Anti-Inflammatory for Dogs: Helping a Pooch in Pain

By Chelsea Hunt-Rivera / September 24, 2018
man giving pup natural anti inflammatory for dogs

Anti-inflammatory for dogs! At some point, you or your pet may have had to have used an anti-inflammatory for pain relief. Well, in veterinary medicine there are all sorts of anti-inflammatory drugs available for dogs. So, sit tight because today, we’ll be going over everything you need to know about anti-inflammatory for dogs.

What do Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for Dogs Do?

Alright, so you’ve probably been to the vet and are a little confused about anti-inflammatory for dogs. Don’t worry! It’s perfectly normal to wonder about what these drugs are and what do they do. The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of anti-inflammatory for dogs.

The first are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the second are corticosteroids. Both these drugs will be used to treat different levels of inflammation in dogs. However, you’ll often see that a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs are often used for acute problems. While a corticosteroid may be used for a more systemic, chronic illness.

Corticosteroids Vs NSAIDs: Know the Difference!

Corticosteroids are synthetic steroids that are made to mimic certain hormones. For example, cortisone, cortisol, and aldosterone are hormones that are produced naturally in the body. These hormones are often involved in normal inflammation and physiological responses.

Now, there are two major groups of corticosteroids which you may have heard of!

The first is your glucocorticosteroids and the second are your mineralocorticoids. We won’t go into much detail about the function of these steroids but all you really need to know is that steroids are a class of anti-inflammatory for dogs that may be used to treat chronic conditions like Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease in dogs, arthritis, and even auto-immune diseases.

So if steroids do such wonders, then what in the world is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication? Well, we’re glad you’re wondering this! As the name suggests, these are simply anti-inflammatory agents that provide mild analgesia (aka pain relief), are anti-pyretic (aka reduces fevers), and of course, provide anti-inflammatory effects. These drugs do not contain steroids or it’s synthetic derivative.

what can i give my dog for pain, pup with bruise

When Should You Use Anti-Inflammatory for Dogs

Vets often prescribe an anti-inflammatory therapy to dogs and cats suffering from an array of diseases. Because, there are just so many uses for anti-inflammatory drugs, we’ve listed what are the most common uses of anti-inflammatory for dogs.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory for Dogs: Uses

NSAIDs are often used to treat conditions like arthritis in dogs. Arthritis in dogs can be both acute or chronic. The consequences of arthritis in dogs often results in pain and inflammation.

So, it’s fairly common to see arthritic dogs limping on a weight-bearing leg. Sometimes your vet may also choose to use a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory for dogs who suffer from acute soft tissue inflammation. This is because NSAIDs also have pain-relieving effects, and so after a soft tissue surgery—like a spay or neuter—a vet may prescribe a pet NSAIDs for pain relief.

Corticosteroids: Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for Dogs

Corticosteroids may be used to treat a variety of conditions. Most commonly, corticosteroids are used to treat:

  • Severe allergies in dogs: This can include atopic dermatitis, flea allergy dermatitis, and any skin disease that causes severe itching in dogs
  • Immunosuppression (treat the autoimmune disease as well as neoplasias)
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Addisons disease 

Science 101: How Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory for Dogs Works!

The primary mechanism of action to how non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work is fairly complicated. So if you’re really interested in learning more about the science behind the mechanism of this drug, then read on! However, if you just want to skip the science then head to the next section.

NSAIDs mainly act by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX). This enzyme is responsible for the production of other important proteins and compounds like thromboxane, prostacyclin, and various other prostaglandins.
So, when we inhibit the COX enzyme, we will see a great decrease in the compounds like thromboxane, prostacyclin, and prostaglandins.

Now prostaglandins are quite normal in the body. But, when there’s a lot of them produced, then these compounds will begin to cause pain, inflammation, and fever!  However, at the same time, prostaglandins will also make sure there is adequate blood flow to the kidney and liver.

dog reaching for a natural pain meds for dogs

4 Facts You Need to Know About Anti Inflammatory Meds for Dogs

  1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often used to treat common joint problems like osteoarthritis in dogs.
  2. Currently, there are only a handful of anti-inflammatory meds approved for the use in veterinary medicine. These FDA approved drugs are licensed under the names Metacam, Rimadyl, Dermaxx, Previcox, Galliprant, and Onsior.
  3. Metacam tends to be the most commonly used NSAIDs in veterinary medicine. It is safe for cats and is often administered as a subcutaneous injection to control pain and inflammation after surgery.
  4. According to the FDA, there are no drugs that are safe for long-term use in cats. This is because cats often metabolize anti-inflammatory drugs a lot slower than dogs.

Reduce Pain, Keep Doggo Happy! Best Anti Inflammatory for Dogs

The best anti-inflammatory for dogs will always be the ones your vet prescribes to your pet. And, although there are side-effects to the long-term use of anti-inflammatories, a pet should never be denied pain-relief when needed.

