Life with a dog can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its share of responsibilities. As a responsible dog parent, it's important to know how to properly care for your pup, including knowing when they're in pain and what you can do to help relieve that pain.

In this blog post, we'll discuss some of the most common pain relievers and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies for dogs. We'll also cover some of the potential side effects associated with common medications and provide tips on how to safely administer them. If your dog is currently experiencing pain or you just want to be prepared in case of an emergency, read on for helpful advice to help soothe your dog's discomfort.

How To Know If Your Dog Is In Pain & Needs Medication

It can be difficult to tell if your dog is in pain, especially since they can't speak to us directly. However, there are some signs you can look for that may indicate pain. If your dog is whimpering or crying more than usual, seems lethargic or uninterested in activities they normally enjoy, is having trouble moving around, or simply won't move from one spot, they may be in pain and in need of pain relief.

a dog laying on a dog bed


There are a variety of pain medications available for dogs, both over-the-counter and by prescription. Before you attempt to administer any type of medication to your dog, be sure to consult your veterinarian first. They will be able to recommend the best course of treatment based on the severity of your dog's pain, their overall health, and any special health considerations such as age or allergies.

Most Common Types of Pain Medications for Dogs

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, work by reducing inflammation and pain. It can be tempting to give your pup some common over-the-counter NSAIDs from your medicine cabinet, such as ibuprofen (popular brand names include Advil and Motrin), but these household staples can be toxic to dogs.

Luckily, there are some NSAIDs developed specifically for dogs available OTC. The most common are:

  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • Firocoxib (Previcox)
  • Carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl)
  • Meloxicam (Metacam)
  • Grapipant (Galliprant)

Aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be given to dogs but should only be administered under the direction and supervision of a veterinarian. Naproxen (Aleve) should never be administered OTC and should only be prescribed by a vet in cases where dogs cannot tolerate other NSAIDs.

In general, OTC pain medication should only be used on a short-term basis, as long-term use can lead to side effects such as gastrointestinal problems and liver damage. When choosing a pain medication for your dog, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.

How Much Pain Medication to Give Your Dog & How Often It Should Be Administered

Incorrect dosages can be lethal to your dog, even if the medication is an approved over-the-counter treatment. When administering an OTC medication to your dog, always be sure to read all directions and dosage instructions, which are normally based on breed, size, and weight. Most medications will need to be administered with food and water. If you're ever unsure of what dosage to administer, don't guess. Call your vet.

Side Effects Associated with Pain Medication for Dogs

All drugs can cause side effects, even when the correct dosage is administered. Never leave your dog unattended after administering medication for pain and be sure to familiarize yourself with common side effects.

The most common side effect of dog-friendly NSAIDs and other over-the-counter medications include:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin allergies
  • Behavioral changes

If you notice any of these symptoms, stop administering the medication and call your vet.

A More Natural Pain Reliever

If you're looking for a pain reliever than is more natural and won't cause as many side effects, consider CBD for your dog. Available in oil droplets or infused in nylon bones, like the BarkBone Natural Instincts CBD Dog Bone, CBD can be very beneficial to your dog. Recent studies have shown that CBD reduces anxiety, seizures, pain, and inflammation in dogs, and can even improve your dog's skin condition. It can also help with depression and loss of appetite. The only real side effect of CBD is drowsiness. Plus, it's completely safe for your dog.

What To Do When Your Dog Is In Pain

While it's always important to consult with your veterinarian, know that solutions are out there! There are a number of pain relievers available over-the-counter that can be effective for dogs, such as NSAIDs and CBD. If you think your dog might be in pain, it's important to seek help from your vet as soon as possible. Pain medication for dogs can provide relief and improve their quality of life. Also, be sure to weigh the risks and benefits before giving your dog any type of drug. Always follow dosage instructions carefully, and if your dog experiences any side effects, stop giving them the medication and call your vet.

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