What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?

what can I give my dog for pain
What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?
Why You Need to be Cautious of Human Medications


What Can I Give My Dog for Pain at Home?

I think that we spend most of our time in veterinary school learning about what can go wrong. And, a lot can go wrong with giving your dog human medications for pain. Dogs' bodies are more sensitive to the side effects of human pain medications than we are. You may be trying to help your dog with pain medication and end up causing a serious or even deadly problem. I wish I could be more helpful but...in short, a lot can go wrong.

It is very easy to overdose your dog with human medications. Drug formulations available over the counter are typically sized for adult humans. When you are considering, "what can I give my dog for pain", keep in mind most dogs are significantly smaller than humans. So, it is nearly impossible to grab something out of your medicine cabinet and make it into an appropriate dose for your dog. Many sick and painful dogs are dehydrated, which increases the risk of overdose.

Your dog may have an underlying medical condition or maybe on a medication that could be dangerous when mixed with over-the-counter medication.

pain relief for dogs

"What can I give my dog for pain, why not Ibuprofen"? If you are anything like me, you take Ibuprofen for your pain issues like they are tic-tacs. This common human pain reliever can be found under the brand names of Advil, Nuprin, and Motrin. But, in all of its forms, this drug is not safe for dogs. In addition to its inflammation-reducing effects, Ibuprofen inhibits the blood supply to the stomach and kidneys. This unwanted side effect is very minimal in humans at appropriate doses. Dogs are much more sensitive to these side effects. If a dog ingests Ibuprofen it can cause dangerous GI issues ranging from stomach upset and vomiting to stomach rupture and death. Additionally, ibuprofen can alter blood flow to the kidneys causing kidney failure, and even liver failure. I am not a fan of this drug for dogs under any circumstances. 

Why Can’t I Give My Dog Aspirin? Before we had safer, better drugs just for dogs, veterinarians would prescribe aspirin for canine pain. Aspirin is a little safer than Ibuprofen for dogs, but can also easily cause stomach irritation, bleeding, and rupture. I do not prescribe aspirin for pain in dogs.

Why Can’t I Give My Dog Tylenol? Tylenol (Acetaminophen) does not have much anti-inflammatory activity. In fact, scientists don’t fully understand how acetaminophen works. Tylenol can cause liver damage at inappropriate doses and can cause red blood cell damage.

I wish I had some better news to give you when you are thinking about, what can I give my dog for pain. and a simple way to ease your dog’s pain. By giving human medication to your dog, you may be causing a much bigger problem then you are solving. Before you ever reach for a human medication for your dog, call your vet and ask for their advice.

Wags and Purrs,
Dr. Liz Bales


The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Dr. Liz Bales, has only ever wanted to be a veterinarian. She has such a passion for her job, that she says if she weren’t a vet, she would be studying to become one. She loves “helping pets and the people who love them be happy and healthy!  Helping people translate complicated medical information into practical tips on how to care for, and connect with their pets is the best part of her job” Not just a veterinarian, Dr. Bales shares her passion through writing, giving speeches, and appearing on shows such as Fox and Friends, ABC News, and Cheddar. She has even started her own company, Doc and Phoebe, and invented a revolutionary cat product—the Indoor Hunting Feeder.

Dr. Bales’ favorite quote reflects her love and compassion for animals: “When a human dies there is a bridge they must cross to enter into Heaven. At the head of the bridge waits every animal that human encountered during their lifetime. The animals, based on what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge…and which are turned away.” With this in mind, Dr. Bales tries to live every day by her grandfather’s advice: “These days are precious. Don’t waste them.”

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