Canines hide their pain instinctively, which is much different from the way humans respond to pain. According to research, dogs who are severely injured may not act like they are in front of a crowd. This is because they suppress pain signals to protect themselves from their surroundings.
Historical research suggests that in a pack, the display of weakness and pain can put a dog at risk of getting beat down. This natural instinct to hide pain has been carried for generations which lead humans to believe that dogs don’t feel as humans do. But there isn’t any proof supporting this fact.
Research makes it clear that long-term pain in dogs can have a negative impact on their body. Your dog can benefit from certain kinds of medication, such as NSAIDs or natural supplements, for pain relief. But are they safe? Based on my findings, prescribing any kind of medication without a veterinarian’s consent is out of question. You need to consult with a specialist before giving your dog any kind of painkillers, even if they are pet-friendly.
With that in mind, here are the different kinds of medication and foods you can give your dog for short-term pain relief. If you’re dealing with long-term pain relief, contact the veterinarian for further assistance.
You can give adult dogs aspirin for short-term pain relief. Puppies have a sensitive gastrointestinal system which may not be ready to break down the substances in an aspirin tablet.
If your dog is suffering from an injury, pain is inevitable. Giving a human painkiller like aspirin is completely safe for dogs. But you need to make sure you’re giving your dog the right dosage. The wrong dosage can lead to side-effects that might worsen your dog’s preexisting health condition. (1)
Aspirin is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or a NSAID. It is used to treat pain, inflammation, and oxidative stress in dogs. But only after it has been approved by a veterinarian. Giving any medication, without the consent of a veterinarian, to your dog is not the right decision. It may harm your dog’s life or worsen her pain.
Aspirin has proven health benefits for reducing osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal inflammation in the dogs. It reduces pain associated with these serious health conditions.
The veterinarian-approved dosage of aspirin 10 to 40 mg per kilogram body weight in dogs. (2)
Aspirin has many side-effects such as nausea, irregular bowel movements, and vomiting. And its overdose can also cause loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, seizure, and hemorrhage. So give aspirin to your dog wisely and with the consent of a veterinarian. (3)
Alfalfa has long since been used as herbal medicine for both humans and dogs. It comes packed with proteins, vitamins, calcium, beta-carotene, and magnesium. It also contains the powerful antioxidants- chlorophyll- which help in reducing inflammation and processing fat-soluble nutrients in the body.
Studies suggest that alfalfa has nutritional powers to fight arthritis and arthritis pain. It is one of the best and most effective treatments for arthritis in older dogs.
Using a pinch of alfalfa per kilogram of body weight is sufficient to help reduce pain and discomfort.
It’s best to use alfalfa before it blooms. And do not use the seeds as they contain substances that could lead to blood disorders in dogs. The seeds of alfalfa contain a toxic compound which contains L-canavanine. This compound might trigger an allergic reaction if your dog is sensitive to the environment.
You can also opt for organic alfalfa powder and mix it in meat-based foods. Do not mix the powdered form of alfalfa with dry food as that can make your dog extremely thirsty post-meals.
The bottom line is that alfalfa contains many anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants that relieve pain associated with age-related diseases, including arthritis. It increases mobility, relieves stiffness, and increases quality of life. This is an important factor to consider for reducing pain. (4,5)
Dramamine is an antihistamine which has medical benefits for dogs. Traditionally, it is used to treat motion sickness and reduce feelings of nausea in dogs. Dramamine contains an active ingredient called dimenhydrinate. This ingredient is the less powerful version of diphenhydramine, which is Benadryl.
Benadryl is commonly used for dogs to treat allergies. It is an antihistamine to induce sleepiness, prevent nausea, and motion sickness in dogs.
Dramamine, being an antihistamine, has the ability to suppress histamines from entering cell receptors. It also contains a milt stimulant chlorotheophylline which promotes drowsiness and induces sleep in dogs. Science suggests that these factors help reduce pain from injuries, wounds, arthritis, and other health conditions.
