As with humans, there are times in many dog’s lives when they will experience joint pain.
Whether your dog is recovering from an injury affecting one or more joints or is showing pain and stiffness due to a degenerative condition like arthritis, you may be asking what can I give my dog for pain relief?
It is important to understand the treatments available to relieve or lessen pain for your dog to help improve their quality of life.
While there are medications available to help with pain and inflammation, the best long term approach involves using natural supplements that support joint health.
Are Human Pain Medications Safe for Dogs?
When your dog is showing signs of joint pain such as a reluctance to rise and walk, signs of limb stiffness and unwillingness to go up or down the stairs, you want to help them feel better.
If you are wondering what to give dogs for pain, it is important to remember that you should not turn to human medications.
Not everything that is safe and effective for people works for dogs, and some human medications can be toxic to dogs.
For example, Advil or ibuprofen often helps reduce pain and inflammation in humans, but advil and dogs are a dangerous combination. A dog’s system can only handle a very small dose of ibuprofen without ill effects.
In dogs, this non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) inhibits enzymes that protect the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract. This leads to damage to the lining resulting in ulcers and potentially perforation of the stomach or intestines. T
o avoid unintentionally poisoning your dog, you should avoid turning to drugs designed for people. There are a number of medications formulated for dogs by veterinarians to ensure they are safe and effective.
What Can You Give Dogs for Pain?
There are many ways to help alleviate joint pain for your dog. For immediate relief of pain from injury or degenerative conditions, you can use NSAIDs (such as aspirin for dogs) or corticosteroids.
These drugs work to reduce pain and inflammation.
NSAIDs for Dogs
NSAIDs decrease prostaglandins that cause pain thus providing pain relief. Some examples of NSAIDs formulated by veterinarians to treat pain in dogs are Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Previcox. Each of these medications requires a prescription from your veterinarian.
All three are available in flavored chewable tablets that appeal to your dog, and Rimadyl also has a caplet option. It is important to follow the dosing instructions provided by your veterinarian to ensure safety.
Overdose or prolonged use can lead to damage to the liver, kidney or stomach. Therefore, use of any NSAID should be sparing and intended for relief of acute pain.
Corticosteroids for Dogs
Sometimes NSAIDs are not strong enough to manage severe pain. Corticosteroids occur naturally in very small quantities in dogs but can be given in higher concentrations to help with acute pain and injuries.
The most common corticosteroids used in veterinary medicine are glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids used in veterinary medications are believed to suppress inflammation in the body by stabilizing damaged cells and preventing them from releasing substances that produce inflammation, swelling and fluid build-up.
Prolonged use of corticosteroids can lead to ulcers, a suppression of the body’s immune response, diabetes and other adverse physical effects.
Therefore, corticosteroids should only be used for short time periods to treat acute pain or trauma such as a knee injury or a ruptured disk in the back.
Top selling prescription steroidal treatments for dogs include Prendisone, Prednisolone and Dexamethasone. When you are giving any of these medications to your dog to treat an acute injury or an abrupt increase in pain, be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely.
The dosage is determined by the condition you are treating and your dog’s weight. These medications should not be stopped suddenly but tapered off to prevent withdrawal symptoms and to allow the body to adjust back to natural glucocorticoid levels.
What Can I Do Long Term For My Dog’s Joint Pain?
Pain medications are helpful at the onset of an injury or signs of arthritis to alleviate pain and help your dog maintain a quality of life. However, for the long term it is better to add natural supplements to your dog’s diet to manage pain, reduce the effects of degeneration and support the body’s ability to repair damaged tissues.
While long term use of NSAIDs and corticosteroids can lead to serious side effects, natural supplements are safe and effective to support joint health.
Natural Joint Care Supplements for Dogs
The first nutrients to consider are glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM. These natural compounds help to protect the joint cartilage by promoting lubrication, enhancing structural integrity and stimulating the body’s ability to repair damaged cartilage.
They also have anti-inflammatory qualities that reduce stiffness and pain in the joints.
Dasuquin with MSM for Dogs contains glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM for maximum joint support. These supplements are available in flavored tablets or soft chews that appeal to dogs. The package includes dosing instructions and recommends starting with a loading dose for about 4-6 weeks. It may take about 1-2 months to notice improvement as the supplements affect the joint health.
Another type of supplement that helps manage joint health and reduce inflammation is omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are a group of essential fatty acids that the body does not produce itself but needs to be included in the diet.
Two of the omega 3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and ecosapentaenoic acid (EPA) play key roles in reducing the production of inflammatory substances when cells are damaged.
One of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids for dogs is fish oil from oily fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies and herring.
Some excellent fish oil supplements include Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet and Paw Choice Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil. Nordic Naturals contains fish oil from wild anchovies and sardines and is available in a gel cap form that can be given directly to your dog or punctured and poured over food.
Paw Choice Wild Alaskan Oil is available in liquid form for pouring over food. Both supplements include dosing instructions with the packaging to ensure your dog is getting the right amount to help promote healthy joints.
Long-Term Pain Relief for Dogs
Supplements are a great long term approach to dealing with joint pain in your dogs. They are safe to use in recommended doses and do not interact with any required medications.
Studies demonstrate that use of supplements supporting joint health before injury or degenerative signs appear can help reduce damage to the joint and delay the onset of chronic conditions like arthritis.
In the long term this will help reduce or eliminate the need to turn to pain medications. When you encounter acute onset of pain from an injury or severe arthritis flare up, you may need to use an NSAID or corticosteroid to keep your dog comfortable.
Remember these should be used sparingly for short periods of time to prevent negative side effects. When deciding what to give dogs for pain, only consider medications formulated for dogs by veterinarians – and always consult with your vet first.
Using medications made for people is not safe. Remember that Advil and dogs do not mix.