Choosing a Safe Pain Reliever for Dogs

The safest pain reliever for dogs depends on your animal's ailment. Many pet owners opt to use less expensive human medications, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen or NSAIDs, but this isn't always safe. Discover the different possible medications and their potential risks and benefits to understand which to use and which to avoid.

Use of Acetaminophen as a Pain Reliever for Dogs

Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog acetaminophen. The medication is easy to overuse if you don't know the exact safe dosage. Overuse of this pain killer can cause liver and kidney damage.

If your veterinarian does advise you to use acetaminophen over drugs approved for use in dogs, the dosage should never be more than 10 milligrams per pound. In addition, you'll never give more than two or three doses per day or serious side effects could occur.

Giving a Dog Aspirin

Aspirin pain reliever for dogs is frequently used to treat joint pain, reduce fever and help thin the blood. Your veterinarian will advise you to the proper dosage for your dog.

Aspirin is generally considered safe, but there are contraindications. The most important is not to give the medication to a dog with kidney disease. Aspirin slows blood flow to the kidney and can cause extreme harm to an already weakened kidney.

NSAIDs Are a Common Pain Reliever for Dogs

NSAID medications cover the range of anti-inflammatory medications. Aleve is the most common over-the-counter NSAID drug used by humans. While Aleve can be safe for dogs, it's important to first ask your veterinarian. Many veterinarians prefer using other medications because of the risks involved with the use of naproxen.

The medication is not advised for dogs with any blood, kidney or liver disorder. It's also not a good idea to give dogs with gastric ulcers this medication. Use of naproxen in dogs with these problems because it can increase the risk of kidney damage and ulcers.

If naproxen is used, the usual dose is 0.5 to 1.5 milligrams of the medication per pound. The pain reliever for dogs should never be used more than once per day.

Tramadol is a safer NSAID used in dogs. The medication's main side effects are stomach upset and constipation. If your dog takes too much tramadol, lethargy may occur. Stop using the medication and contact your veterinarian.

If your dog is using an NSAID, watch for concerning side effects. They include:

  • Aggression

  • Bloody or blackened stools

  • Lack of appetite or thirst

  • Nausea/vomiting

  • Seizures

  • Urinary changes

  • Yellow skin and gums

Avoiding Ibuprofen to Avoid Poisonings

Ibuprofen (Advil) is used regularly by humans and many pet owners feel it is fine to give the medication to their dog. Sadly, a number of dogs end up hospitalized every year from ibuprofen poisoning. Never give this pain reliever for dogs to your dog without veterinary approval.

Many vets refuse to even suggest using this medication to pet owners because it is far too easy to create an overdose situation. Overdose of ibuprofen causes bleeding stomach ulcers. Anemia will occur without immediate treatment.

If an overdose of ibuprofen occurs, you dog will be hospitalized and given activated charcoal to remove any trace of the medication from the stomach. Blood transfusions are necessary if the anemia is severe.