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What can you give a dog for pain relief?

We know that it can be tempting to reach for human pain meds when you think your dog is in pain, but it is essential to resist the temptation to give your dog medications designed for people except under the guidance of your veterinarian. Our Madison vets explain why.

Do Not Give Your Dog Human Medications

You love your dog, and when you think they aren't feeling well or possibly hurt, it can be tempting to reach for medications that you find helpful in these situations, but it's important to resist this temptation. Before giving your dog any human medications it is essential to contact your vet for guidance.

Many pain medications considered safe for people can be toxic or even fatal for dogs.

Never give your dog aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or any other medication designed for humans without first consulting your vet.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs otherwise known as NSAIDs include products such as baby aspirin, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Although these medications can be very helpful in relieving human pain, NSAIDS can lead to a number of adverse side effects in dogs including:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal ulsers
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Never give your dog aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen or any other anti-inflammatory medications meant for humans without first consulting your veterinarian.

Acetaminophen & Dogs

Although acetaminophen (Tylenol) does not fall under the category of NSAIDs it can also be dangerous to give to dogs. This medication should only be given to your dog under the strict guidance of your veterinarian.

The ingestion of toxic amounts of acetaminophen can destroy your dog's liver cells, damage kidneys and negatively impact your dog's natural oxygen delivery system, possibly leading to widespread tissue damage. 

Signs of acetaminophen toxicity in dogs include:

  • Lack of energy, lethargy and depressed mood
  • Swollen face or paws
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Blue, brown, or yellow gums
  • Vomiting and dehydration
If your dog has ingested Tylenol (or another brand of acetaminophen) or is showing any of the symptoms above contact your vet right away or head to your nearest animal emergency hospital.

Signs of Pain in Dogs

While some signs of pain in dogs can be obvious, such as limping or whining, other signs of pain are much less obvious. If your canine companion is showing any of the following symptoms there is a chance that they may be experiencing pain.

  • Limping
  • Whining or yelping
  • Reduced enjoyment at playtime
  • Spending more time sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Tail tucked under or lowered
  • Reluctance to jump up or climb stairs
  • Notable decrease in appetite

Pain Meds for Dogs

If you believe that your dog is in pain it is essential to contact your vet. 

Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe a pain medicine formulated for dogs, in the correct dosage based on your dog's size. Your vet will be able to advise you of possible side effects to watch for and can help to make your dog's pain treatment as safe as possible.

Depending on the cause of your dog's pain, your vet may be able to recommend other effective treatments for your pooch such as physical therapy, acupuncture, cold laser therapy or even something as simple as a change of diet, crate rest, or a modified exercise plan.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you believe your dog is in pain contact our Madison veterinarians right away. Our vets at Best Friends Animal Hospital can diagnose the cause of your pup's discomfort and prescribe appropriate medications to help relieve your dog's pain.

New Patients Welcome

Best Friends Animal Hospital is always accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary team is passionate about the health and comfort of companion animals. Get in touch today to learn about the difference our expertise makes.

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