What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?
Nobody likes to see their animal in pain. When you sense that something is wrong with your pet, you probably feel like you would do anything to make that pain go away. That’s only natural. But it’s important to realize that running to the bathroom for an Advil is NOT the right approach. When you ask yourself, “what can I give my dog for pain,” realize that the answer could affect your pet in serious and long term ways. Here are a few of the most common approaches to alleviating pain in your dog.
How to Know Your Pet is In Pain
The first step to aiding your pet is identifying dog pain symptoms. Yelping, crying, or limping are obvious signs your dog is in pain—consult a veterinarian right away. But many animals express pain in more a more subtle fashion. Just as some humans routinely suffer in silence, only speaking up when the pain is nearly unbearable, some pets are the same way. Think then how much sadder this must be when they can’t actually verbalize their pain and discomfort. Some vets have even commented that hiding pain may be a remnant survival instinct from our dog’s more primitive forms. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to how your pet behaves, and to use your intuition around your observations.
One of the most telling signals that something is amiss with your dog is a shift in their behavior patterns. Dogs in pain may avoid jumping on the couch or climbing the stairs (if this is something they normally do), or they may seem more sedentary than usual. A sudden spike in indoor accidents could also signal something’s wrong. Panting is a normal way for dogs to regulate their body temperature, but if it’s not hot out, or if their panting is accompanied by trembling, something might be wrong.
Some other common signals that your dog may be in pain:
- Sudden shyness or aggression
- Excessive self grooming in an area they don’t normally pay attention to
- Disinterest in food, treats, or water
- Reacting negatively to being picked up or handled
With all these signs, it’s important to have a baseline for what’s normal behavior for your dog in order to see when things have changed. A normally quiet dog may vocalize when in pain, and vice versa. The first step to helping your dog is being an observant parent and taking note when they begin to act differently.
Approaches to Dog Pain Management
If you think your dog is in pain, the first thing you should do is consult a veterinarian. Just like in humans, canine pain is caused by a wide range of conditions. But unlike in humans, you should never give your animal pharmaceutical drugs without speaking to a vet first. Even normally harmless over-the-counter medications for humans like ibuprofen, Advil, or Tylenol can be dangerous or even deadly for an animal, even in small doses. These drugs are made for humans and are suited for our metabolism and body chemistry—a dog’s body and physiology is very different! It’s important to consult a vet before administering these drugs to your pets.
Depending on your dog’s condition, the best approach to pain management may be something as simple as changing their diet. A higher quality, lower fat diet may be the approach they suggest first. Applying hot or cold compresses to a sore area is another common approach.
However if the pain is something more serious or persistent, your vet may suggest the use of drugs.
Pros and Cons of NSAIDs
Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs are commonly used to help reduce inflammation in your pet. These drugs are often prescribed after surgery or for dogs with chronic pain issues. The most commonly prescribed forms of NSAIDs are carprofens (Rimadyl, Quellin), meloxicam, firocoxib (Previcox), and deracoxib.
While these NSAIDS can be effective, they carry with them the danger of harming your pet in the long run. Without a vet’s guidance, NSAIDs can cause more problems than they solve. For instance, many NSAIDs are slightly acidic and therefore cause some bowel irritation. Overuse of NSAIDs can cause ulcers, perforations, as well as liver and kidney damage. Some animals have had poor reactions to these drugs, as they are associated with more frequent vomiting, loose stool, and aberrations in behavior. In rare cases, particularly dehydrated animals have suffered renal toxicity and even died from taking NSAIDs.
These unfortunate conditions arise when a parent gives their pet an unusually high dose of the NSAID. They can also occur if the NSAID is administered for too long a time period, or if the dogs develops an allergy to the drug. Giving your dog two or more NSAIDs at the same time compounds the danger.
Needless to say, NSAIDs can be effective in the short term, but they are not a long term solution.
Acetaminophen like Tylenol and ibuprofen have many more potentially serious side effects and are not recommended for use in dogs whatsoever.
If you are caring for a feline, you need to be even more cautious. NSAIDs are more dangerous for cats than they are for dogs. Just one regular strength acetaminophen can kill a cat.
Also note that more serious issues require different options. If needed, your vet may speak with you about amantadine, gabapentin, and tramadol. You should always listen to your vets’ advice and pay particular attention to the suggested length of treatment and dosage.
If you'd like to try something outside the realm of pharmaceutical drugs when treating your dog’s pain, there are several options that bear mentioning.
One route several owners have found success with is glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. These are good options for reduction of inflammation, however many vegetarians and vegans reject their use. Glucosamine is made with crustacean shells, while chondroitin is derived from bovine cartilage.
Adizone is an herbal relief that some have found success with, as well. Unfortunately it often has to be used in conjunction with several other supplements to be truly effective, which can add up in cost.
One route that many dog owners are taking is using cannabidiol (CBD) and products infused with CBD, such as Treatibles.
All animals, including dogs, cats, and humans, have an endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system regulates homeostasis, or normal functioning, throughout the body. Pain, disease and inflammation are all signs that your pet’s body is not functioning normally, and that it needs assistance with this regulation. Plant phytocannabinoids like CBD are a healthy, nontoxic way to provide balance in the body of a human or animal. Ingesting phytocannabinoids like CBD stimulates receptors in your pet’s body and brain, aiding health and vitality and bringing the body back into a state of balance.
The CBD in Treatibles is non-psychoactive and is derived from hemp (a plant related to cannabis, but with no inherent intoxicating chemicals). Using CBD has become very attractive to pet owners because there is no risk of overdosing, and it can be used for extended periods of time without damaging the body.
Treatibles customer Valerie shared this story about her 10 year old husky/ shepherd/ lab mix, Chuck, who was suffering from osteoarthritis.
“I put her on Tramadol and Rimadyl per my vet, who told me the medicine would make her like a new dog! While she seemed to enjoy her Rimadyl biscuit every night, it didn’t add much of a spring to her step, and we discontinued after two weeks of use.
“Chuck got significantly, quantifiably better from using Treatibles… It took about three days of feeding her 2-3 treats/day to see the full effect, but she did get noticeably more comfortable on the first day… Before CBD, she limped and couldn’t enjoy longer walks… Once she started taking [Treatibles], she could leap around again. She started doing her play bows again, and wanting to play!
“These are NECESSARY MEDICINE for her! She’s not high or out of it, she’s not panting or in pain, she is energized and well enough to gallop to the park on three legs!
“If you have an elderly dog going through either arthritis or cancer, I cannot recommend these treats enough.”
While NSAIDs do have their place in short term, acute pain management for dogs, they are not appropriate for long term care. Explore some of these other, more natural options with your vet and see how you can best give your dog a long, happy life.