Feeling pain is never fun, and it can hurt even more when it's your dog suffering from pain, especially when you don't know what's causing the pain. Anyone who has ever owned a furry, four-legged pet knows well the urgency to find relief for your canine loved one when he or she is in pain. Treating a dog for pain is no easy endeavor. It starts with the realization that not all over-the counter medication deemed safe and effective for humans is advisable for trying to relieve dog pain. There are natural pain remedies for dogs, but be aware that providing pain relief for your dog is as much about knowing what not to give him as it is what to give him – under a veterinarian's guidance, of course.
Recognizing a Dog's PainDogs are conditioned to hide their pain, a trait passed down through generations to help protect dogs from potential predators targeting prey they spot in a weakened state. Just because a dog isn't limping, whimpering or showing other signs of obvious pain, don't assume he is fine. If you see him do something that looks like it injured him, such as taking a tumble down some steps, figure that if it is something that would hurt you, it probably hurts him. Per vcahospitals.com, following are signs and symptoms to be looking for as indicators that your precious prince or princess is in pain and needs attention:
- Being quiet and withdrawn
- Showing uncharacteristic aggressiveness or growling when approached
- Ears flat against the head
- Unexpected reactions when touched
- Increased licking of a particular area of the body
- Personality changes
- Lagging behind on walks
- Reluctance to run, jump, or play
- Stiffness or limping.
Human Pain Relievers Can Harm DogsBefore you reach inside your medicine cabinet to grab whatever pain medication you have in there, know this: such medications can be harmful to your pups, even fatal. You've heard the maxim about never giving chocolate to your dog because it can severely harm him or her? Essentially, the same warning holds true for medicines. Again, talk to your vet first before you make a big mistake. This is not being ado about nothing – it is ado about something. Dog owners should stay alert and handle their dogs and pain treatments with an abundance of care. About avoiding certain human painkillers: Many NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are known to impede cyclooxygenase, which is an enzyme that manufactures prostaglandins that promote inflammation, fever, and pain. That might sound good, but there is more to the story when it comes to alleviating dog suffering via NSAIDs. These prostaglandins perform other key functions such as managing sufficient blood flow to the kidneys and normal blood clotting. They also produce the mucus that coats the gastrointestinal tract, guarding it from stomach acid. Without such provisions and protections, your dog, if given NSAIDs, can experience a number of problematic conditions to include vomiting, diarrhea that frequently is bloody, loss of appetite, intestinal issues, and kidney or liver failure, ultimately proving fatal in the worst cases.
Effective Dog Pain Relievers, Including Natural RemediesThe good news is that there are NSAIDs known to be safe and effective for dogs, as well as supplements that can do the trick so that your dog is again performing tricks of its own. Exercise caution: don't use any painkillers for your dog without first having it examined by your vet and getting their recommendations:
- Aspirin for dogs. This should only be administered by the vet, who typically will use aspirin short-term to treat mild to moderate pain generated by a condition such as osteoarthritis or musculoskeletal inflammation, per vets-now.com.
- Natural supplement remedies. These can include glucosamine and chondroitin, per vets-now.com. They are often used to treat arthritis.
- NSAIDs for dogs: These include carprofen, deracoxib, firocoxib, and meloxicam, per pets.webmd.com. These drugs are generally considered safe for dogs with few side effects, although their use can cause kidney, liver, or digestive issues. If your dog is having a bad reaction to one of these NSAIDs, remember the acronym BEST and be looking for Behavioral changes, Eating less, Skin redness or scabbing, and/or Tarry stool/diarrhea.
- Gabapentin. Treats pain from damaged nerves, used for both humans and dogs, per pets.webmd.com. Might make dog sleepy for first few days.
- Tramadol. A painkiller similar to opioid medications, per pets.webmd.com. Vets occasionally give it to dogs that are aging and experiencing chronic discomfort.