Rimadyl, Metacam, and More! Anti Inflammatory Medicine for Dogs

There are many different types of anti-inflammatory medications available for dogs. The majority of the effective anti-inflammatories are often present in veterinary clinics. So, if you have a dog requiring an anti-inflammatory, then only your vet can prescribe the appropriate one.

Some commonly used glucocorticosteroids used in veterinary medicine are:

  • Hydrocortisone
  • Prednisolone
  • Prednisone
  • Methylprednisolone
  • Triamcinolone
  • Betamethasone
  • Dexamethasone

Now, there are also lots of veterinary prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatories available for dogs. Remember, with the exception of a few drugs, you can only get NSAIDs at the vet’s!

  • Aspirin (Salicylate)
  • Carprofen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Flunixin
  • Meloxicam
  • Paracetamol
  • Phenylbutazone, and
  • more!

ibuprofen for dogs

Over The Counter Anti Inflammatory for Dogs

Aspirin and Ibuprofen are over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs that are often used in humans. Aspirin is actually derived from the willow tree. Now, Aspirin can be used in dogs but only when a vet gives you the big “Okay” to do so.

Aspirin is not very potent, but it can cause ulcers in dogs, so it’s best to keep that in mind. In addition, cats are only able to metabolize this drug slowly, therefore it is highly recommended that owners seek vet advice before they decide to give Aspirin to a cat.

Apart from Asprin, another over-the-counter anti-inflammatory for dogs is paracetamol. Now paracetamol is a human NSAID, but it can be used in dogs. However, this non-steroidal drugs can cause adverse effects like kidney and liver failure.

Veterinarians will often advise against the use of Paracetamol in dogs and cats due to the high levels of hepatotoxic metabolites (which means it makes compounds that are toxic to the liver) produced through the metabolism of the drug.

Why Can’t I give my Dog and Cat Human NSAIDs?

Our metabolic and physiologic system is very different from our furry friends and so it’s always very risky to give them a dose of NSAIDs. Some common over-the-counter human NSAIDs include Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, and Aleve. The reason we don’t want to give these drugs to our pets is that:

  • It can metabolize a lot faster and not actually provide any pain relief
  • It can reach high concentrations in the blood of the animal
  • It can cause severe ulceration, liver failure, and kidney failure in pets
  • These human drugs, if given at the wrong dose, can be lethal to pets.

Side Effects When Using Nonsteroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs

As with any drugs, pet owners should always be made aware of the potential adverse reactions of anti-inflammatory agents. Corticosteroids and glucocorticosteroids can lead to:

  • Thinning of skin
  • Increased risk of ulcers
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Similarly, the adverse effects of NSAIDs can include:

  • Gastrointestinal tract ulcers
  • Iron-deficiency anemia due to blood loss
  • Melena
  • Colic (stomach pain)
  • Ulcers in the colon
  • Liver dysfunctions

dog needing natural pain relief for dogs for hurt paw

Choosing A Fresh, Healthy Diet! Anti Inflammatory Diet for Dogs

There are different types of natural anti-inflammatory foods and supplements you can add to your dog’s diet. We highly recommend adding the following:

  • Tumeric
  • CBD oil
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA)
  • Fresh yummy vegetables
  • High-quality proteins

Turmeric, Gingko, and More! Natural Anti Inflammatory for Dogs

Natural anti-inflammatory drugs for dogs seems like an awesome and safe idea! and for the most part, it can be a great alternative. Whether or not, natural anti-inflammatory drugs work is quite debatable. At this point, there is not simply enough scientific data supporting the claims of natural anti-inflammatory.

However, if you do have a dog who is experiencing mild inflammation. This can be seen as a mild joint pain or mild arthritis pain, then there is two natural anti-inflammatory for dogs you can use.

The first is CBD oil for dogs! Without a doubt, there has been a lot of researching showing promising results that CBD oil can be used to treat mild inflammation and arthritis pain in dogs. Joint pain in dogs can be a common problem, for example, young dogs that run a lot may eventually develop joint pain that may be caused by a sprain. In these mild and acute cases, CBD oil for dogs can be quite beneficial.

Now there are many anti-inflammatory foods available. But, turmeric by far, is considered the most effective. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin. This compound has been studied by scientists all over the globe! and it’s widely believed that adding a teaspoon of turmeric to your dog’s diet each day, can be quite helpful!

Keep Fiddo Free from Pain!

The most powerful anti-inflammatory for dogs in pain is veterinarian anti-inflammatory agents! If you have a dog who requires anti-inflammatory drugs, never deny them veterinary care and veterinary medicine. Vet based drugs are designed to provide immediate relief of inflammation and pain.

About the author

Chelsea Hunt-Rivera

Chelsea Rivera is a Dedicated Pet Parent who loves to create amazing content for pet owners and is helping change pet wellness as the Head of Content for