If you suspect your dog is in pain, you might be wondering what you can give them to make them feel better. Our dogs are like our children, and when we suspect they may be suffering or in pain, we feel helpless and want to do anything we can to help them. But what can we do, safely, that won’t make them sick, or worse? If you've ever wondered, "what can I give my dog for pain?," this is for you.
Before you can treat your dog's pain, you need to understand what's causing it. Below you'll find signs and symptoms of dog's pain as well as medicine and alternative treatments.
Dog pain symptoms can be both physical and behavioral. As Dr. Laura Robinson, a Pawp veterinary advisor, explains: "Dogs have a very high pain tolerance. They have a drive to stay alive that will sometimes cover the pain so by the time we're seeing obvious pain from them, it means whatever it is, is pretty advanced." Some common signs your dog is in pain include:
Of course, the best thing to do if you think your dog is in pain is to talk to a vet and get their advice. “Even if they can't see you due to opening hours, COVID restrictions, or your finances, they’ll still be able to advise the best pain relief for your pet,” says Dr Joanna Woodnutt of Breed Advisor.
There are multiple types of pain in dogs. For example: “Traditional management of chronic arthritis pain is best tackled with a multimodal approach using Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) like Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Galliprant and Metacam along with a nutraceutical that contains Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate like Dasuquin Advanced or Glycoflex,” explains veterinarian Joelle Mitchell-Navratik who is CEO of MRVL Pets.
Using these in combination has been very effective in treating most cases of arthritis pain. “The NSAID class of drugs do require laboratory monitoring to check that it is safe to use since they are in general metabolized through the dog’s kidneys or liver,” says Mitchell-Navratik.
Generally, dog-specific medications are best, as they have been tested over and over to make sure they are safe. “There are no over-the-counter pain relief drugs for dogs, so you will need a discussion and usually a visit for your vet to prescribe them,” explains Dr. Woodnutt.
Why? Because dogs can’t tell you how much it hurts, where it hurts, or whether it’s going to develop into something more serious, so they need a vet to examine them and make the decision to treat or investigate on their behalf.
“It’s natural to want to alleviate your dog’s pain as soon as possible, but it’s not a good idea to use over-the-counter human products for your dog,” says Dr. Woodnutt. Whilst we often feel very close to our dogs, it’s important to remember that they're a different species, and drugs can affect them differently to us. “Ibuprofen, for instance, is toxic to dogs and should never be given as pain relief,” warns Dr. Woodnutt.
There are certain human medications, says Dr. Woodnutt, like paracetamol, which are occasionally suitable to give to dogs in pain in an emergency, but it’s essential that the right dose is given. “Your dog’s weight, body fat percentage and any other diseases or conditions they may have impact the amount of paracetamol they need, and getting the dose wrong can have fatal results,” warns Dr. Woodnutt. If your vet deems it’s OK to give your dog paracetamol, they’ll be able to recommend a dose taking these things into account.
CBD oil is becoming an over-the-counter option to give dogs for pain. “CBD products will need to be used with caution since there is no regulatory agency that oversees quality,” notes Dr. Michelle Burch, DVM of Safe Hounds Pet Insurance. Some products may have impurities or not the stated concentration. “Research is currently undergoing to determine the appropriate dosing for dogs,” says Dr. Burch.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to talk to your vet and proceed as they advise. The wrong medication can make things a lot worse very quickly — it’s important to take the safest steps for a pain-free — and healthy! — pet!