Although you have the best intentions for your furry friend, that doesn’t mean you can give it human medication like Excedrin.
Why is human medication dangerous for dogs?
Giving your dog human medication is always tricky due to factors such as dosage, while many drugs meant for humans are toxic and potentially life-threatening to dogs.
If you can’t treat your dog’s pain with human medication, then what can you use? Here’s everything you need to know about choosing effective dog pain relief.
More Reasons To Avoid Giving Human Medication To Dogs
We’ve already mentioned that human medication can be toxic to dogs and should be avoided, but there are other important reasons why you should never give your dog human drugs.
- It’s not easy to figure out the right dosage for your dog. Dogs’ bodies are quite different from human bodies, which is why human dosage won’t work for your dog. There’s a very large risk of your dog getting overdosed.
- Some dogs can be more sensitive to human medication than others. Even if you happen to get the medication dosage right for your dog, you don’t know what sensitivities your dog could experience while on the medication. He or she could end up having a bad reaction to the medication, even if you give them small amounts of it.
- There’s an increased risk of your dog experiencing harm from human medication if he or she is already on other types of medication to treat chronic health conditions. The combination of medication could cause adverse side effects.
There is an exception to the above: sometimes your vet might prescribe your dog human aspirin for pain relief, but this is different because your vet will know what the safe dosage is for your dog and will only prescribe it to your dog if they know it’s safe.
Therefore, never give your dog aspirin, even if it’s the low-dose variety. Aspirin can harm your dog’s stomach lining, which can cause ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues.
Safe Medications You Can Give Your Dog
So, now that you know that you should avoid giving your dog human medication, what can you give him or her for pain relief?
The good news is that you can give dogs NSAIDs that are generally safe because they’re made specifically for dogs.
Some examples of dog NSAIDs include drugs such as:
- Meloxicam (Metacam)
- Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
- Carprofen (Novox/Rimadyl)
- Firocoxib (Previcox)
While the above medications are safe for dogs, you should always monitor your dog to check for any signs that they’re not feeling well on the drug, especially since for some dogs these medications can cause digestive, kidney, or liver problems.
Here’s how to tell that your dog’s experiencing bad side effects on the medication:
- Notice any behavioral changes, such as if the dog doesn’t want to go for walks even if usually he’s always keen to go.
- Notice eating habits. If your dog’s eating less, this could be as a result of medication side effects, such as nausea.
- Look at their skin. Some negative reactions from medication include redness and irritation.
- Notice if they’re vomiting, have diarrhea, or have black stools.
As soon as you notice any of the above side effects, or anything else that’s worrying you, stop giving your dog the medication in question and consult your vet.
What Other Medication Can You Give Your Dog?
If your dog’s got more serious pain, then your vet will be able to prescribe something a little stronger for him or her. The types of medication that your dog might be prescribed include the following:
- Gabapentin: This type of medication is specifically prescribed for dogs who are experiencing pain due to nerve damage. It might also be given to your dog in combination with other types of drugs. You might notice that your dog is a bit sleepier than usual when on this drug, but this should improve after a few days.
- Tramadol: This is a painkiller that’s similar to other opioids. If your dog is old and suffers from regular pain, then this medication might be given to it. It’s good to know that it does come with unpleasant side effects for your dog, such as vomiting or dizziness.
- Amantadine: This medication is suitable to treat pain in dogs that can be caused by disk disease, cancer, and arthritis because it works by blocking neurotransmitters, therefore blocking pain signals.
- Corticosteroids: These include drugs like prednisone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone. They are anti-inflammatories that can decrease allergic, dermatologic, and arthritic pain. It’s worth bearing in mind that they could have long-term side effects, which is why veterinarians prescribe them with caution.
Three Medication Alternatives To Consider
Although medications can help to alleviate your dog’s pain, it’s worth considering that there are alternative pain-relief methods you can try. Of course, it depends on the cause of the pain that your dog is experiencing, but here are some you should ask your vet about.
- Feed your dog omega-3s: If your dog has arthritis, you can alleviate its constant pain by adding more omega-3 fatty acids to his diet. Research that was published in the Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids journal found that fish oil supplements that were given to dogs suffering from osteoarthritis for 12 weeks were found to improve their experiences of pain, lameness, and joint disease.
- Consider dog-friendly supplements: There are also supplements that have been said to assist in offering pain relief to dogs. These include collagen, chondroitin, and glucosamine. Research that was published by Veterinary Journal reports that when 35 dogs were given oral glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate for osteoarthritis of the hips or elbows, it was found to have a positive effect on dogs suffering from that painful health condition.
- Try CBD oil: The use of CBD oil to treat pain has been growing in popularity for human pain, but it has been said to be a natural painkiller for dogs. It’s good to note that it won’t make a pet “high” but it does have calming and pain relief benefits, as Observer reports.
Natural pain relief remedies can seem like a much better alternative to more conventional drugs, especially if you’re worried about your dog experiencing negative side effects. However, you should never give your dog any type of natural pain relief unless you’ve first run it past your vet.
Even natural alternatives for pain relief can be contraindicated for some dogs, such as those that have certain health conditions or are on other types of medication.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that sometimes natural pain relief just won’t be enough to make your dog feel better, which is another good reason why you should consult with your vet before taking your dog’s pain relief into your own hands.
How can you tell that your dog is experiencing pain?
There are ways to tell that your dog is in pain, such as if it’s more vocal than usual, is exhibiting antisocial or even aggressive behavior, is excessively grooming, or is lethargic, not eating, shaking, or restless.
You should always pay attention to any symptoms that aren’t normal for your dog.
Can you give your dog turmeric for pain?
Although the spice turmeric, which comes from the turmeric plant, has become popular for treating human pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it doesn’t get absorbed by dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts so it won’t be able to offer them pain relief.
When dog owners see that their dogs are in pain, they naturally want to help them as quickly as possible.
But, this could cause some dog owners to try to medicate their dogs themselves, which can have tragic consequences. Human medication isn’t safe for dogs. In fact, it can be toxic and cause them to suffer even more by giving them other health problems.
In this article, we’ve looked at why you should avoid giving human medication to dogs, as well as how to find the right dog pain medication so that your dog will feel better and be back to his or her normal self in no time.
Ultimately, if your dog looks like it’s in pain or is just not behaving like their usual self, you should always consult with your vet to have your pooch examined. The quicker you take action, the faster your dog will get relief from whatever’s ailing him.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.