None of us likes to see our dogs in pain. But before you give your dog any pain relief, you need to know that it’s safe. So, if you’re asking yourself, what can I give my dog for pain? Can I give my dog ibuprofen? Read on to discover the dangers of giving your dog this popular over-the-counter pain medication.
Like aspirin and naproxen, Ibuprofen is one of several non-prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs.
What are NSAIDs?
NSAIDs are readily available medications that are widely used for pain relief. They have anti-inflammatory and anti-fever properties and are useful in treating many conditions in both people and animals.
NSAIDs work by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), of which there are two types; COX-1 and COX-2. These enzymes help produce prostaglandins – hormones that occur naturally in the body that react to injury or illness.
Prostaglandins cause inflammation, redness, pain, and fever as part of the body’s natural healing process. But they also work hard to protect the stomach lining, help blood clotting and contribute to kidney health.
When you and your dog are in good health, cycloxygenase-1 provides a base level of prostaglandins for the general upkeep of the body. However, when affected by an injury or illness, cyclooxygenase-2 is activated to deliver extra prostaglandins to the damaged or affected areas.
So why do we need NSAIDs? As NSAIDs reduce the production of prostaglandins, they help reduce pain, inflammation, and fever, so they can be invaluable in treating long-term joint conditions like arthritis.
Can I give my dog Ibuprofen?
Because the function of prostaglandins is so vital to your dog’s health, never give your dog human pain relievers, especially NSAIDs.
In fact, NSAIDs are toxic and one of the top ten most common causes of dog poisoning, according to The Pet Poison Helpline.
Symptoms of NSAID poisoning include;
- Loss of appetite
- Black tarry stools
- Blood in stool
- Excessive thirst
- Abdominal pain
- Kidney failure
- Liver damage
So, if you can’t give your dog over-the-counter medications, how do you manage pain in dogs?
Dog Specific NSAIDs for pain relief
While giving your dog Ibuprofen is a big no-no, there are NSAIDs explicitly made for dogs. NSAIDs provide much-needed pain management for dogs that are post-surgery or with long-term conditions such as arthritis,
However, never give your dog pain meds without checking with your veterinarian first. While some pain-relief medicines are available and suitable for dogs, getting the correct dosage is vital, as is monitoring your dog for adverse side effects.
Common dog-specific NSAIDs that are safe to give dogs include;
- Meloxicam (Metacam)
- Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
- Carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl)
- Firocoxib (Previcox)
Although these pain medications are safe for dogs, you must monitor your dog for any of the following side effects.
- Reduced appetite
- Skin issues – scabs/redness/sores
- Changes in stool – black/tarry/blood
- Behavior changes
- Decreased activity
Because NSAIDs reduce the production of Prostaglandins, the protection they provide to the gastrointestinal tract can be lost. Long-term use can lead to damage in the form of ulcers and perforations in the stomach and intestines. There’s a fine line between reducing your dog’s pain and over-medicating your dog, so be safe and take your veterinarian’s advice before medicating your dog.
Are there alternatives?
While the fastest way to provide immediate relief when a dog is in pain is with over-the-counter pain medication, plenty of complementary treatments can provide help with pain relief and long-term discomfort.
Most vets will embrace or at least be open to a conversation regarding alternative treatment. It is worth opening a discussion about whether you can use your chosen therapy alongside more conventional treatments.
Some of the most popular natural supplements for pain relief include;
- Glucosamine – used to relieve the symptoms of arthritis
- Calendula – for skin irritations and infections
- Arnica – helps to ease muscle stiffness and pain
- Ledum – puncture wounds, insect bites, and bruises
- Cantharis – urinary tract infections
Not only that, but therapies such as massage, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, and laser treatments are all viable treatments for pain management. Research your complementary practitioner well if you decide to combine traditional and alternative therapies. Ensure they are competent to work on pets as well as humans. Your veterinarian can offer you recommendations for well-trusted practitioners.
Ibuprofen for dogs, is it safe?
Even if your dog is showing signs of pain, they steer well clear of over-the-counter pain medications for their safety. Unless specifically prescribed by your vet, all human medications should stay in your medicine cabinet well away from your pet.
If you think your dog has accidentally ingested an NSAID, get them to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if they are not showing any apparent symptoms, it doesn’t mean that damage isn’t happening.
It’s never nice to see your dog in pain but keeping them safe is essential. While dog-specific NSAIDs play a crucial role in managing ongoing conditions like arthritis, don’t take the risk of medicating your dog yourself, the danger is far too great.