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The last time my pet was in pain, I was ready to call the pet-ambulance and spend all of my savings to make them feel better.
As pet parents, we tend to act a little bit too hastily when we worry about our pets being injured, sick, or in pain.
If you notice that your dog is suffering, the crazy pet mama bear in you might want to give them all of your over-the-counter (OTC) medications to help their ailments.
After all, what else can you do?
I can assure you that you should take a step back and decide if those medications are the right choice when you realize that your pup is in pain!
Are ‘over-the-counter’ medications even safe for dogs? What can I give my dog for pain? Which medicines should I avoid? All of these questions will come pouring into your mind.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common OTC medications, and whether they might be useful to give your pup some pain relief.
This article should serve as an overview of OTC medications for dogs, but it should not be a substitute for the diagnosis and advice of a veterinarian. If you think your dog is sick or injured contact your vet immediately.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Can You Give a Dog Aspirin?
- Types of Aspirin
- Can You Give aDog Ibuprofen?
- Can You Give aDog Tylenol?
- Other OTC Medications that are Safe for Dogs
- The Best Pain Medications for Dogs
- A Note About Arthritis Pain
- Final Thoughts on OTC Medications for Dogs
- Save to Pinterest:
- Top Picks For Our Dogs
Can You Give a Dog Aspirin?
Photo credit: congerdesign / pixabay
Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug, known for decreasing swelling and the irritations associated with it. For humans, aspirin eases the pain of headaches, swollen joints, and fevers.
There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about giving your dog aspirin.
The bottom line is this:
It’s okay to give your dog aspirin for short-term pain relief, provided you’ve okayed it with a veterinarian first.
Long-term use can cause serious side-effects, including internal bleeding. Coated baby aspirin will be easier on your dog’s stomach, and you should always give aspirin to your dog with food.
Dosage: The recommended aspirin dosage for dogs is 5 mg/lb given by mouth twice daily.
Types of Aspirin
To further complicate matters, you can will find several types of aspirin available at your local pharmacy.
It’s important to know the difference between them, because some types can be ineffective at best and harmful at worst.
- Uncoated– Uncoated aspirin should only be used for humans. It will irritate the lining of your dog’s stomach, causing internal bleeding.
- Enteric-coated– The coating is meant to protect the lining of the stomach in humans. Dogs do not fully digest the coating, and won’t receive the full benefit of the medication. We don’t recommend giving enteric-coated aspirin to dogs.
- Buffered– If you must use OTC aspirin to treat your dog, you should use buffered aspirin. It contains ingredients that will balance the aspirin’s acidity, which will help protect the lining of your dog’s stomach.
Caution: NEVER give aspirin to cats. It is considered highly toxic.
Can You Give aDog Ibuprofen?
No. Ibuprofen is considered toxic for dogsand should never be used as a canine painkiller. Never give your dog Advil, Motrin, Midol or other drugs containing ibuprofen. Even small amounts can be life-threatening.
Symptoms of ibuprofen poisoning include:
- Bloody feces
- Blood in vomit
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Decreased or lack of urine
If you think your dog may have ingested ibuprofen, please call your veterinarian immediately. This medicine will give them anything but pain relief.
Can You Give aDog Tylenol?
Tylenol and other types of acetaminophen are not NSAIDs and do not reduce inflammation.
There are some cases to be aware of:
They can be used to treat pain in certain circumstances, but only under the supervision of a veterinarian, particularly because an incorrect dosage could be highly toxic, resulting in liver, kidney, and tissue damage.
For more information on Tylenol poisoning, please read this article by PetMD. (And note: Cats are even more susceptible to poisoning than dogs, so please keep acetaminophen out of reach of all your pets!)
Other OTC Medications that are Safe for Dogs
- Benadryl – Treats allergies and itching, and is especially useful for bringing down the swelling after insect bites or stings. Benadryl dosage for dogs: ½ to 1 mg per pound of body weight.
- Dramamine – Used to treat motion sickness in dogs, Dramamine can be given before long car rides to make your dog comfortable. Dosage: Please consult your veterinarian.
- Diarrhea Medications – KaoPectate, Immodium AD, and PeptoBismol can all be used to treat your dog’s diarrhea. Dosage: Please consult your veterinarian.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: One product we’ve used to help minimize stress and has also helped prevent our dog’s from itching their body (because it covers their torso) is the Thundershirt.
The Best Pain Medications for Dogs
So based on all the warnings and cautions in this article, there is no easy solution for treating a dog that is in pain.
Consulting your veterinarian is really the best solution, and based on your dog’s unique situation, your vet will probably prescribe one of several NSAIDs that have been specially formulated to act as a dog pain killer.
These non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug options are FDA-approved for dogs, which means that they have been shown to be safe and effective when used according to the label.
OTC pain medications for people don’t have the assurances of safety and effectiveness in pets.
But you should know…
These NSAIDs are only available with a prescription, and even these NSAIDs have known side effects, especially if they aren’t used properly.
