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Anti Inflammatory For Dogs: How Nature Can Heal

Black Lab laying on a deck with its nose between its paws

How many times have we heard our doctor say “that’s inflamed” or “I am going to give you an anti-inflammatory for that.” What is inflammation, really? Inflammation is actually a very important process that helps protect our body against injury and disease this is true in dogs as well. Unfortunately, though, inflammation can become chronic and then certain diseases can develop. Then there are anti-inflammatory treatments intended to reduce inflammation and swelling in the body. That’s to put it in a nutshell.

Inflammatory Medication for Dogs

Old Black Lab Looking Into The Distance

When it comes to drugs which fight inflammation, you get what is known as NSAIDs; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These alleviate the pain you have with your inflammation. So when you buy medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen, you are buying NSAIDs. Then you also get analgesics; these are associated with anti-inflammatory drugs but they don’t have anti-inflammatory effects. NSAIDs will reduce pain and the inflammation, whereas analgesics essentially deal with pain, having only a minimal effect on inflammation. Examples of analgesics are Tylenol for instance. Sometimes however you will get a tablet which combines both NSAIDs and analgesics to enhance the pain effects of the NSAID.

When it comes to animals, it can be pretty confusing because how do you know your dog is in pain or has inflammation? Fortunately, there are vets to answer that – a vet is the first place to run to when your animals are showing any signs of pain, stress, or inflammation in their bodies.

In saying that, there are actually two types of anti-inflammatories for dogs.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids.

Both of these are used to treat levels of inflammation in a dog. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, are often used for when a dog has acute problems. Corticosteroids are more used for chronic, systemic illnesses. That sounds like there’s a difference between corticosteroids and NSAIDs, doesn’t it? Well, you would be 100% right. But that’s going to take a long time to explain it, so check out two links here – it’s important. It’s also important to note, however, that you can’t give your dogs or cats human NSAIDs! It’s simply because our entire metabolic systems, etc. are different to dogs and cats which makes it extremely risky to give them human NSAIDs which can metabolize faster in animals, reach higher concentrations in their blood, or cause severe organ failure, etc. To put it bluntly, they can be lethal for pets.

When to Use Anti-Inflammatories for Dogs

Red Beagle in a harness looking at their owner

Usually, a vet will prescribe an anti-inflammatory for a dog and cat who could be suffering from an array of diseases. But with so many uses for anti-inflammatory drugs, here is a list of what the most common uses for dogs are:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories

The NSAIDs will often be used to treat conditions such as arthritis in your dog which can be chronic or acute. A dog with arthritis will suffer from pain and inflammation. You probably have seen arthritic dogs limping on their weight-bearing leg. Sometimes the vet will choose to use a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory for dogs because they suffer from acute soft tissue inflammation, and with an NSAID, there are pain benefits in it as well.

  • Corticosteroids: anti-inflammatories

The corticosteroids can treat a variety of conditions. But generally speaking, corticosteroids are used to treat severe allergies in your dogs such as dermatitis and a lot of skin diseases, Corticosteroids are also used for immunosuppression for autoimmune diseases. Addison’s disease or Cushing’s disease would also be treated with corticosteroids. Read here exactly how non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for dogs work.

Are there Side Effects to Using NSAIDs?

Red Beagle laying on the floor needing an anti inflammatory
  • Thinning of skin
  • Lethargy
  • Increased risk of ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Iron-deficiency anemia due to blood loss
  • Gastrointestinal tract ulcers
  • Melena
  • Colic (stomach pain)
  • Colon ulcers
  • Liver dysfunction

Doesn’t it make sense that it is far better to choose a fresh and healthy anti-inflammatory diet for your dog instead? Of course! Here are some outstanding natural anti-inflammatory foods and supplements which you can add to your dog’s diet and which come highly recommended. These are:

If your dog suffers from hip dysplasia, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, all caused by chronic inflammation, these natural alternatives will literally do marvels. Inflammation in a dog can be acute and sometimes disappear in a few weeks with treatment or it can be chronic, which means it can cause a lot of other more serious health problems as mentioned above. It is actually wonderful when your vet suggests a more natural approach to treating your dog’s inflammation, like fish oil, glucosamine, and so on.

Some More Natural Anti-Inflammatories for Dogs

Multi colored dog playing with a toy on the ground

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are two natural compounds that have become very popular among pet owners and vets themselves. You find glucosamine naturally in cartilage – the shells of shellfish are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. You can find it in supplement form; used commonly to treat arthritis and to help relieve inflammation and pain in the joints. Your dog can take glucosamine and chondroitin to build up as well as repair tissue such as cartilage which protects his joints.

Fish oil and phytoplankton

Fish oil is a very well-known supplement because it has such high concentrations of omega-3 fats. These fats are well known to fight inflammation, making them a popular choice for treating chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and others. If you prefer though, as a pet owner, you get phytoplankton supplements for dogs. Phytoplankton is believed to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to help dogs with diabetes, arthritis, and allergies.


Yucca is a plant growing naturally in the subtropical climates of Central and South America. It has a similar appearance to the yam; found to be highly efficient at improving skin health, boosting immunity, and easing inflammation. Yucca tablets and supplements have become very popular for treating arthritic inflammatory conditions


CBD oil today has been labeled as one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories in Nature today. If your dog is battling with chronic arthritis pain or inflammatory bowel disease, CBD offers long-lasting relief. It is also fantastic for cancer in dogs.

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It goes without saying that a dog’s diet needs to be healthy and he needs plenty of exercise and attention, period.

Why would you choose a natural anti-inflammatory over prescription medication?

There isn’t anything wrong with giving your dog anti-inflammatory drugs to help his or her body recover from nasty cases of acute inflammation. But as all NSAIDs are processed by the kidneys and liver, it means they can cause problems to these areas, and this is where natural anti-inflammatories come into play.

Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.

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