But you could be putting your dog at risk if you prescribe this over-the-counter medication without the consent of your veterinarian. Dramamine is traditionally a human-intended drug, so its application for dogs can have certain side-effects. Such as urinary retention, dry mouth, vomiting, weight loss, and extreme drowsiness. (6)
If your dog suffers from a health condition such as heart disease, bladder disease, hyperthyroidism, seizures, or high blood pressure, do not prescribe this medication.
Dramamine is available in stores in the form of tablets and liquid form. If your dog is unwilling to take the medication orally, Dramamine is also available in injectable forms. So taking your dog to the veterinarian is essential.
Glucosamine is a natural supplement prescribed to dogs for joint pain relief. It’s a popular supplement for older dogs as it helps repair muscles, cartilage, and body tissues. As your dog gets older, every part of her body follows a “slowing down” process. Which impacts your dog’s physical and mental activity including concentration, mobility, stamina, etc.
Glucosamine has anti-inflammatory effects which reduce pain associated with joint diseases. Glucosamine is a natural substance found in dogs, especially in high amounts in cartilage. By giving your dog glucosamine supplements, you are boosting joint health and preventing the risk of arthritis and other bone disorders. (7)
Many studies also suggest that glucosamine reduces soreness, swelling, and discomfort related to arthritic diseases. (8)
On the plus side, glucosamine is an inexpensive and healthier preventative measure for pain relief. It has no side-effects, unlike other pain medication. And it is less likely to react with your dog’s dietary intake.
If your dog has a heart condition or any other disease, glucosamine does not react with any kind of medication. But you need to consult with your veterinarian before prescribing glucosamine to your dog.
Gabapentin works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter to reduce nerve pain. In humans, it is used to treat neuropathic pain, malignant pain, seizures, and complex regional pain. In dogs, this neurotransmitter has far-reaching effects for treating chronic nerve pain.
Most veterinarians prescribe gabapentin along with other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compounds, in lower doses, for its neuropathic pain-reducing effects. But, gabapentin, prescribed on its own, is a good therapy for dogs with chronic arthritic pain or malignant pain.
When given orally, it has an effect within 2 hours. Gabapentin is absorbed in the duodenum and metabolized in the liver. The extracts are finally removed from the kidneys with no conflicting clinical side-effects. (9)
It impacts the central nervous system for treating seizures and anxiety. It does so by reducing the secretion of excitatory neurotransmitters responsible for inducing pain in the nervous system. It doesn’t eliminate pain, unlike a painkiller, but it reduces the intensity of it by altering the way nerves respond to unusual activity. The “unusual activity” is generally referred to arthritic pain, immobility, and aging in dogs.
Continued dosage of gabapentin may have certain side-effects such as sedation, restlessness, or wobbliness. If you think you dog is experiencing such discomfort after administration, contact your veterinarian immediately for further inspection. (10)
Another naturally-occurring compound effective at reducing neuropathic pain in dogs is cannabinoids. It is present in coneflower, kava root, and black pepper. You will also fine cannabinoid supplements for medical use. But to make sure that cannabinoids are right for your pooch, consulting the veterinarian is essential.
According to one study, cannabinoids have analgesic effects to reduce inflammation and pain associated with a weak immune and nervous system. Although the use of cannabinoids is not conclusive in reducing neuropathic pain, it does help inhibit cell receptors responsible for pain and inflammation.
A recent meta-analysis found that the presence of cannabinoids has a direct effect on cell receptors in the body. It inhibits the activation of certain cell receptors responsible for decreasing dopamine, glutamate, GABA receptors, and anti-oxidative compounds in the brain. (11,12)
So the intake of cannabinoids for chronic pain, nerve pain, or age-related pain can prove effective for dogs.
The use of amantadine, along with the implementation of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is an effective way to offer pain relief in dogs with osteoarthritis. Amantadine is an antiviral supplement that is used, in combination with other drugs, for relieving chronic pain.