When treating your dog for pain, you can help reduce the risk of complications by ensuring that you:
- Provide your veterinarian with a complete medical history, including medications or herbal supplements that your dog is taking.
- Follow your veterinarian’s advice regarding the need for laboratory testing before starting them on any pain medication.
- Do not give your dog NSAIDS with any other OTC medication. Follow your veterinarian’s advice concerning dosage and treatment schedule.
- Give your dog NSAIDs with food if possible.
- Be sure your dog drinks plenty of fresh water every day. Dehydration will greatly increase the risk of side effects.
- Call your veterinarian immediately if your dog is vomiting, not eating, has diarrhea, or seems more lethargic than usual.
- If your dog’s discomfort is post-surgical pain, make sure to call your vet and ask them how to treat it. They will know the best answer.
A Note About Arthritis Pain
Make sure that you follow veterinarian advice to treat arthritis related joint pain.
This chronic pain should be handled with long term pain management in mind, so do not use OTC products to treat it unless recommended to do so by a vet.
You have to know:
Arthritis pain is more complex than OTC pain killers can handle, especially for dogs, so you want to treat this type of pain carefully. There are even some natural remedy options that can help ease this chronic pain:
- Boost diet with glucosamine supplements
- Add healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to diet
- Feed a senior dog food with added probiotics
Final Thoughts on OTC Medications for Dogs
Your dog is a treasured member of your family, and you want to do all you can to ensure they live healthy, happy lives by your side. Easing their pain when they suffer is part of your job as a pet owner.
While some OTC medications may be relatively safe to use for dogs in certain circumstances, the dosages on the label are not intended for pet use, and OTC drugs for people have not been tested on animals.
When looking for a course of action to ease your dog’s pain, your best course of action is to:
- bring your dog to a veterinarian
- give your dog pain medications that have been either prescribed or recommended by that veterinarian.
Your dog’s health is important, and the risks of using any OTC medications without the approval of a veterinarian are just not worth it.
Disclaimer: All content on this site is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be nor can it be considered actionable professional advice. It must not be used as an alternative to seeking professional advice from a veterinarian or other certified professional.
LabradorTrainingHQ.com assumes no responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of what’s written on this site. Please consult a professional before taking any course of action with any medical, health or behavioral related issue.
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Top Picks For Our Dogs
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
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For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.
Can I give my dog Benadryl for pain? ›
If the source of your dog's pain is an allergic reaction, there's one human-grade drug that can be administered with confidence: Benadryl. Veterinarians regularly give dogs a dose of this antihistamine when experiencing a minor allergic reaction.What human medicine is safe for dogs? ›
- Antihistamines. ...
- Antidiarrheals/Antinauseants. ...
- Loperamide (Imodium®). ...
- Famotidine (Pepcid AC®) and cimetidine (Tagamet®). ...
- Steroid sprays, gels, and creams. ...
- Topical antibiotic ointment. ...
- Anti-fungal sprays, gels, and creams. ...
- Hydrogen peroxide.
While you can use human baby aspirin as recommended by your vet, aspirin made for dogs is typically a better option. Human aspirin has a coating on it that helps to protect the human stomach from irritation. Your dog cannot digest this coating, so the medication may not provide the desired effects.Can I give my dog baby aspirin for pain? ›
Never attempt to relieve your dog's pain by administering over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, naproxen (e.g., Aleve), acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), or aspirin. Human anti-inflammatories can cause life-threatening toxicities in pets, and you should give your dog only veterinarian-prescribed medications.Can I give my dog Tylenol for pain? ›
Tylenol should never be given to a dog unless under the supervision of a veterinarian, because it may cause kidney damage, liver damage, and damage to the gastrointestinal system.Can dogs have Advil or Tylenol? ›
Never give your dog the most common over-the-counter human pain relievers: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) Naproxen (Aleve)How much Tylenol can I give my dog? ›
The correct dosage of Tylenol is around 10 mg per kg of body weight every 12 hours. Some sources claim that you can give your dog up to 30 mg per kg for a short period. Recommended dosages are different for every dog, so you're best off checking with your veterinarian before giving your dog Tylenol.Can I give my dog ibuprofen for pain? ›
Can I give Ibuprofen to my Pet? Do not give Ibuprofen to your dog or cat under any circumstances. Ibuprofen and naproxen are common and effective medications used to treat inflammation and pain in humans, but they should not be given to pets. These drugs can be toxic (poisonous) to dogs and cats.What can you give a dog for pain aspirin? ›
Vets usually prescribe aspirin for dogs with osteoarthritis or musculoskeletal inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with these conditions and can offer your dog relief from symptoms.Can I give my dog a muscle relaxer for pain? ›
Muscle relaxers for dogs are used to reduce muscle pain, inflammation, and general stiffness that cannot be treated with natural at-home remedies. You can use over the counter muscle relaxants, but it is always a good idea to consult a vet to make sure the condition can and should be helped using them.
