Joint Pain Meds for Dogs

Most dog owners have witnessed firsthand the effects of pain on their pets. Although pets aren't able to put their pain and feelings into words, they nevertheless show us their discomfort in other ways. Fortunately, there are a number of pain meds for dogs that can be effective at reducing pain and inflammation caused by a wide variety of different sources. In larger breeds especially, joint pain due to dysplasia, arthritis and other related conditions can prove so detrimental to your pet's overall health that it may render him immobile. The following are some of the types of pain medications used to address joint pain in dogs.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, are medicines that control swelling and inflammation. In arthritis and many other conditions which affect the joints, swelling around a joint itself and in the surrounding ligaments may prove to be the primary source of pain and discomfort. By neutralizing or reducing that swelling, many pet owners have seen a great improvement in their pet's behavior and mobility.

NSAIDs work by reducing the number of prostaglandins generated around the site of the inflammation. These chemicals are responsible for relaying the pain information to your pet's brain and also contribute to the swelling itself. Reducing the levels of these hormones is often effective at lowering the swelling and pain levels.

Some of the most frequently prescribed NSAIDs include Carprofen, Ketoprofen and Meloxicam.


Unlike NSAIDS, corticosteroids make use of naturally-occurring steroid compounds in your pet's body in order to reduce pain. Prednisone and Dexamethasone are two of the most common corticosteroids. These drugs are widely considered to be the most effective medicines available for reducing inflammation and pain in dogs. They are effective in a number of different cases and provide quick results. However, they are dangerous drugs that can also cause powerful negative effects. For this reason, veterinarians generally prescribe corticosteroids in unique cases only, and it is best if you utilize corticosteroids as little as possible and for a short length of time in treating your pet's condition.


Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, is a human-formulated drug that is designed to relieve pain. Unlike NSAIDs, it does not reduce inflammation and swelling. Because of its limited effectiveness in the latter, many veterinarians avoid acetaminophen for use in dogs.


Xylazine is used as an anesthetic in canine surgeries, although it is also occasionally prescribed as a sedative and pain-reducer in other cases as well. It is a drug under the classification of alpha-2 agonist and is most effective when injected directly into the pain site.


Among a variety of drugs that are classified as NMDA receptor blockers, amantadine is the most commonly prescribed for use in canine medicine. These drugs bind to NMDA receptors in your pet's nervous system, effectively reducing their ability to absorb and process pain signals from other locations within the body. Amantadine has specific uses, but it's generally considered to be a highly effective pain medication for dogs.

These are only a few of the many pain medications that can be used to reduce joint pain in dogs. Your pet's condition and prior health will help to dictate exactly which medicine is best for him. Speak with your veterinarian for further information.