When your canine fur baby is in pain, nothing can be worse. It’s so hard to see him in pain that you want to do anything to relieve it. We understand. However, even if you feel it’s necessary to give him some pain relief medication, remember that human pain relievers are toxic to dogs. They can cause serious health issues or even death.
In this article, we’ll talk about human pain relievers and the dangers they present to dogs. We’ll also take a look at pain medication that’s safe for dogs, as well as some natural pain relief methods you can try.
Is Your Dog in Pain? How to Tell
Dogs can be very good at hiding their pain. This is a natural behavior inherited from their wild ancestors. To show any type of weakness in front of predators can put a wild animal in danger. Predators most often choose those animals that are showing signs of distress, pain, injuries, etc. Our fur babies have inherited this natural instinct, so it’s sometimes difficult to determine if they’re in pain.
There are some signs and symptoms you can watch for including:
- Loss of energy: if your fur baby suddenly becomes “lazy” and uninterested in his normal activities, he could be in pain or he may be experiencing another type of health issue.
- Lack of appetite: think of when you’ve had a high level of pain. Did you have much of an appetite? If not, that’s normal. The same goes for your canine companion if he’s in pain. You may notice he’s not drinking or eating like normal.
- Biting/aggression: keep in mind that your dog isn’t able to tell you he’s hurting. So, if you happen to accidentally touch a sore spot, he may turn and bite, or show other signs of aggression. This is normal. He’s just trying to say, “Don’t touch me there, it hurts!” If the area is painful enough, any dog may turn and bite or become suddenly aggressive, even those who are usually loving and sweet.
- Vocalizing more: if your fur baby’s in pain, he may whine, howl, whimper, grunt, groan or even yelp. He may make these sounds when he’s walking, rearranging himself on his dog bed, etc.
- Swelling: just as we sometimes have injuries that swell, your dog may also have some swelling at the site of the pain. You may notice an areas of swelling that feels warmer than the rest of your fur baby’s body. This could be a sign of swelling, as well as pain.
- Your pup’s tail can talk: a dog’s tail can communicate all kinds of emotions. For instance, when he’s happy or excited, your dog may hold his tail upright and wag it quickly back and forth. If he’s angry, he may hold his tail straight up and not move it. Or if he’s feeling sick, sad or in pain, your fur baby may put his tail between his legs or let hold it in slack position.
- Check your dog’s eyes: this is another area where dogs may reveal they’re in pain. Your canine companion’s eyes may be bloodshot, or his pupils may be dilated. They may also have a glassier look than normal, or maybe even look a little bit sick.
- Excessive licking: if your dog is licking an area more than is normal, this could be a sign that particular part of his body is in pain.
- Heavy breathing or panting
- Mobility issues: if your dog is having trouble walking, going up and down stairs that he normally manages, or isn’t jumping on the bed, these could all be signs he’s in pain.
- Shaking or trembling
Never Give These OTC Pain Relievers to Your Dog
It’s horrible to see your pup in pain; however, never reach to your medicine cabinet for one of your over the counter pain medications. Never give these human OTC medications to your fur baby:
NSAIDS: these are anti-inflammatory medications used to treat swelling, reduce fever, stiffness, and joint pain. Never give your dog ibuprofen, which also goes under brand names such as Motrin, Advil, and Nupren, to name a few. Naproxen is another medicine that’s dangerous for dogs; it’s found in Aleve and also goes under other brand names. Another commonly used NSAID is aspirin, which goes under many brand names.
One note on aspirin for dogs: vet do sometimes prescribe aspirin for dogs if they have musculoskeletal inflammation or osteoarthritis. Aspirin may also be given for other painful canine conditions; however, never give your dog aspirin. First call the vet and see if it’s OK to do so, and check with the vet for the right dosage of aspirin to give your canine companion.
Human NSAIDS are toxic to dogs and can cause:
- Vomiting & diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
- Loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
- Kidney dysfunction
- Bleeder disorders
- Kidney and liver damage
These medications can cause a dog to die, unless they receive prompt treatment. Never give them to your dog, unless your vet advises you to give this medication to your fur baby.