Can Benadryl help with pain? ›
Diphenhydramine may be useful in the treatment of neuropathic and nociceptive pain that has failed to respond to treatment with opioids and adjuvant analgesics. We suggest a starting dose of 25 mg of oral or parenteral diphenhydramine every 6 to 8 hours, with titration to effect.Can you give a dog over-the-counter medicine? ›
This might seem inconvenient, but giving your dog an over-the-counter (OTC) medication can cause more harm than good or even make your dog's existing health condition worse. Your dog may also have a specific condition or reason that means it's not okay to give them a medication that might be okay for another dog.How can I treat my dogs limping at home? ›
Soak the foot in warm water with Epsom salts to relieve swelling. Then apply antibiotic ointment. If the dog has swelling associated with a sprain, bruise or tendonitis, apply ice packs to the area for 15 minutes twice daily. Flowing water improves circulation, reduces swelling, and promotes healing.Is Advil safe for dogs? ›
In dogs, ibuprofen can be very toxic and it should never be given to your dog under any circumstances. Dogs have a much higher risk for adverse reactions from Advil because they metabolize drugs differently than humans do.Can I give my dog baby aspirin for pain? ›
Never attempt to relieve your dog's pain by administering over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, naproxen (e.g., Aleve), acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), or aspirin. Human anti-inflammatories can cause life-threatening toxicities in pets, and you should give your dog only veterinarian-prescribed medications.Can you give dogs Tylenol for pain? ›
Never give your dog the most common over-the-counter human pain relievers: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin)Is baby aspirin safe for dogs? ›
While you can use human baby aspirin as recommended by your vet, aspirin made for dogs is typically a better option. Human aspirin has a coating on it that helps to protect the human stomach from irritation. Your dog cannot digest this coating, so the medication may not provide the desired effects.Can I give my dog ibuprofen for pain? ›
Can I give Ibuprofen to my Pet? Do not give Ibuprofen to your dog or cat under any circumstances. Ibuprofen and naproxen are common and effective medications used to treat inflammation and pain in humans, but they should not be given to pets. These drugs can be toxic (poisonous) to dogs and cats.Is 81 mg baby aspirin safe for dogs? ›
There are two sizes of aspirin available for use in dogs, adult aspirin (325 mg) and low dose aspirin (81 mg). It is recommended to give buffered aspirin if possible. 1 baby aspiring/ 10 pounds body weight given every 12 hours. 1 adult aspirin/40 pounds body weight given every 12 hours.How much Tylenol can I give my dog? ›
The correct dosage of Tylenol is around 10 mg per kg of body weight every 12 hours. Some sources claim that you can give your dog up to 30 mg per kg for a short period. Recommended dosages are different for every dog, so you're best off checking with your veterinarian before giving your dog Tylenol.
How can I treat my dogs limping at home? ›
Soak the foot in warm water with Epsom salts to relieve swelling. Then apply antibiotic ointment. If the dog has swelling associated with a sprain, bruise or tendonitis, apply ice packs to the area for 15 minutes twice daily. Flowing water improves circulation, reduces swelling, and promotes healing.What can you give a dog for pain never Tylenol or ibuprofen only this? ›
If you want to relieve your pet's pain naturally without NSAIDs, veterinarians.org suggests CBD oil, green-lipped mussels and turmeric. CBD oil reduces pain and discomfort and has anti-inflammatory properties in animals, according to arthritis.org.Can you give a dog Aleve? ›
Aleve is extremely toxic for dogs, and even a small dose can cause life-threatening side effects. If your dog needs treatment for pain, including chronic pain caused by arthritis, consult your veterinarian. Do not give your dog this medication under any circumstances.What can you give a dog for pain aspirin? ›
Vets usually prescribe aspirin for dogs with osteoarthritis or musculoskeletal inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with these conditions and can offer your dog relief from symptoms.What does gabapentin do to dogs? ›
Gabapentin is a medicine given to dogs to control and treat seizures, help with pain, and assist with treating anxiety. Different doses of gabapentin can be administered according to the pet's needs. Some adverse effects of gabapentin include lethargy, diarrhea, and anxiety.Can I give my 20 pound dog a baby aspirin? ›
The recommended dosage is 5 mg to 10 mg of aspirin per pound of a dog's weight, as recommended by your veterinarian, and it can be given once every 12 hours. For comparison's sake, 81 mg of aspirin for dogs is equivalent to one baby aspirin, and an adult aspirin starts at 320 mg.What kind of anti-inflammatory is safe for dogs? ›
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAID options that are approved for use in dogs include carprofen (e.g. Rimadyl), deracoxib (e.g. Deramaxx), etodolac (e.g. Etogesic), firocoxib (e.g. Previcox), meloxicam (e.g. Metacam), robenacoxib (e.g. Onsior), and mavacoxib (e.g. Trocoxil).
- Turmeric. Perhaps the best-known and most widely used medicinal herb to treat joint pain and inflammation is turmeric. ...
- Boswellia serrata. ...
- Cinnamon. ...
You should never give your dog ibuprofen. The medicine can cause damage to your dog's stomach and kidneys, says Alison Meindl, DVM, a veterinarian, and professor at Colorado State University. This is because ibuprofen blocks the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX).