Should I Give My Dog Pain Medication?

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pain medication for dogs

Is your dog in constant pain?

You might have blamed your dog’s age for his slower movements, but chronic pain may be the root cause. This leaves you wondering, Can I give my dog Ibuprofen? Can dogs take Tylenol? After all, even children can take Tylenol safely, so why not your pet?

You want to do whatever it takes to keep your dog comfortable and happy, but the best choice of treatment isn’t always clear. Here’s the information you need to find the most effective treatment for your dog’s health and quality of life.

The Differences Between Mild and Severe Pain In Your Dog

Pain begins as inflammation, a term that most people recognize but don’t fully understand.

Inflammation occurs as a natural biological response to an injury in order to protect the body from invading pathogens and toxins. Without its natural inflammatory response, the body wouldn’t be able to heal from infections, wounds, or tissue damage.

However, if the body fails to stop the inflammation process over time, it becomes chronic. This ongoing form of inflammation can last months or even years. It’s usually triggered by pathogens the body can’t break down, especially viruses and toxic foreign bodies.

Instead of supporting the body’s natural healing processes, chronic inflammation stunts healing and causes widespread pain.

Symptoms of Mild and Severe Pain

Like any problem, pain affects dogs at different intensities. Mild pain is hard to identify because it begins subtly. You may confuse signs of mild pain with the normal impacts of aging, since mild pain won’t dramatically restrict your dog’s movements.

Severe pain, however, creates observable changes as inflammation worsens. Any of the following symptoms may indicate inflammation in your dog:

  • Irritable when touched, especially near joints or tender area
  • Unusual depression
  • Less involvement in favorite activities
  • Avoids strenuous movements
  • Sleeps more than usual
  • Swollen joints

As you try to evaluate your dog’s behavior and determine his level of pain, keep in mind that dogs are very scheduled in their behaviors and activities. What has your dog done day after day, year after year, his entire life?

Maybe he has met you at the door with a leap or loyally jogged five miles with you every weekend. Any sudden change to that special routine indicates pain that needs to be addressed.

Can Home Remedies Relieve Your Dog’s Pain?

You already know you don’t want to rely on pain medication for dogs, so what can you give a dog for pain and swelling? Consider exploring the following home remedies for safe and natural alternatives.


Nutraceuticals offer natural alternatives to pain medications for dogs. Popular choices like Glucosamine and fish oil  are derived from foods to improve your dog’s wellness and combat pain.

Glucosamine functions in three major ways to improve arthritis. First, it has a mild anti-inflammatory effect that can minimize the swelling triggered by arthritic joints. Second, glucosamine provides some of the essential building blocks needed to rebuild damaged cartilage. Third, it increases the joint fluid that provides lubrication to the joint’s moving parts- just like oil in a car.

Doggy glucosamine is available in pill or liquid form. Many dog foods claim they contain glucosamine, but that glucosamine has been heated and processed into the dry dog food pellets. This breaks the glucosamine down and eliminates its health benefits. It’s better to purchase glucosamine separately to ensure quality and efficiency.

Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil can also be used as a safe alternative to pain medications for dogs. Omega 3’s work to decrease inflammation and nourish the joints. Fatty acids stimulate the production of lubricating joint fluid to boost mobility of the joints.

Some research even suggests that fish oil increases the efficacy of glucosamine, so the two nutraceuticals are often used together as a natural dog arthritis treatment.


Exercise is extremely important to improving your dog’s pain because it supports weight loss and improves joint fluid circulation.

All joints- even healthy joints- have poor blood supply. This causes inflammatory mediators to accumulate and trigger ongoing pain. Exercise prevents pain and stiffness by forcing the body to circulate joint fluid with newly oxygenated anti-inflammatory materials.

The best movements to reduce your dog’s pain are low-impact or no-impact options. Swimming is an ideal exercise for arthritic dogs because it provides a wide range of movement without any physical impact on the joints.


Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a naturally occurring substance that grows in the flower of the cannabis plant. The body can interpret signals from CBD and adjust its functions appropriately.

As a result, CBD offers natural medicinal benefits like the ability to decrease anxiety, depression, and pain. Its efficiency in dogs is not yet proven by research, but use in humans demonstrates the potential for CBD to alleviate your furry pal’s chronic pain.

Can I Give My Dog Ibuprofen?

Veterinarians hear this question frequently- Can I give my dog Ibuprofen? Can dogs take Tylenol? 

You may find other articles that claim it’s safe to use Tylenol or Ibuprofen to treat your dog’s chronic pain, but it’s a huge risk to give human medications to animals. The dosages are difficult to calculate, leaving you without any guarantee of safety. Even simple tricks like splitting a single Tylenol pill in half can still elevate your dog’s liver enzymes to dangerous levels.

In fact, we treat pets every year who have overdosed on pain medications like Ibuprofen and Tylenol. A high dose of pain medication, or continued use of low doses, can lead to kidney failure, liver failure, and death. You can protect your dog from these complications by keeping the Ibuprofen and Tylenol locked up for human use only.

Get Your Vet’s Advice

If your dog is exhibiting signs of pain and discomfort, don’t hesitate to call your vet for a professional opinion. Only a vet can provide carefully calculated doses of approved veterinary pain medications for dogs.

Your vet may also suggest an alternative procedure like stem cell therapy to regenerate your dog’s joints and reduce pain naturally. Though your love for your pet may not be enough to take away his pain, natural therapies and committed veterinary support can make all the difference!

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