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What Can I Give My Dog For Pain Relief?

Excited beagle waiting to get what their owner has in their hand

Signs a dog is in pain

Many people wonder if my dog is in pain.  Signs to look for when a dog is in pain include excessive panting, whining, lack of appetite, constant pacing, limping, and lethargy. If any of these signs are observed talk to your dog’s veterinarian and see if the cause of the problem is actually pain or some other medical condition.  Before giving any over the counter human pain medicine or supplement, ask your veterinarian what is a safe dosage to give.

What you should not use

Human pain medications are commonly used on a daily basis. Human NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) should never be used to treat dogs for pain, because the canine metabolism differs greatly from that of humans, and the use of most human prescription or over-the-counter NSAIDs can affect the liver and kidneys of your dog and can even be fatal.


Sad white lab sitting on a blanket in a park

What are they?

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are pain medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation without the use of steroids. They were developed because the use of steroids long term can cause unwanted side-effects in humans such as kidney or liver disease. For humans, NSAIDs can be used to reduce fever and pain, prevent blood clots, and in higher doses reduce inflammation. Although, even long-term use in human medicine can create unwanted side-effects.

Different types

NSAIDs can come in a variety of brands and formulas depending on what ailment is being treated. They include drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin), Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and Celecoxib (Celebrex). The use of any of these medications is not recommended and could result in severe and even fatal side-effects.


Black lab laying in the grass on a nice day

Side-effects is a word that basically means, contradicting disease or symptoms that may occur while treating another symptom. In dogs, common side-effects can include but not limited to vomiting, bloody stool, stomach ulcers, kidney disease, kidney failure, liver disease with failure, and death. If a dog has been given an NSAID and any of these symptoms occur, immediate veterinary attention is recommended.

Never Tylenol

Tylenol (Acetaminophen) is extremely toxic (poisonous) to dogs and cats. The compound Acetaminophen is absorbed very quickly (usually within 30 minutes) and is broken down within the liver from where it is turned into a different compound that is toxic and cannot be metabolized by dogs. Once it is converted it attacks red blood cells inhibiting them from carrying proper amounts of oxygen to the vital organs. Furthermore, the lack of oxygen to these organs then begins a cascade of events such as liver failure, difficulty, and rapid breathing, brown urine, blue gums, and ultimately death. These symptoms can sometimes be reversed if immediate veterinary treatment is given.

Doggie Pain Meds (over-the-counter)

Sad looking beagle on a leash laying in the grass in a field

There are not really over-the-counter pain medications that are great to give your dog, and for safety reasons, any pain medications given should be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. There are other many other options besides NSAIDs though that are safe to give your dog.

Different options

Drugs that are safer for dogs include Carprofen, Deracoxib, Firocoxib, and Meloxicam. These drugs are safer for dogs and should only be given in doses recommended by a licensed veterinarian. Although they are considered “safer” for canine use, the misuse or improper dosing of these medications can still result in the same dangerous and potentially fatal side-effects as NSAIDs.

Most of the above medications can also come in different forms. Carprofen, for example, may come in pill form but can also be made into a chewable tablet that might be more palatable for dogs. Meloxicam comes in a liquid form making it easier to hide in food or a treat. Ask the prescribing veterinarian for an option that may suit your dog best.


Wiry haired dog squinting and panting while on a walk

Some of the downsides to any pain medication is that none of them should be used long term. Since most of these medications are broken down by the liver and filtered through the kidneys, a build-up of toxic doses can occur leading to both kidney and liver disease.  The cost can also become a factor especially for larger breed dogs that require a much higher dose to be effective.

What is Safe?

When it comes to safety using only medications prescribed by a veterinarian in conjunction with regular check-ups is always the best option. Veterinarians are able to run specific tests to help monitor the state of blood and of course kidney and liver functions. If the test shows any parameters out of balance, then a veterinarian can make the proper changes to medications or dosages to keep unwanted side-effects to a minimum.

Holistic options

Golden french bulldog looking into the distance with a black background

CBD Oil For Dogs

CBD or Cannabidiol is making recent news in veterinary medicine. Colorado State University Veterinary School has published studies showing the benefits of CBD oil in reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis. All mammals, human and animal, have an endocannibal system which is responsible for homeostasis. CBD acts on this system helping decrease pain and inflammation. Unlike what many people believe, CBD does not contain THC. THC is the compound that is responsible for the euphoric effect of marijuana. Studies show that CBD oil has little to no side effect even over long periods of time. This makes CBD a great holistic option especially for those pets with chronic pain or other medical conditions that prevent them from taking NSAIDS.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil For Dogs

Natural Doggie Organic Full Spectrum CBD Oil



Tumeric is a common spice used in cooking and can help decrease the pain and inflammation present in the body. There have been studies performed showing that turmeric was a better pain medication than traditional NSAIDs. Since this is a naturally occurring spice there is little to no side effect.

Advanced Mobility Chews With Turmeric




Omega 3 has been shown to have beneficial effects on joint pain. Not only do Omegas help with joint pain but also help with skin and coat. So, you can treat two different conditions with one product.

Omega 3-6-9 Chews for dogs


From $24.99

Other Natural Remedies

Glucosamine and chondroitin have also been shown to help decrease joint inflammation and are a very safe option to try on your pets. The only side effect noticed in these medications is diarrhea if the dosage is a little too high.

Many people are very cautious about the medication that their pets taking. If your dog becomes painful reaching for a more holistic medication such as CBD oil first is a great choice.  Sometimes a combination of holistic and NSAIDs are used to treat pain to help decrease the dosage needed of the NSAIDs and lessen the unwanted side effects. It is always best to seek the advice of your veterinarian before starting your pet on any over the counter or holistic supplement.

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