Ibuprofen is a go-to painkiller that many people reach for when they’re feeling ill. But what about ibuprofen for dogs? Read on to learn all about the best forms of pain relief for dogs and the natural supplement you can give in its place.
Can Dogs Have Ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is a common pain reliever that is used to treat pain, inflammation and high temperatures in humans. It is one of the most commonly available over-the-counter medications and is available as tablets, liquids, capsules, sprays, creams, and gels.
Common brand names include Advil and Motrin. But ibuprofen for dogs is very different! Although the medicine can be beneficial to dogs, it has a very narrow margin of safety in dogs, and can actually have very harmful effects on dogs and other pets, especially cats, if given in incorrect amounts.
Overdosing on ibuprofen can even be lethal for dogs.
Go the Safer Route with Natural Pain Relief for Dogs
Even medicines specially formulated for dogs can have their side effects, causing some owners to turn to natural remedies to alleviate their dog’s pain.
What Can You Give a Dog for Pain and Swelling?
Vets Preferred create natural supplements that are specially formulated for dogs of different ages, from puppies to adult dogs and senior dogs.
The aim of these supplements is to keep dogs healthy by supplementing their diets with all the minerals and vitamins that minerals they need to be happy, healthy and pain-free.
The natural solutions from Vets Preferred include joint support, building bone density and muscle mass, and anti-inflammatories. The supplements can help to both alleviate arthritis symptoms and to prevent future joint problems from developing in younger dogs.
CBD Oil for Dogs Can Help Your Hurting Pup
Another form of natural pain relief for dogs is cannabidiol or CBD for short. CBD is a compound that is found in cannabis plants, which is believed to help with symptoms including pain, allergies, inflammation, stress, anxiety, and seizures.
Don’t worry though, CBD, which usually comes in an oil form, is completely legal in all 50 states, and can’t get your pet high! There are now a number of companies that offer CBD therapy specially designed for dogs, which many owners swear has helped their pained pups.
Honest Paws creates bespoke packages that can combat any number of conditions, including arthritis, age-related stiffness, anxiety, and more. Their CBD oil for dogs is available as a straight oil, or as delicious, healthy treats that dogs love.
Signs and Symptoms of a Dog in Pain
Before we go into more detail about treating pain in dogs, first it is important to recognize the signs of a dog in pain.
1. Behavioral changes
Has your usually calm and sociable dog suddenly become antisocial or shown signs of aggression? Did you try to touch a part of its body and it snapped at you? These may be signs that your dog is in pain.
2, Changes in Habits
If your dog suddenly loses its appetite, starts sleeping much more or changes the amount of water it’s drinking, these may all be signs of discomfort.
3. Grooming or Licking Excessively
It’s natural and healthy for your dog to clean itself, but if you notice it licking a specific area excessively, this could mean the dog is trying to sooth itself. This is especially common for the paws.
4. Panting/heavy breathing
Shallow breathing may be a sign that it is painful for your dog to draw breath while panting for a dog that is not hot or exercising is often a sign of distress.
Any vocalizing that is out of the ordinary can be a sign of pain. This includes whining, whimpering, yelping and even howling.
Most owners will recognize instantly when their dog is agitated. Pacing, pinned back ears, not settling down, wide eyes… All these are signs of agitation.
7. Mobility problems
Limping or stiffness are very easy to spot, but other signs that your dog might be in pain include a reluctance to exercise or a slowness in getting up.
8. Change in posture
If you notice your dog standing or lying in a different posture, this may be a sign of pain. For example, the “prayer” position, with the front legs on the ground and the bottom raised up, can indicate abdominal pain, while a hunched, rigid stance can show joint pain.
9. Trembling or shaking
Although dogs shake when they’re cold or nervous, they may also shake when they’re in pain. However, tremors can also be a sign of more serious conditions, including poisoning.
Aspirin vs Ibuprofen: OTC Pain Meds for Dogs
As a general rule, you should only give your dog any medication as and when directed by your veterinarian. Aspirin, like ibuprofen for dogs, can be very harmful, especially puppies. It is very easy for a dog to overdose on aspirin or ibuprofen: just 2 tablets may be enough.
Aspirin and ibuprofen are NSAIDs, which is short for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (paracetamol also known as acetaminophen or by the brand name Tylenol is generally not considered an NSAID.)
Drugs of this kind work by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase, which produces prostaglandins. Prostaglandins promote symptoms like fever, inflammation, and pain, so inhibiting them can help to stop these symptoms.
However, prostaglandins also play other important roles in a dog’s body, including promoting regular blood clotting, maintaining blood flow to their kidneys, and keeping the lining of the gastrointestinal tract lined with mucous to protect from damage.
Therefore, inhibiting prostaglandins can also cause nasty adverse reactions in dogs. These may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Irregular bleeding
- Dysfunction of the liver and kidneys
Occasionally, a veterinarian may recommend using aspirin to treat pain in dogs over a short period, for example when the dog is recovering from a surgery. Low-dose aspirin, or baby aspirin as it is also known, is safer to use as it contains a lower dose.
However, you should only give aspirin, whether baby or regular, to your dog if directed by a vet, and only in the recommended quantities. Giving aspirin with food can help to protect your dog’s stomach.
What are These NSAIDs Used for?
Veterinarians will sometimes prescribe ibuprofen for dogs, or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to treat the pain associated with a number of common conditions.