Tylenol: this is another commonly used pain reliever found in many of our homes. If given to dogs in doses that are too high, acetaminophen can destroy their liver, damage kidneys and converts hemoglobin to methemoglobin, which keeps the blood from carrying oxygen through the body.
We don’t want to scare you with all of these details; but it is important to understand that giving your dog a pain-relieving medication meant for humans can have very harmful, serious effects.
What Painkillers are Safe for Dogs?
You’ll be relieved and happy to know that there are some pain medications that are safe for dogs. However, these need to be prescribed by your vet. Depending on what’s causing your dog’s pain, the vet can prescribe the following to help your fur baby feel more comfortable:
NSAIDS: there are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications that are made especially for dogs. These are via prescription only from the vet and include:
- Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
- Firocoxib (Previcox)
- Carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl)
- Meloxicam (Metacam)
These medications are usually safe for dogs and they have few side effects. However, they can cause serious problems the kidney, liver or the digestive tract.
Aspirin: as noted earlier, never give your dog aspirin, unless the vet has told you to so. The vet may prescribe aspirin for short-term treatment. It’s best to use coated aspirin and give the medication with food. This helps to protect the stomach and digestive tract from the aspirin.
Gabapentin treats: for nerve damage, your vet may prescribe treats that include a medicine called gabapentin. There’s a human version of this medicine that’s available only by prescription. It has a similar use in humans; however, never give your prescription medication to your dog. If your fur baby needs help with nerve pain, the vet may prescribe gabapentin treats. They may make your pup sleepy but this is a normal side effect, which may diminish over time.
Tramadol: again, this is a medication that’s also available for humans via prescription. Never give your prescription to your fur baby. Instead, the vet will prescribe the pet version, which is something like a mild opioid medication. This can cause an upset stomach, dizziness or vomiting in some dogs.
Opiates: vets will prescribe these medications for dogs, but only for a short time and for severe pain.
Keep in mind that even dog painkiller overdose can happen with medications prescribed by the vet. So, always give your dog the correct dose as prescribed by the vet, and give it only as often as directed. Otherwise, you could cause your dog to suffer an accidental overdose, which can be life-threatening.
Dog Pain Medication Over the Counter
Is there any type of dog pain medication that’s available over the counter? The short answer is no, for the reasons listed earlier. These medications are made for us pet parents, and not for our canine fur babies.
Natural Pain Relief for Dogs
You’ll be happy to learn that there is natural pain relief to help your canine companion when he’s in pain. Let’s start off with some herbal pain remedies that are safe for dogs:
Feverfew: this is an herb that treats inflammation. It’s most often used in humans to treat migraines and arthritis. However, it has been shown to be helpful for dogs, too.
Turmeric: this is an herb that as strong anti-inflammatory effects. It has been shown to help dogs.
There are also supplements you can buy that can help relieve your precious fur baby’s pain naturally.
Vet’s Best Aspirin Free Aches + Pains Dog Supplement: these chewable tablets can offer fast relief of your dog’s pain. The tablets contain plant-based and other ingredients including glucosamine HCL, pineapple bromelain, MSM, and white willow bark. Your dog is certain to enjoy the yummy flavor of these tablets, which will help to relieve the discomfort of joint pain, stiff muscles in active senior and large breed dogs.
Vita Pet Life Turmeric for Dogs: this is an anti-inflammatory remedy that includes curcumin, which is an antioxidant that helps relieve joint pain, improves cardiovascular health and more. These chewable tablets are all natural and have a great flavor. And they’re great for dogs that have sensitive stomachs.
As you can see, there are many options available to help ease your dog’s pain. In addition to these, the vet may also prescribe physical therapy and other treatments, along with either prescribed medicine or natural remedies. You don’t have to see your fur baby suffer!
And remember never to give your canine companion over the counter or prescription pain relieving medications that are meant for you. We wish you and your dog many pain-free and happy days together!