As a pet parent, it hurts to see your dog in pain. You give them all the love and comfort they need, and you might even be willing to try anything if it will help take your dog’s pain away. As a responsible pet parent, however, you must adequately educate yourself on what pain-relief options are safe for dogs and which ones you should stay away from.
The good news is that you can do something to give Fido pain relief. Remember to always consult your vet before giving your furry pal any medication or form of treatment - for your dog’s healthy safety, always err on the side of caution.
Recognizing pain in dogs
If your dog recently underwent surgery or has been diagnosed with a joint problem such as arthritis, your vet will prescribe the appropriate medication. There may be other causes of dog pain which you would probably be completely unaware of until after Fido shows signs of distress; these may include injury, infection in the ear or stomach, an upset stomach, or a disease such as cancer.
If you know your best bud well enough, you’ll be able to recognize if something is off and if he’s experiencing discomfort, distress, or pain - even if he’s trying not to show it. Below are the signs you should watch out for.
- Decreased energy level based on Fido’s normal energy level
- Loss of appetite
- No interest in playing
- Refusal to walk, jump, or climb stairs
- Nipping and biting when they are touched; irritability
- Constant howling, groaning, whimpering, whining, and yelping
- Sleeping too much
- Any noticeable swelling or inflammation
- Sagging tail or tail-in-between-the-legs
- Bloodshot, loopy-looking, or sick eyes; dilated pupils
If Fido shows any of the above symptoms, chances are high that he’s experiencing some degree of distress or pain and should be seen by a vet so he can get proper treatment. If he has already been suffering from chronic pain and you’re more than familiar with his symptoms, you may be tempted to try giving him an over-the-counter human pain medication. OTC painkillers can be toxic to dogs, however.
What you should NOT give your dog for pain relief
To be on the safe side, do not give Fido any over-the-counter or prescription human pain medications unless prescribed by your vet. Do not treat your best bud’s pain with any of the following:
- Ibuprofen, such as Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin, is toxic to dogs and can cause stomach ulceration, kidney damage, seizures, and coma.
- Aleve, such as Naproxen, is also toxic even at low doses and should only be given if prescribed by a vet.
- Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, can cause damage to the gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver and should only be given with the supervision of a vet.
- Aspirin or baby aspirin, unless prescribed by your vet.
No matter how tempting it might be because you don’t want to see Fido suffer, do not give him even a single or a few doses of any of the above human medications for pain management, and especially for long-term or chronic pain. Always consult your vet first, or you may end up making your dog’s condition worse and causing serious and long-term complications, even death.
When your vet does prescribe a pain medication, strictly follow the recommended dosage to avoid toxicity. And find out what side effects you should expect and which ones you need to watch for and will require emergency medical attention.
What about natural remedies?
All hope is not lost because there are holistic options you can try to give Fido some pain relief.
- CBD oil can be one of nature’s most effective solutions for pain; ask your vet about the proper dosage and if it's a viable solution for your pup.
- Fish oil may also offer some pain relief, particularly for dogs with osteoarthritis.
- Feverfew is an effective anti-inflammatory.
- Comfrey is a natural supplement that has been found to provide pain relief from joint injury, but should only be given in minimal doses and with vet supervision. Large doses can cause liver problems.
- Boswellia or frankincense contains phytochemicals that fight inflammation, particularly that which is associated with arthritis.
- Licorice is another popular anti-inflammatory remedy for arthritic pain. Do not give this to a diabetic, pregnant, or nursing dog; and do not use it continuously for more than two weeks.
- Devil’s Claw is an effective natural remedy for muscle pain and arthritis pain. Do not give this to a diabetic, pregnant, or nursing dog, or if your dog is taking other medications.
- Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to help older dogs with arthritis improve their mobility. Take note that ginger has a blood-sugar and blood-pressure lowering effect, as well as a blood-thinning effect, so it should not be given to a dog who is taking coagulants or will be undergoing surgery.
- Horsetail contains bioactive silicon which facilitates faster healing of bone and connective tissue injuries. This should not be given to a dog who is lactating or has cardiac disease or hypertension.
- Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Cayenne contains capsaicin, which is an effective pain reliever whether applied topically or ingested as a gel capsule. Avoid giving this to your dog if he has a sensitive digestive system.
Remember that even though these are natural remedies, they may still cause some harmful side effects, so seeking your vet’s advice should always be your other top priority - in addition to relieving your beloved fur kid some relief from his pain.
Giving the correct dosage also applies to natural medicines, especially for management of long-term or chronic pain. As herbal remedies are typically formulated for humans, make sure to adjust the dosage accordingly for your dog’s weight. When in doubt, always consult your vet or a holistic expert.
If Fido is taking other meds, a natural pain remedy may react adversely with them so call your vet before giving it a try.
Giving your dog pain relief: Final Thoughts
No pet parent wants to see their fur kid suffer. Taking your dog to a vet to find out the cause of his pain and so that he can be prescribed the appropriate course of treatment should always be your first step.
Your vet may also prescribe pain medication that is specially formulated for dog pain management. Pain meds for dogs include carprofen, deracoxib, firocoxib, and meloxicam. Again, always ask about the potential side effects.
If you opt for a holistic approach, it is still always best to work with your vet so you can be sure about the correct dosage to give. And no matter how much you want to stop your dog from hurting, never give him any human painkillers without the advice of a vet.