What to Give Dogs for Pain

What to Give Dogs for Pain

General Summary of Pain Meds for Dogs
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A lot of things can cause dogs pain. As good parents, we should know the steps to take, what to use and not to use for our beloved canines.
7 minute read
By Team Dr.Tail
Dog in pain sleeping on the couch
Dog in pain sleeping on the couch
Caring for our beloved canines often involves addressing their health needs, including managing pain. Whether due to injury, illness, or age-related conditions, dogs can experience discomfort just like humans. As responsible pet owners, it's crucial to understand how to alleviate their pain safely and effectively. In this article, we'll provide a general overview of pain management options for dogs, including common medications and alternative treatments.
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Signs That Your Pup Is In Pain

Unlike humans, dogs can't directly communicate their discomfort, making recognizing when they're in pain difficult. Understanding the subtle cues and behavioral changes indicative of pain is crucial for providing timely relief and care for our beloved pups. Here are some signs that your dog might be in pain:
  • Changes in Behavior: One of the most obvious signs that your dog is in pain is a noticeable change in their behavior. This can include increased irritability, aggression, or withdrawal. For example, a normally friendly and social dog may become more reserved or even snap when approached.
  • Decreased Appetite: Pain can significantly affect your dog's appetite. If you notice a sudden decrease in their interest in food or treats, it could be a sign that they're experiencing discomfort. Monitor their eating habits and consult with your veterinarian or a DVM if you have concerns.
  • Limping or Difficulty Moving: Observe your dog's movements closely. Limping, stiffness, or reluctance to engage in activities they normally enjoy, such as running or jumping, may indicate pain in their joints or muscles. This could be due to conditions like arthritis or injuries.
  • Excessive Grooming or Licking: Dogs may instinctively try to soothe their pain by licking or grooming the affected area. If you notice your dog obsessively licking a specific part of their body, it could be a sign of discomfort, such as skin irritation or injury.
  • Whimpering or Vocalizing: While some dogs may suffer in silence, others may vocalize their pain through whining, whimpering, or even howling. Pay attention to any unusual vocalizations, especially if they occur during movement or when touched in specific areas.
  • Changes in Posture: Pain can cause dogs to adopt unusual postures to alleviate discomfort. They may hunch their back, tuck in their tail, or favor one side of their body over the other. These changes in posture can be subtle but are important indicators of potential pain.
  • Restlessness or Difficulty Sleeping: Dogs in pain may have difficulty sleeping comfortably. They may frequently change positions or pace around restlessly, unable to find relief. Monitor their sleep patterns and consult your veterinarian if you notice significant changes.

What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs, fully known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, are a class of painkillers commonly used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and lower fever in both humans and pets, including dogs. NSAIDs can be specifically beneficial for managing pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, soft tissue injuries, and post-operative discomfort in dogs. By reducing inflammation and pain, NSAIDs can help improve mobility and overall comfort levels in affected pets.

Examples of Dog NSAIDs

There are several NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) approved for use in dogs. However, they should not be prescribed over-the-counter (OTC). Here are some examples:
  • Carprofen (Rimadyl): Carprofen is one of the most commonly prescribed NSAIDs for dogs. It relieves pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. Carprofen is available in various formulations, including tablets and chewable tablets, making it easy to administer to dogs.
  • Meloxicam (Metacam): Meloxicam is another NSAID commonly used in dogs to manage pain and inflammation, particularly in cases of osteoarthritis. This pain relief medicine is available as an oral suspension or injection and is often prescribed for long-term use due to its once-daily dosing regimen.
  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx): Deracoxib is indicated for pain control and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and post-operative orthopedic surgery in dogs. It comes in tablet form and is generally administered orally once daily.
  • Firocoxib (Previcox): Firocoxib is FDA-approved to control pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in dogs. It is available in chewable tablets, making it convenient for pet owners to administer.
  • Robenacoxib (Onsior): Robenacoxib is indicated for controlling pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and soft tissue surgery in dogs. It is available in tablet form and as an oral solution.
  • Galliprant (Grapiprant): Galliprant is a newer type of NSAID specifically designed for use in dogs. It is considered a safer alternative to traditional NSAIDs for long-term use in dogs with chronic pain conditions. It is available by prescription from a veterinarian and should only be used under veterinary guidance and supervision.

Cases of Dog Reaction To NSAIDs

Although NSAIDs are mostly used for pain management and to treat inflammation in dogs, they can sometimes cause negative reactions. Below are a few examples of reactions dogs may experience:
  • Hepatic Toxicity
  • Gastrointestinal Ulcers
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney Failure
  • Allergic Reactions

Other Pain Medications For Dogs

Apart from NSAIDs, there are other prescription medications used for dogs.
  • Opioids: Opioid medications, such as tramadol, morphine, and fentanyl, are potent pain relievers that can be used to manage moderate to severe pain in dogs. Opioids are often used for acute pain management, such as post-operative pain, or in cases where NSAIDs are not effective or contraindicated. However, they can cause side effects such as sedation, respiratory depression, and constipation and should be used cautiously and under veterinary supervision.
  • Gabapentin: Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant medication that is also used off-label to manage neuropathic pain in dogs. Gabapentin is commonly prescribed for chronic pain conditions such as neuropathic pain associated with nerve damage or spinal cord injuries. Side effects may include sedation, ataxia (loss of coordination), and gastrointestinal upset.
  • Amantadine: Amantadine is another medication that is sometimes used off-label for pain management in dogs. Originally developed as an antiviral medication, amantadine has been found to have analgesic properties and may be used as part of a multimodal approach to pain control in dogs with chronic pain conditions. Side effects may include sedation, gastrointestinal upset, and agitation.
  • Steroids (Corticosteroids): Steroids such as prednisone and dexamethasone are anti-inflammatory medications that can be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain in dogs with certain conditions, such as allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases, and inflammatory bowel disease. However, steroids can have significant side effects, including increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, weight gain, and suppression of the immune system. They are typically used at the lowest effective dose and for the short-term.

Are There Pain Relievers That Work For Humans and Dogs?

Some pain relief human medications can also be used safely and effectively in dogs, although you should consult a veterinarian for proper dosage and administration. One example of such a medication is tramadol, an opioid-like pain reliever commonly prescribed for moderate to moderately severe pain in both species. Another example is gabapentin, an anticonvulsant medication, as stated above. However, drugs like naproxen are not adviseable to use in dogs.

Alternative Ways For Pain Management In Dogs

Alternative methods for pain management in dogs can complement traditional medications or be used as standalone approaches. Here are a few alternative methods that are commonly utilized:
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutritional supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and turmeric
  • Cold Laser Therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT)
  • Natural Remedies like devil's claw, yucca, and boswellia.
  • CBD (Cannabidiol) Products
  • Therapeutic Modalities
When considering alternative methods for pain management in dogs, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about these approaches and can provide guidance tailored to your dog's specific needs and health status. Integrating alternative therapies with conventional treatments can offer a holistic approach to pain management, enhancing your dog's overall well-being and quality of life.