Amantadine interacts with the nervous system for the inhibition of NMDA receptors that promote pain and physical discomfort. It works for reducing pain associated with injury, wounds, muscle soreness, anxiety, and nerve pain.
Studies suggest that amantadine can also be used for reducing pain associated with disk disease, cancer, and declaw surgery in dogs. (13)
In a study of 31 domestic dogs with pelvic limb lameness disease, analgesic medication such as amantadine along with an NSAID was prescribed to the dogs. The assessments were carried out for 42 days. And the outcome proved that dogs prescribed with amantadine showed signs of better recovery and pain relief from osteoarthritic disease. (14)
The intake of NSAID alone in the management of pain relief for dogs remains ineffective.
Everyone knows about the many health benefits of turmeric for humans. But it’s a common therapeutic and nutritious agent for pain relief for dogs too. Turmeric has long since been used as an Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of arthritis and other kinds of pain.
In fact, turmeric has anti-inflammatory, anticancerous, and pain-preventing properties. Giving your dog turmeric is only effective when mixed with your dog’s food. You can also make baked turmeric treats for your dog.
It’s important to mix turmeric with a meat-based or fat-based diet. This is because turmeric is not easy to digest on its own.
Latest studies have shown that turmeric can reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis. In a group study comprising of randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled subjects, it was concluded that turmeric reduces joint pain and lameness in the management of osteoarthritis pain. (15)
This overall assessment proves that small portions of turmeric is effective in the prevention of pain and physical discomfort. However, turmeric overdose can cause gallbladder and digestive problems in dogs. It may also lead to dizziness, nausea, and iron deficiency. So consulting your veterinarian before feeding turmeric for pain relief is recommended.
Carprofen is an over-the-counter and NSAID medication. This medicine is FDA-approved for dogs for short-term pain relief. Similar to carprofen, other FDA-approved drugs for canines also include deracoxib, etodolac, and meloxicam.
Being an anti-inflammatory drug, it has characteristic analgesic and antipyretic properties. It interacts with receptors that induce pain, acute, and chronic inflammatory reactions in the body.
Studies have also concluded that carprofen has a positive impact on the body’s immune and humoral responses. It inhibits effects of prostaglandin biosynthesis associated with osteoarthritis and all muscle-related post-surgery pain. (16)
Carprofen works for reducing pain in dogs, but it does have possible side-effects. The most common ones include diarrhea, ulcers, and stomach pain. Carprofen is generally recommended post blood testing, this helps reduce the risk of carprofen poisoning in dogs. Consulting your veterinarian before prescribing this medicine is the right way to go.
Licorice and its root has far-reaching medicinal properties for dogs and cats. One of its most effective health benefits is in the management of arthritis and arthritic pain. Licorice contains saponins, glycosides, and flavonoids which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
It acts fast to reduce inflammation in the body while preventing pain receptors from growing out of control. This is especially helpful in older dogs with arthritic symptoms. It also reduces swelling, lameness, and soreness associated with bone issues.
When treated orally, licorice root also detoxifies the gastrointestinal tract and restricts itchiness and redness associated with allergies. It suppresses the immune reaction related with inflammation and pain.
According to research, the main factors responsible for physical discomfort in dogs are inflammatory. So the suppression of inflammatory reactions in the body is necessary for pain relief. This is possible with herbal licorice diet. (17)
11. Sweet Potatoes
There are certain kinds of foods that have the same health effect on dogs as humans. One such food is sweet potato. It contains powerful antioxidants such as beta-carotene that fight inflammation. More importantly, there also contain amino acids which help build lean muscle mass.
Sweet potatoes have been natural healers for centuries. Along with yams, they contain powerful carotenoids to minimize inflammation and strengthen immunity. They help chronic pain associated with all kinds of health conditions, including arthritis. (18)
Chronic pain in dogs can be difficult as dogs are unable to communicate as humans. So they experience such pain in silence which can often go unnoticed. Managing neuropathic pain in dogs can be made effective with the help of sweet potatoes.
