When your dog is in pain, you want to do whatever you can to help them feel better fast. But knowing what to give your dog when they’re struggling is a little more complicated than reaching for a painkiller when you have a headache. Dogs can take NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for pain relief, but some are dangerous for them.
What Can I Give My Dog With Pain?
You should always consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog is in pain. Dogs are notorious for hiding pain since, in the wild, showing pain was a dangerous sign of vulnerability or weakness. Some signs your dog might be in pain could be:
- They seem anti-social, agitated, or depressed. A dog who’s pacing, restless, or doesn’t want to be touched may be in pain. Any changes in behavior, like not greeting you at the door, not being interested in food, or seeming grumpy or aggressive, may be cause for concern.
- They may be barking, growling, whining, or making more noise to try to alert you that something is wrong.
- Excessive grooming may also be a warning sign that your dog is suffering from pain since a dog’s first instinct is to try to soothe a wounded area (even an internal wound) by licking it.
- Stiffness or limping in dogs may be signs that your dog is injured or suffering from a condition that causes them pain.
- Breathing changes, like heavy panting without an apparent cause, or having an elevated heart rate, are two warning signs that your dog may be in pain.
A veterinarian will be able to examine your dog with pain and address the problem, while also prescribing a painkiller to help them cope. Any pain meds for dogs should always be given under the consultation of a veterinarian.
What Can You Give a Dog for Pain Relief Over the Counter?
Sometimes your veterinarian may advise giving your dog certain over-the-counter medications made for pain relief in humans. Human-grade aspirin or baby aspirin for dogs is an option for pain relief that’s mostly safe for dogs to take in small doses for a limited time. If given too long or too high doses, it can cause stomach bleeding, ulcers, and internal damage.
How Much Aspirin Can I Give My Dog With Pain?
Your veterinarian will be able to give you an exact answer if they approve aspirin as an option to give your dog for pain relief. Some veterinarians have recommended 5-10 mg of aspirin per your dog’s weight, given every 12 hours. However, it’s important not to guesstimate how much to give your dog – just two regular strength aspirin can be fatal for a medium-sized dog.
Veterinarians often suggest giving a dog aspirin along with food for sensitive stomach, to protect against stomach disorders. Dogs have a difficult time digesting coated aspirin, and it may not be effective for them. Certain pet care brands, like Licks, offer human-grade aspirin in gel form flavored with chicken. While this aspirin still carries the same risk of side effects, the flavoring avoids the risk of your dog spitting out a pill and not absorbing the medication.
Anti-Inflammatory for Dogs Warning Signs
The mnemonic device “BEST” is an excellent way to keep an eye on your dog taking NSAIDs for pain relief. BEST stands for:
Skin redness or Scabs
If your dog with pain is having any of these symptoms while taking aspirin or another NSAID, you should immediately call your vet and stop giving them the painkiller.
Ibuprofen for Dogs
If dogs can take aspirin, can dogs take Tylenol, ibuprofen, or any other over-the-counter pain medication? The answer is a firm no. Medicines that contain any ibuprofen, like Motrin, Advil, or Midol, are toxic to dogs. As little as half a 200 mg pill of ibuprofen can cause kidney or liver failure as well as other fatal conditions in your dog.
Additionally, Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Aleve (naproxen) are both toxic to dogs and should never be administered.
What Can You Give a Dog for Pain Relief? Other Options
Some pet stores offer alternative pain relief for dogs in pill or liquid form over the counter. Vet’s Best Aches + Pains Dog Supplement uses a combination of glucosamine, bromelain, and white willow bark to treat pain and inflammation in sore muscles and joints, particularly in older dogs. Meloxidyl is another pain relief option in suspension form that helps dogs suffering from osteoarthritis.
Your vet may prescribe an NSAID that is specially formulated for dogs. Carprofen caplets are a common alternative to giving dogs aspirin, and one that comes with much less risk to your pet. Only about 1% of dogs experience side effects when taking carprofen for pain relief. Carprofen or any other prescription painkiller pill can be concealed inside a Pill Pocket dog treat, to get your dog to take them without noticing the medicine.
Additionally, CBD oil is gaining popularity as a homeopathic remedy for canine pain relief and for calming down anxious dog. While no formal studies have been conducted yet, anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil can help dogs suffering from pain, seizures, anxiety, or inflammation. Additionally, because CBD oil is all-natural, it doesn’t have the risk of dangerous side effects like many NSAIDs do. CBD oil is usually derived from hemp, and so generally contains little to no psychoactive THC.
When your dog is in pain, it’s tempting to do whatever you can to fix it as soon as possible. But remember that dogs can have adverse reactions to many painkillers, and it’s always best to ask your veterinarian what can you give a dog with pain, instead of just reaching for the medicine cabinet. Human painkillers with ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen can never be given to dogs, although sometimes aspirin can be. A veterinarian can help you figure out if a prescription painkiller, aspirin, alternative wellness drops and supplements, natural pain products or homeopathic remedy like CBD oil is best for your dog.