When it comes to our dogs, we want to make sure they’re always happy. A happy dog is a pain-free dog, which is why it is important for pet parents to educate themselves on the variety of safe pain meds for dogs to provide relief. If you have ever asked yourself, “What can I give my dog for pain?” then this article is for you.
Signs of Pain in Dogs
Veterinarians prescribe pain relievers to dogs in many situations. These include for post-surgical pain, after dental procedures, following injury, in diseases that cause abdominal pain—including pancreatitis or urinary tract disorders—intervertebral disc disease, nerve root pain, painful skin conditions and osteoarthritis.
Signs of pain in dogs can be obvious, like limping or yelping. Sometimes, however, signs can be difficult to detect. The following behaviors may indicate your dog is in pain:
- Not playing as much
- Sleeping more
- Lowered tail
- Reluctance to jump or climb stairs
- Decreased appetite
If you notice any of these signs, or other odd behaviors, it is time for a visit to your veterinarian.
Common Pain Meds for Dogs
The most common pain medications prescribed to dogs belong to a category of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
One commonly prescribed NSAID is carprofen. Carprofen belongs to the same class of drugs as ibuprofen, but ibuprofen has a narrow margin of safety in dogs, can cause stomach ulcers and is not recommended for use in canines. Carprofen is available under the brand name Rimadyl and in many generic formulations.
In some cases, dogs do not do well with carprofen, so other NSAIDS can be substituted. These include Galliprant, Deramaxx and meloxicam.
If your pup is experiencing muscle spasms or nerve pain, then gabapentin or bethanecol might be a good option for pain control.
In addition to muscle relaxants and NSAIDS, veterinarians might prescribe opioids, such as fentanyl or morphine, for short-term post-surgical pain or severe pain relief.
Many pet parents ask if there’s aspirin or generic aspirin for dogs that is safe. In the short term, aspirin for dogs likely is safe, but it is not recommended for long-term pain control in dogs because of the risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding disorders. If you want to give your dog aspirin, talk with your veterinarian about a safe aspirin dose for your pup.
For more natural pain relief medication alternative, CBD oil is purported to relieve pain in dogs, and a new study published out of Cornell this past year showed that CBD oil is effective at helping to control pain in arthritic dogs.
Always talk to your veterinarian to determine the best pain med and/or treatment plan for your specific pet.
How to Talk to Your Veterinarian About Putting Your Dog on a Pain Reliever
If you suspect your dog is in pain, schedule a consultation with your veterinarian and share your concerns. Be specific in the signs you are noticing, because this will give your veterinarian clues as to where your dog hurts. Your veterinarian will conduct a physical exam, share the findings with you and make recommendations for additional testing and/or pain management.
If your veterinarian recommends testing, then do it. The information always proves valuable. For example, I have seen dogs who were diagnosed with arthritis from the physical exam and no X-rays were taken. After prescribed pain medications offered no improvement, the dogs were brought back for X-rays, only to find a bone tumor.
Veterinarians do not have crystal balls or psychic abilities—and if they do, consider getting a second opinion. We rely on our diagnostic tools to give you an accurate diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan.
Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian for pain management options, including natural supplements and/or generic formulations. You also can look into online purchase options for convenience and price. Remember, your veterinary care staff’s primary job is to help you and your dog.
Also ask about testing requirements for long-term pain medications. Most veterinarians require an annual exam and bloodwork to ensure that the drug is working and not causing any harm to the pet’s other organs.
Lastly, ask if a multimodal (multiple actions) pain management plan is possible. We now know that if we target pain from several directions, we can provide more holistic relief to dogs.
As in the case of osteoarthritis, just giving a pain pill isn’t enough to help the dog. When the pain pill is combined with a joint supplement, proper diet and exercise, however, then we can effectively treat pain, build strength and improve quality of life. Besides, it will impress your vet if you pull out a fancy doctor word like “multimodal,” and that’s always fun.
Nobody should have to live with pain, including our fur friends. Pain lowers the quality and duration of life, and it causes anxiety, depression and the release of stress hormones that wreak havoc on the body. If pain is detected, either by you or your veterinarian, then your dog should be on some form of pain control and, if possible, a treatment regimen designed to eliminate the cause of the pain.
Featured Image: Via iStock.com/sanjagrujic