This also includes arthritic pain, immobility, and soreness associated with age-related diseases.
Mixing a small portion of ginger in your dog’s food can reduce inflammation. It has an effect on managing rheumatoid arthritis. Plus, it also possesses joint-restorative and joint-protective properties in dogs.
According to one analysis, ginger inhibits joint swelling and streptococcal cell wall-induced arthritis in rheumatoid arthritis. It contains essential oils that reduce joint inflammation and joint destruction. (19)
Ginger also reduces muscle pain caused as a result of intense physical exercise. This is necessary for older dogs who suffer from muscle loss. Osteoarthritis patients often experience muscle pain due to muscle weakness and stiffness. (20)
The bottom line is that the use of ginger for the treatment of pain in dogs is backed by many clinical trials.it offers anti-inflammatory support in treating arthritic pain and muscle loss in dogs.
Managing Pain in Dogs
There are many kinds of medication and natural foods that you can give your dog for pain. With better understanding of pain management in dogs, pet parents can do much when dealing with different kinds of pain such as arthritis pain, chronic nerve pain, or injury pain.
According to one report, pain in dogs is defined as an unpleasant and emotionally-affecting experience that is related to tissue damage. This tissue damage in dogs may be actual or potential based on your dog’s preexisting health condition. Unlike humans, dogs respond differently to different kinds of pain.
For example, you might see a limping dog wagging his tail, but he has a fractured limb. The same may be the case for a dog who constantly howls because of pain. So the first thing you need to do as a pet parent is to recognize the pain.
Recognizing your dog’s pain is a matter of keen observation. Is your dog behaving in an unusual manner, all of a sudden? Is she whimpering and unwilling to stand up from her bed? Is she relaying signs of aggression at any one of your family members? Is she reacting negatively to going for a walk outside or to affection?
These are not just random behavioral changes in your dog. It actually means something and that is your dog trying to communicate with you. If these subtle changes are hard to put down, further pain management assistance is needed. And for that you must contact the veterinarian immediately.
The next step is treating pain is laying down all your options for pain management. Apart from changing your dog’s diet to help repair damaged tissues and wounds, can you rely on effective medication to assist pain relief?
There are many over-the-counter, NSAID, and holistic alternatives to treat pain. However, when using such medication is it also important to consult your veterinarian about the side-effects and dosage needs. If you’re planning on prescribing long-term pain medication, discussing the pros and cons of painkillers or even non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is important.
Canines have a weaker immune system so their reaction to new medication for pain relief may be subtle or extremely severe.
Wrapping It Up
There are 3 kinds of pain in dogs: acute, chronic, and post-operative. One of the biggest challenges for any pet parent is determining whether your dog is suffering from acute or chronic pain. This is mainly due to the fact that dogs hide their pain and lack the ability to communicate their pain.
Dogs that experience chronic pain may show signs of depression, restlessness, aggression, or loss of appetite. They may even stop sleeping and bite or grab your hand when you’re trying to pet them.
You can do plenty to treat and manage acute or chronic pain in dogs. Regardless, consulting your veterinarian for medical attention for treating and managing pain is necessary. Make sure you create a comfortable living environment for your dog. Stuff like a warm and cozy bed can drastically influence the way your dog feels pain, especially if the pain is post-operative.
That said, if the primary reason for your dog’s pain is weight gain along with joint problems, reducing her calorie-intake is essential. Going on a weight reduction diet with the help of natural supplements and foods can reduce joint pain.
Upon prescribing a pain medication, it’s also important to keep your dog under observation to check if she is having a negative reaction after administration. Most pet parents overlook this step because they assume painkillers are safe for dogs as much as humans.
If your dog has multiple allergies or a sensitive stomach, she might react negatively towards certain kinds of medication. If you want to know the best ways to treat dog pain naturally, try feeding her fruits such as papaya, sweet potatoes, licorice, or ginger. The body requires antioxidants as much as vitamins to fight pain, repair tissue damage, and fighting arthritic pain in older dogs.