No one wants to see a dog suffer. Seeing your dog limp or hearing her whine is enough to break your heart.
When you see your dog in pain, you want to do something to help. But what can you give a dog for pain that won’t cause unintended health problems?
Before you grab something from your medicine cabinet, take some time to learn about what you pain medications you can and cannot give a dog safely.
Is Ibuprofen Safe for Stopping Dog Pain?
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that prevents pain by reducing inflammation in the body. Companies sell ibuprofen under the brand names Advil, Nuprin, and Motrin.
How Much Ibuprofen Can I Give My Dog?
Veterinarians often prescribe NSAIDs to stop pain in animals. Your dog’s vet, however, has the training to determine safe, effective doses.
Without the proper training, you cannot determine the correct dose of ibuprofen for your dog.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that you can adjust human doses for your dog’s size. Most adult humans can take up to 400 mg of ibuprofen every 4 to 6 hours. Just because a 150-pound human can take 400 mg does not mean that a 25-pound dog can take 70 mg of ibuprofen.
Ibuprofen can provide safe pain relief for your dog, but you need to talk to your veterinarian, first. The vet can diagnose your dog and determine a safe dosage.
What Are the Side Effects of Ibuprofen for Dogs?
How much risk do you run by giving ibuprofen to your dog?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased energy
as common side effects.
In some cases, though, dogs can get very sick from taking ibuprofen. They can even reduce blood flow to crucial organs. Some dogs that take ibuprofen experience kidney damage or kidney failure. Even an otherwise healthy dog could suffer from kidney complications after taking an incorrect dose of ibuprofen.
Ibuprofen can also cause liver toxicity. Most cases of liver toxicity come from dogs that chew open bottles and consume large amounts of ibuprofen. Doctors call this dose-dependent toxicity because the liver problems come from the amount of drug consumed by the dog.
Some dogs also experience dose-independent toxicity. For these unlikely pets, a small amount of ibuprofen can contribute to liver disease.
Warning: Know Your Dog’s Health History!
Always talk to your vet before giving a dog ibuprofen. Make sure your veterinarian knows about any history of liver or kidney problems in your dog. Dogs with unhealthy livers or kidneys should never take ibuprofen!
Can I Give My Dog Aspirin for Pain?
Aspirin is another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that blocks certain chemicals that cause swelling. As an NSAID, you can expect it to cause many of the same problems as ibuprofen. In fact, aspirin’s list of potential side effects in dogs is even longer than ibuprofen.
What Are the Side Effects of Aspirin for Dogs
The American Kennel Club’s list of potential side effects for aspirin include:
- Mucosal erosion (stomach lining damage)
- Black, tarry stool
If your dog consumes enough aspirin to overdose, it could experience:
Keep your aspirin and other NSAIDs in a medicine cabinet that your dog cannot access. Childproof lids might prevent children (and plenty of adults) from opening bottles, but they can’t stop the teeth of a persistent dog.
How Much Aspirin Can I Give My Dog?
The best advice is to talk to your veterinarian about choosing the right aspirin dose to prevent pain in your dog.
The Merck Veterinary Manual says that you should not exceed 40 mg per your dog’s weight in kg per day. In other words, a 25-pound dog (11 kg) should not take more than 440 mg throughout the day. In fact, the manual encourages lower doses. Ideally, you shouldn’t go above 10 mg/kg.
Don’t assume that you can take advice from the Merck Veterinary Manual. Although it’s an authoritative source consulted by most veterinarians, it can only provide general information. It doesn’t know anything about your dog’s unique health conditions.
To get a dosage recommended specifically for your dog, you must see your vet.
Is Tylenol Safe for Dogs in Pain?
Tylenol is not an NSAID, so it’s probably a safer option for treating dog pain. At the same time, you need to pay attention to how much Tylenol you give your dog. Too much can cause serious problems like:
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Tissue damage
When choosing Tylenol, take the same precautions as you would when giving your dog aspirin or ibuprofen. In other words: call your veterinarian!
Does CBD Oil Stop Dog Pain?
CBD oil is everywhere these days. You can find it in natural food stores. Your local coffee house may even offer to add a few drops of CBD oil to your drink.
Research shows that CBD oil offers numerous benefits to humans. Unfortunately, no one has spent the time or money studying CBD’s effects on dogs. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that CBD may help prevent neuropathic pain in dogs.
What Types of Pain Can CBD Treat in Dogs?
If your dog ran face-first into a tree or scrape its leg while exploring a rocky area (hey, these things happen), CBD oil won’t do anything for the pain.
CBD may, however, help with pain caused by chronic health conditions like arthritis.
Although no one has studied the effects of CBD oil on dogs, researchers know that CBD can ease arthritis pain in humans. CBD likely eases arthritis pain by decreasing swelling in the joints. It may also help prevent further nerve damage that could make pain worse in the future.
