Sad-looking Bullmastiff laying on concrete

Healing Their Hurt: What Can You Give Your Dog for Pain?

You know he’s hurting, and the first thing you want to do is reach for the Tylenol. However, your dog’s systems are different from yours — the pulmonary system, the heart, the organs, and such. What takes the edge off your pain will hurt or possibly kill him.

You can’t give your dog anything that would benefit a human. While vets do give dogs aspirin for arthritis and other pain types, it isn’t the same aspirin humans use. A human tablet of aspirin could cause seizures, comas, and in the worst case, your dog’s life.

How Do You Know Your Dog Is in Pain?

A short-coat brown dog lying on a blue and white striped bedspread
Dog resting in the grass

Put some extra blankets, towels, or pillows in his crate. Put his food and water as close to the open door as you can. The object is to make sure he doesn’t move too much until you can get him to the vet the next day. If you have to lift him to carry him outside to potty, then do so.

Because a dog can’t point a paw at the pain or tell us where it is, we must look for clues. Being off his food, whining, snapping and barking or growling if touched, and antisocial behavior are reasonable indications your dog is in pain. Most dog owners can tell when their dog needs help, e.g. when he lays his head on your chest or your lap, looking up at you with a heart-breakingly sad face and eyes.

Medicine That Is Safe for Dogs

Because we can’t give our dogs anything that could benefit us, many companies have developed safe medications for dogs. For example, NSAIDs (like ibuprofen or naproxen) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are now made in doggie strength and have names like carprofen, deracoxib, and meloxicam. 

If the dog’s pain is such that ordinary NSAIDs aren’t doing him any good, then the vet might resort to prescribing steroids. These knock the inflammation out faster than NSAIDs. It’s rare for a vet to prescribe steroids, but it depends on the dog’s pain. 

A selective focus of a brown dog lying on a sofa
Dog sitting near the front door

Anti-depressants help relieve pain in dogs. Many times they are prescribed in addition to some natural remedies such as ginger. Grating ginger root over his food will help the immune system to stop making leukotrienes, which cause inflammation in the first place. 

Cayenne peppers contain capsaicin, which provides heat when rubbed into painful joints, thereby increasing circulation. 

Yucca root contains steroidal elements that relieve joint pain not just in dogs but in humans, too. Ask your vet which herbs and spices will help your dog’s particular ailment, and together you could come up with just the right treatment for him. 

Ask the vet for a prescription after he examines your dog. Many vets can even fill it, but if not, your local pharmacy can. Kmart, Target, Rite Aid, and Walgreens will all fill a pet prescription. 

Final Thoughts

After you get the appropriate medication, you may want to look into diet and exercise changes, physical therapy, and acupuncture. Yes, acupuncture, and for a dog! As the animal ages, his dietary needs change and as the stress on his joints decreases, so will his pain. 

What Can You Give Your Dog for Pain? (Video)


"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them."
--Phil Pastoret

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