What Can I Give My Dog For Pain?

And what to avoid 🙅‍♀️

what to give a dog for pain

It breaks your heart to see your dog in pain, and as a protective parent, you want to do everything in your power to make it go away.

When it comes to pain relief for dogs, it’s all about combining multiple treatments, knowing which pain medications are the best and being aware of what to avoid.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Clarissa B. Lyon, a veterinarian at Larklain Mobile Veterinary Services in Pennsylvania, to find out the best ways to help your dog when he’s in pain.

What to give dogs for pain?


The best way to ease your dog’s pain is by combining multiple types of treatments designed to complement each other.

“The goal with any kind of management of any kind of pain is a multimodal approach,” Dr. Lyon told The Dodo. “That may include a variety of medications. For arthritis it may include joint supplements. It may include physical rehabilitation, so PT [aka physical therapy] or acupuncture or laser therapy.”

Pain meds for dogs


When your vet is prescribing your dog meds to relieve his pain, they’re going to give him what’s called an NSAID (aka a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) for dogs.

One of Dr. Lyon’s go-to NSAIDs for pain relief in dogs is Previcox. Other medications designed specifically for dogs include:

What about over-the-counter pain meds for dogs?


You should never give your dog over-the-counter pain meds.

“You’ve gotta see your veterinarian,” Dr. Lyon said. “Don't use over-the-counter drugs for pain. There are canine-specific medications that we give.”

It can be tempting to just reach into your medicine cabinet and pull out something you already have, like aspirin or ibuprofen.

These are NSAIDs, but they’re designed for humans, not dogs. They’re perfectly safe for us, but incredibly dangerous — and even deadly — for your pup.

“They can cause very serious side effects, and so we do not recommend those,” Dr. Lyon said.

If you give your dog human NSAIDs, it can result in some scary stuff, like:

  • Gastrointestinal ulceration or perforation (aka holes in the GI system)
  • Tissue damage
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Clotting disorders

And if your dog ingests too much of any of these medications, it could result in pretty serious poisoning, too.

If your dog gets into any over-the-counter meds, bring him to your vet ASAP (even if he seems fine). Your vet will be able to run tests to determine how much of the NSAID is in his system and how to treat him.

It’s way too dangerous to give your dog a quick something from your medicine cabinet, but there are plenty of other pain relief treatments that’ll have him feeling healthy and happy — ones that are completely safe and actually designed for his body.

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