for older dogs usually. It helps relieve chronic pain, seizures, and neuropathic pain.

What Medications Should Never Be Used for Dogs?

According to Honest Paws, there are a few medications you should never give to your canine buddy.

  • Ibuprofen – found in Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin
  • Acetaminophen – found in Tylenol and many decongestants
  • Naproxen – found in Aleve

Just because humans can take some kinds of medicine does not mean they’re safe for dogs, too.

What About Holistic Medicines?

Holistic medicines are always an alternative that can be safe and effective. This in no way means to skip the vet visit. But when it’s late at night and you want to help your pet safely, here are a few to consider until you can call a professional.

  • Feverfew is a treatment for inflammation. It’s a good treatment for arthritis and safe for pets.
  • Turmeric is another anti-inflammatory that has benefits that match cortisone – with no side effects like cortisone.
  • Comfrey is ideal for joint injury pain and helps heal by speeding up the reproduction of cells.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin help treat arthritis and joint pain in dogs. Some research has found that they may make swelling go down and help cartilage repair itself. They also may help protect and lubricate existing cartilage.

There are other natural ingredients that are anti-inflammatory including:

  • Cayenne
  • Horsetail
  • Skullcap
  • Devil’s claw
  • Ginger
  • Licorice
  • Yucca
  • Boswellia

While you cannot always plan for an emergency, it can’t hurt to have a few anti-inflammatory natural ingredients on-hand until you can see the vet. These are good for when it’s late night, a holiday, or weekend when the vet may be closed except for emergencies. And we all know that emergency visits are even more costly.

Hopefully these natural medicines can help temporarily until you can take your furry friend to the vet. There, you can find out exactly why your pet is in pain and what kinds of medicines are recommended.

With a veterinarian recommendation, you can access prescription pain medicine for dogs that can safely and effectively relieve your pet’s pain and discomfort. With a prescription, you can choose from brands like Carprofen, Etodolac and Meloxicam.

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