Before you mix dogs and ibuprofen, you should ask, What can I give my dog for pain?
Anyone who has watched dogs playing with each other knows that they have a higher tolerance for pain than we do, but make no mistake - they can still get hurt. When we’re in pain, we know to reach for the aspirin or ibuprofen. But when it’s your four-legged friend suffering, you should be asking "What can I give my dog for pain?"
Avoiding dangerous medications
Never try to use over-the-counter pain meds for dogs. Even the most harmless over-the-counter human medicines can have disastrous consequences for a dog, up to and including death. This includes medicines such as:
With the exception of acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol, these pain relievers are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDS, that slow the production of prostaglandins in humans. In dogs, though, they can have devastating consequences including:
- Reduced appetite
- Bloody stool
- Intestinal complications
- Bleeding problems
- Kidney or liver failure
It doesn’t take a large dose of NSAIDS to place your dog in jeopardy, so never give them any of these medications! NSAIDS are equally dangerous for cats, but since dogs are more likely to eat strange things, they are affected more often.
For both dogs and cats, acetaminophen can damage the liver and kidneys, and limit the ability of blood to deliver oxygen through the body.
If your dog has swallowed any of these medications, intentionally or by accident, contact your vet immediately. If your dog ate the pills recently, you should induce vomiting by giving the dog hydrogen peroxide. For every ten pounds that the dog weighs, give one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. This can help to limit the impact of the medication on the dog’s body.
Treating an injured dog
Since human medicines are out of the question, what should you do for a dog in pain? If your dog has been injured, your vet may give a prescription for a medication designed specifically for dogs. Although these kinds of pain relievers are safer for your pet, they should only be used according to the vet’s instructions.
Relieving inflammation in dogs
But dogs can still experience pain even if they aren’t injured. If your dog is experiencing pain from inflammation of the joints, such as chronic arthritis because of age or due to excessive weight, you may be able to reduce the pain by changing the dog’s diet. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation.
In the case of overweight dogs, a combination of lower calorie intake and exercise can help to get the dog’s weight under control and reduce stress on the joints and prevent inflammation.
Changing your dog’s diet in these ways can decrease or eliminate the need for medication. If your dog is still experiencing pain from inflammation, your veterinarian may suggest treatments such as:
- Physical therapy
- Cold laser treatments
You shouldn’t attempt to make significant changes to your pet’s diet or exercise routine without checking with your vet.
Finding natural remedies
If you are looking for sources of pain relief for dogs without needing to involve the veterinarian, there are some natural remedies that you can try. These include:
Feverfew: This anti-inflammatory can be used for arthritis and is an alternative to aspirin. Use a tincture containing one half teaspoon of feverfew for every 20 lbs. of the dog’s weight. You can administer feverfew this way twice a day.
Skullcap: For nerve-related injuries, skullcap can be combined with St. John’s wort in an alcohol tincture to relieve pain. To use it, mix 12 drops of skullcap and 12 drops of St. John's wort for every 20 lbs. of the dog’s weight. You can use this tincture three times a day for one week.
St. John’s wort: In addition to its use in the skullcap tincture, St. John’s wort can be used directly on the dog’s skin for relief from pain. It can be used in a tincture, a salve or an oil infusion.
Licorice: This is an anti-inflammatory that won’t impact your dog’s immune system. Use an oil infusion applied directly to the painful area.
Cayenne: The capsaicin in cayenne can prevent pain, improve circulation, and help the body fight inflammation. Apply an ointment directly to the sore areas.
Ginger: For muscle pain, ginger can be used in a poultice and applied topically.
Turmeric: Comparable to cortisone, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory that can be mixed with your dog’s food as a dietary supplement.
Yucca: This pain reliever can be used to reduce pain that is often used as an alternative to drugs like prednisone. It can be combined with licorice to increase its effectiveness.
CBD oil: This pain reliever can be given to dogs to treat chronic pain such as arthritis. The cannabinoids in CBD oil also make it an excellent antioxidant.
While these natural remedies are generally safe if used as directed, you should use them with caution. As with any alternative medicines, you can’t assume that the claims of their effectiveness have been proven. The technical name for alternative medicines that have been proven to be effective is – you guessed it – medicine! If your dog is suffering despite the natural remedies you're trying, you should absolutely seek the help of a veterinarian.
When your dog is suffering, you may not be able to wait for a vet appointment to ask "What can I give my dog for pain?" If you need an immediate answer to a veterinary question, the qualified experts on JustAnswer are a fast and affordable resource.
What pain remedies have you used for your pets? Share in the comments!