What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?

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Although he may not be able to tell you himself, when your dog is in pain you will probably know it. Dogs have a natural instinct to hide their pain, but you will see subtle signs such as a change in behavior or activity level. When your dog is in pain, the only thing you want to do is help him find relief. Keep reading to learn about what you can and can’t give your dog for pain.

What is the Most Common Pain Reliever for Dogs?

When it comes to pain medications, there are a number of different options out there. Choosing the right medication depends on the cause of your dog’s pain and the dosage can be determined by your veterinarian. In most cases, chronic pain in dogs is caused by musculoskeletal problems like arthritis – when pain is caused by some kind of injury, your veterinarian will include pain medication as part of his treatment plan.

Related: Can I Give My Dog Aleve?

The most common type of pain medication used for dogs is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). These are over-the-counter medications which work by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase which plays a role in producing prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a type of lipid compound which promote fever, inflammation, and pain. The most common NSAIDs used to treat pain in dogs include Metacam, Rimadyl, Piroxicam, Novox, Deramaxx, Previcox, and Etodolac.

What Are the Other Options?

Though NSAIDs are a great option for pain relief, they do come with certain risks. In addition to blocking the enzymes that contribute to pain and inflammation, NSAIDs may also affect blood clotting and circulation to the kidneys. So, taking NSAIDs could resolve your dog’s pain but may put him at risk for hemorrhage or kidney problems.

Related: What is the Proper Aspirin Dosage for Dogs?

Other types of pain relieving medications your dog may take include opiates, steroids, nutraceuticals, and antidepressants. Opiates like Morphine, Paregoric, Buprenorphine, and Codeine are narcotic drugs that block the dog’s ability to recognize pain and, while they may work to reduce pain, these drugs are regulated by the DEA and dogs often develop a tolerance to them.

Steroid drugs like Prednisone, Dexamethasone, and corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation which can contribute to pain. Nutraceuticals, or nutritional supplements, may also help with pain – particularly chronic pain. Some examples include omega-3 fatty acid supplements and glucosamine which is primarily used for joint pain. Antidepressants like Elavil and Tofranil are also sometimes used to relieve pain in dogs.

Safety Tips for Giving Your Dog Pain Relieving Medications

Just because these medications may be safe for dogs to take in the proper dosage doesn’t mean you don’t need to be careful. There is still a high risk for side effects with some of these medications and it is very easy to accidentally give your dog too much. You should always be on the lookout for side effects such as the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Ulcers
  • Constipation
  • Mood changes
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Confusion
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weight loss
  • Hair thinning

At the first sign of trouble, you should consult your veterinarian. If your dog has taken too much of any of these pain relievers, he could develop toxicity and it is important that he get treatment as soon as possible. Never give your dog medications without your veterinarian’s approval and always follow dosing instructions very carefully.