These include elbow and hip dysplasia, various kinds of arthritis, inflammation of the eye, cancer-related pain, dislocated joints, abnormal joint cartilage development, and surgical recovery. Usually, NSAIDs are not used over long periods of time.
Tramadol for Dogs
As with ibuprofen for dogs, and aspirin, tramadol for dogs should only be given according to a veterinarian’s instructions. Tramadol is an “atypical” opioid analgesic, which means it does not have the same risks of addiction associated with other opioids like morphine.
However, it is still possible to get addicted to tramadol, and its sale is closely controlled. Tramadol can treat moderate to severe pain in dogs, though the dog may develop a tolerance to the drug if it is used over a long period to treat chronic pain.
Tramadol for dogs provides pain relief by blocking pain sensors in the brain and increasing serotonin levels.
Hydrocodone is an opiate agonist, similar to morphine. It is more often known by the brand name Vicodin, and is used to treat chronic coughs and bronchitis in dogs, rather than for pain relief. Like tramadol, hydrocodone is closely controlled and may only be prescribed by a veterinarian.
Tramadol Dosage for Dogs
You should only give your dog tramadol when a veterinarian prescribes it. The veterinarian will give specific dosage instructions that will take into account the dog’s size, weight, age, and condition.
The vet will also take into account any other medication that the dog is taking, to ensure that there are no contraindications.
Ibuprofen for Dogs Toxicosis!
If you suspect your dog has ingested ibuprofen, seek immediate veterinary treatment. Ibuprofen for dogs toxicosis is one of the most common forms of poisoning.
This is because the correct dosage is very narrow, and it is easy to accidentally give them too much. The signs of an ibuprofen overdose in dogs can appear within an hour of ingestion and include:
- Gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools (due to stomach bleeding), loss of appetite, abdominal pain and stomach ulcers.
- Ataxia, or loss of coordination
- Weakness in limbs
- Racing heart rate
- Pale mucous membranes and gums
- Kidney problems and even renal failure
- Seizures, loss of consciousness and even entering comas
Most veterinarians will diagnose ibuprofen for dogs toxicosis based on questioning the owner on whether the dog has ingested ibuprofen. They may also need to carry out blood tests or urinalysis to establish toxicosis with certainty.
If your dog ever swallows any medication that it shouldn’t, be sure to take the bottle with you to the vet surgery so they can check the active ingredient list.
Treating Ibuprofen Toxicity in Dogs!
If it is caught quickly, ibuprofen toxicity in dogs may be treated by inducing vomiting. Other treatments include feeding with multiple doses of activated charcoal at regular intervals, which helps to stop the ibuprofen for dogs being absorbed in the intestines.
Gastrointestinal protectants, which help to reduce the damage to the lining of the guts, may also be used. In severe cases, fluid therapy, blood transfusions or even flushing of the stomach may be required.
If it is caught and treated early, many dogs stand a good chance of making a full recovery from ibuprofen toxicosis.
So What Can I Give My Dog for Pain? Pain Meds for Dogs
So far we’ve covered all of the human medication that should not usually be given to dogs. But which pain medications actually work for dogs, and they canine compatible?
To a certain extent, it depends on the kind of pain your dog is in. It also depends on if your dog is on other medications, or if it has any pre-existing conditions, like heart, liver or kidney disease, or diabetes.
Treating pain in dogs is a complicated business, and for this reason, is best left up to a licensed veterinarian.
Arthritis in Dogs: What Can You Give a Dog for Pain in Joints?
Arthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic pain in dogs, especially as they age. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, which can have a number of causes, from disease and infection to immune-system malfunction and simple old age. If left unmanaged, this painful condition can severely impact a dog’s quality of life.
For pain associated with arthritis, especially the pain associated with inflammation, most vets will treat dogs with NSAIDs that are specially formulated for dogs. Popular NSAIDs for dogs include firocoxib (Previcox), carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl), deracoxib (Deramaxx), and meloxicam (Metacam).
Veterinarians may also use chondroprotective agents (CPAs), which are not painkillers, but act as joint protectors, slowing the degeneration of cartilage. CPAs are often used in conjunction with NSAIDs to treat arthritis in dogs. However, NSAIDs are not always suitable for dogs with pre-existing liver, stomach or kidney problems.
In addition to tramadol, gabapentin is another, non-NSAID painkiller that is used to manage pain in dogs. It is especially useful in treating pain from damaged nerves. It may cause drowsiness in dogs, though this usually only lasts a few days.
Why Sometimes Supplements Are Better For Your Furry Friend
Vets will often prescribe supplements that work alongside painkillers to help reduce pain in dogs, especially those suffering from joint problems. The most common pain-relief supplements are glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, fish oils, green-lipped mussel, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).
Vets Preferred Glucosamine for Dogs is a joint supplement that is used in people and dogs alike that is believed to help build and maintain the cartilage in our bodies.
Glucosamine is almost always combined with chondroitin sulfate, which is thought to help regulate the enzymes that damage the cartilage in joints. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate work together to combat cartilage deterioration, as well as maintaining and rebuilding the existing cartilage.
Painkillers for Dogs Should Be Given by a Vet!
It can be very distressing to see your dog in pain, and it’s natural to want to help soothe your pet as soon as possible. But some human medicines, including ibuprofen for dogs, can be very harmful to our canine companions. It is always better to consult with a veterinarian and get an accurate prescription for a dog-specific medicine. Otherwise, your poor pup may end up in more pain than they started in.