How Much CBD Should I Give My Dog?
Unfortunately, that’s a question that no one can answer with any confidence. There are a lot of complicating factors. For example, no one controls the level of purity in CBD products. CBD is treated as a supplement rather than a drug, so there isn’t much oversight.
Secondly, CBD seems to affect animals in different ways. A dose that reduces arthritis pain in one dog might not do anything for a different dog that weighs the same.
The fact is that we still have a lot to learn about CBD.
If you plan to give CBD oil or treats to your dog, start with a low dose. If you don’t see any results, increase the dose. Luckily, CBD is a non-toxic substance. It’s unlikely that your dog would get anything worse than an upset stomach even if she consumed an entire bottle of CBD oil.
Prescription Medications for Dogs in Pain
Before you give your dog any pain relievers, you need to visit your vet. While you’re at the vet’s office, you might as well ask about prescription medication for dogs in pain.
The type of drug that your vet prescribes should depend on the source of your dog’s pain.
If your dog lives with neuropathic pain caused by health events like strokes and spinal cord injuries, your vet may prescribe gabapentin to keep discomfort under control.
Scientists don’t know how gabapentin prevents pain caused by neuropathic disorders. The latest research suggests that the prescription drug blocks a receptor in the brain and stops the brain from experiencing pain signals sent from damaged nerves.
Amantadine is an antiviral medication, but many veterinarians use it to treat chronic pain, too. Like gabapentin, the drug blocks nerve pathways that send pain signals between the brain and the body.
In some cases, veterinarians prescribe amantadine in combination with gabapentin.
Tramadol prevents pain by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors. Veterinarians usually prescribe it to treat chronic pain. It’s often seen as a last result because it has a bitter taste and can cause side effects like agitation, tremors, and anxiety. When gabapentin and amantadine don’t work, though, it’s a useful option for preventing chronic pain in dogs and other animals.
Natural Alternatives to Dog Pain Medications
Perhaps you don’t want to give your dog any medication, or you’ve had bad experiences with side effects caused by pain meds. If you want to avoid drugs, then you could try some natural alternatives to dog pain medications.
Dog Massage for Pain Relief
You know how good a massage can feel? Many dogs love massages just as much as people do.
The American Kennel Club recommends dog massages to:
- Increase circulation to joints and muscles in dogs with arthritis.
- Prepare your dog’s muscles before strenuous activity.
- Decrease stiffness and pain caused by overexertion and age.
Follow these tips from the American Kennel Club to give your dog a relaxing massage that reduces common types of pain.
Exercise for Joint Lubrication and Improved Health
Unless your dog has an illness that prevents regular exercise, you should make sure that your pet gets to enjoy daily activity.
Daily walks can help keep joints lubricated and loose, which reduces the pain caused by arthritis.
Exercise will also help your dog maintain a healthy weight. Overweight and obese dogs have higher risks of developing health problems that can cause pain. By keeping your dog slim, you lower the risk of problems like arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.
Acupuncture and Acupressure for Treating Dog Pain
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health points to several studies that show acupuncture and acupressure can help manage some types of pain.
Not surprisingly, plenty of people want to apply this research to dogs and other animals.
Keep in mind that no one has performed a comprehensive study to determine whether acupuncture or acupressure can treat pain in dogs.
If you don’t want to give your dog drugs, though, you should talk to a local acupuncturist about treating dogs. The worst thing that will happen is you waste money on a treatment that doesn’t work. The best case scenario is that you find a non-drug approach to pain maintenance.
Supplements to Lessen Dog Pain
The supplement industry makes a lot of claims about how its products can prevent illnesses. For example, some people give their dogs joint supplements like glucosamine because they believe it will prevent lessen the chronic pain caused by arthritis.
Even if you believe the research that supports using supplements to lessen dog pain, you can’t trust every product on the market. The lack of government oversight means that some companies sell fraudulent supplements. If they can get away with selling fakes to humans, you know that they don’t have problems doing the same to dogs.
Your vet may know more about the companies that sell reliable dog supplements. A vet familiar with your dog’s medical history should also know which supplements will target your dog’s problems best.
Keep Vet Bills Under Control With Pet Insurance
No matter how you choose to treat your dog’s pain, you will need to visit your veterinarian’s office for advice. You may also need to purchase prescription medication.
Don’t let high vet bills prevent you from helping your dog. Pet insurance can keep vet bills under control.
Your dog deserves good healthcare. You deserve affordable ways to keep your dog healthy.
Start by exploring pet insurance quotes that fit into your budget. A little research could help you find a pet insurance plan that keeps your dog healthy without forcing you to spend more money that you can afford!