Piet Hellemans

Medically Reviewed By

Piet Hellemans, DVM
Veterinarian & Veterinary Consultant

Dogs are just as sensitive to pain and discomfort as humans. If your dog is displaying symptoms of pain, you should make a point of contacting your vet. While there are many available options for treating canine pain, you need to be careful not to overmedicate your dog. They will be able to determine the best medications you can use to treat the condition.

Many human painkillers may have adverse reactions to your dog and may even be lethal. Therefore, you should be very careful with the dosage and should select the correct drugs.

You should closely watch your dog for any reactions. In case of any changes, visit the veterinarian for additional assessments.

How can I tell that my dog is in pain?

Often, dog owners are unable to tell that their pets require pain relief for dogs. It may be easier to tell that the dog is suffering if they are sick or injured. You should also check your dog’s behaviour to see whether they have become more aggressive or antisocial. If they don’t seem excited to see you, they may be in pain.

Understanding the different types of pain, your dog may be experiencing can help you determine what kind of medication will work best for them. Here are some signs and symptoms of pain that your dog may exhibit.

  • Antisocial or aggressive behaviour
  • A change in the dog’s diet, drinking, and sleeping habit
  • Increased vocalisation such as yelping, growling and crying
  • Heavy panting or altered breathing with an increased heart rate
  • The dogs are sensitive to touch
  • They become grumpy and can snap at you
  • They may be too quiet, less active, or hide
  • They limp and are reluctant to walk
  • Your canine friend stops eating and becomes depressed
  • Shaking or trembling

A dog that is in pain will also suffer mobility issues, and this can be seen in limping or stiffness. Usually, mobility issues result from arthritis and sore paws, but also from other injuries such as hip or elbow dysplasia.

The bottom line is; if your canine friend is behaving unusual, you should check them for pain. Take them to the vet to prevent the issues from escalating.

Types of pain in dogs

Musculoskeletal Pain

This kind of pain is usually associated with an injury to a joint, muscle or ligament due to overuse, poor nutrition or another medical condition for which the dog is being treated. Always remember that joint pain translates to musculoskeletal pain.

Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is caused when there’s damage to the nerves in your dog’s body. It can result from several different reasons such as nerve injury, degenerative myelopathy, spinal cord problems or another condition that has impaired his nervous system.

Nociceptive Pain

Pain from nociceptive issues is generally caused by nerve responses to a stimulus within your canine friend’s body. Like humans, different areas of the dog’s body have different kinds of receptors that can send pain signals to your dog’s brain. Nociceptive pain is the discomfort the dog gets when something hurts him in one place, but he cannot identify where it hurts precisely.

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Can I give my dog human pain medication?

You should never give your dog a human pain reliever and should generally try to ensure that these medications are not within your dog’s reach. Human medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs can have harmful or even fatal reactions in your dog.

Can I give my dog Ibuprofen?

No. A single ibuprofen tablet of 200mg is enough to cause adverse reactions in your pet, and this can lead to damage to the kidneys and stomach. Some symptoms that will be displayed when your dog takes this pain relief medication include weakness, lethargy, and a lack of appetite.

Can I give my dog Paracetamol?

Avoid that. With paracetamol, your dog would need to ingest a 500mg tablet to display adverse reactions. On rare occasions, vets may prescribe paracetamol for dogs, but these human medications have to be administered carefully and in accordance with the vet’s advice.

Whenever you give your pet paracetamol, you should make sure you add it to your dog’s diet. You should stop giving the drug if the dog starts to vomit. Experienced dog owners may be able to give their dogs paracetamol without a vet’s recommendation, but this should never be done for more than five days.

Can I give my dog Aspirin?

Aspirin may be tolerated better by dogs, but it should also be administered only when recommended by a vet. It is worth noting that most young dogs cannot tolerate aspirin as they don’t have the necessary enzymes to process the pain relief medication.

Whenever vets prescribe aspirin for dogs, they will recommend that the medication is used for limited amounts of time. In most cases, the dosage will range from 10 to 40 mg per kg, and this may be altered depending on the dog’s health condition. Even after confirming the dosage from your vet, you will need to find out which type of aspirin you should give to your pet. For example, you should not give your pet pain relief medications that are coated with enteric as this will not be digested by the dog. The result is that the entire tablet will simply pass through the dog.

What are the risks of giving human painkillers to dogs?

One of the key risks of human pain relief medications is that they can hinder the production of prostaglandins, a substance that protects the organs of your dog. Without this substance, the flow of blood to your dog’s kidneys will be hindered, and blood may end up clotting. The inner linings of the stomach will also remain unprotected without prostaglandins. The result would be the development of intestinal problems and bleeding disorders. Your dog may also display symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite. The kidneys and liver of your dog may also fail.

If your dog seems to have taken pain relief medications, you should contact your vet immediately, and make sure you provide all the necessary details regarding your pet. If you know how much medication they ingested, as well as the type, you should give this information to your vet as it will determine how serious the situation is. Also, your vet may need to know the weight of your dog.

When treating poisoning, your vet is likely to start by inducing vomiting. This should ideally be done within two hours of ingesting the medication. The dog may also need to be placed on a drip, especially if they ingested large amounts of human medication. Your vet may also administer antidotes or liver protection medications, depending on the severity of the situation.

What can I actually give my dog for pain?

The answer depends on the type of pain your dog is experiencing. If it has not been diagnosed with a specific condition that is causing it pain and only has occasional aches you can think about supplementing their diet with some doggy supplements containing hemp oil or other nutritious ingredients. These can help boost their overall health.

In all other cases, simply listen to your vet. They will prescribe the correct treatment. When speaking to your vet, you should let them know whether or not the dog is pregnant. Also, be sure to mention any other medications they may be taking.

Acupuncture

This is one of the newest treatments that are effective with most dog owners. It is among the few holistic and natural remedies to manage pain for dogs. This alternative treatment can take away pain and inflammation caused by injuries. It uses sharp needles inserted into your dog’s skin at specific points that affect their overall dog’s health and well-being.

When treating your dog with this method, it is important to look for a veterinarian who has experience in the area to get your dog’s pain relief started on the right path to recovery.

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David is our expert for all things concerning CBD and your four-legged friends. Animals often need special attention and care and that's David’s specialty, but he’s also an expert in all CBD topics, so whatever your question, he's happy to help.

Piet Hellemans, DVM
Veterinarian & Veterinary Consultant | + posts

Piet Hellemans, DVM has been a veterinarian since 2006 and currently practices in and around Amsterdam. He graduated from Universiteit Utrecht, earning his degree in Veterinary Medicine. He also works as a veterinary consultant and advises companies, individuals, and foundations on promoting animal welfare. In recent years, he’s become a strong advocate for the use of CBD on pets and has written numerous articles on other websites extolling its properties.

Piet is an advocate for the NatuPet brand and fact-checks our content, so we are sure to provide our readers with accurate information.

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