When your dog injures herself, you may be tempted to search through your medicine cabinet to find something to help your dog in pain — but don’t. Giving her any human over-the-counter pain medication at home could cause more harm.
What can I give my dog for pain relief at home?
Nothing in your medicine cabinet is safe for your dog’s pain relief. Advil, Tylenol, Aleve and other human pain medications are dangerous for dogs. Giving NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs made for humans to dogs can damage the kidneys and liver and can cause stomach ulcers and seizures and even death.
The preferred way to treat your dog’s pain is with pain relief made specifically for dogs and approved by the FDA. These medications, such as Carprofen and Grapiprant, are considered safe for dogs and are available by veterinarian prescription.
In some cases, and only if your vet has prescribed it, it’s possible to give your dog a low-dose coated aspirin or baby aspirin for short-term use to treat pain, fever and inflammation. However, aspirin is an over-the-counter NSAID with the potential to cause harm to your dog.
Plain Tylenol is safe for dogs, says Dr. Timothy Bowe of North Colony Animal Clinic in Texas, but the problem is all the different formulations, such as p.m. or extra strength, are not safe for dogs, so most vets do not recommend over the counter Tylenol at all. The best course of action, he says, is to call your local vet and get your pet seen if you think they are in pain.
As with any medications, watch your dog for any adverse reactions. Use the acronym BEST to assess whether your dog is having a reaction to a canine NSAID. If he shows any of the following, stop giving the medication and call your vet immediately:
- Behavior changes
- Eating less
- Skin redness, scabs
- Tarry stool/diarrhea/vomiting
What can I give my dog for pain over the counter?
There are other pain remedies for dogs that are natural or holistic and available at most pet retail stores. As with medications, check with your veterinarian first before giving a supplement designed to ease your dog’s pain. Some supplements may react with medications and that can be dangerous for your dog.
Some dog-formulated supplements that may help reduce a dog’s pain or discomfort include:
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin
- CBD oil
- Boswellia serrata
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Dosage should be advised by your vet, as dosage depends upon accurate body weight, age and health.
Sometimes dogs can recover from minor injuries without medications simply by resting and limiting activities. Maintaining a healthy weight and activity level can help prevent injuries and reduce joint strain. Feeding a biologically appropriate and nutrient-dense diet will help your dog stay healthy and help recover from injuries quicker.
If your dog injures himself or you suspect he is in distress, call your veterinarian immediately. Never medicate your dog without first talking to your vet.