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What Can I Give My Dog For Pain [Spoiler Alert: It’s NOT Tylenol]

By Chelsea Hunt-Rivera / May 21, 2018
What Can I Give My Dog For Pain

Is Your Dog in Pain?

Dogs are notorious for hiding any and all pain. For this reason, by the time dogs begin to show signs of discomfort, the condition can be relatively progressed. For pet owners to be able to get their four-legged companion on the road to recovery, they first have to recognize that their dog is in pain and determine what is causing it. Then, they can ask, “What can I give my dog for pain?”.

There are a handful of tell-tale signs that your dog is in distress.

What Can I Give My Dog For Pain


A rapid, unexplainable change in your dog’s “normal” energy level may be a sign that they are hurting or experiencing another health issue.


A clear indication of pain is biting. If your dog is normally not a biter but has recently been biting themselves or nipping at others, they may very well be experiencing a physical distress of some kind.

What Can I Give My Dog For PainThe Tail

Another sign that your dog may be in discomfort is their tail. If your dog’s tail is usually upright and is now constantly between their legs, it could be a sign they are in pain.

The Eyes

Additionally, your dog’s eyes can be a tell-tale sign of pain. Dogs experiencing pain will often have bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils.


Inflammation and swelling are tell-tale signs of injury or disease. If the swelling is visible then there’s a very strong likelihood that the dog is in pain.

What Can I Give My Dog For Pain

What Owners Should NEVER Give Their Dog For Pain

Before we get into the remedies and treatments that are safe for dogs, let’s discuss the human medications that pet owners should never use on their four-legged friends.

The following OTC (over-the-counter) human medications are absolute no’s in regards to treating your dog’s pain:

  • Ibuprofen – found in Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin
  • Acetaminophen – found in Tylenol and many decongestants
  • Naproxen – found in Aleve

NSAIDs for Dogs

Perhaps the most popular OTC painkiller available for purchase is naproxen (found in medications like Aleve). Naproxen is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID). From joint pain associated with arthritis to fever and swelling, NSAIDs treat a wide array of conditions in humans. However, they are incredibly toxic to dogs.

Ibuprofen for DogsWhat Can I Give My Dog For Pain motrin advil

Ibuprofen (an NSAID) is virtually harmless for humans and can treat all kinds of ailments from the common cold to pain caused from a twisted ankle. Mistakenly, pet owners might think that ibuprofen could have the same effect on their dogs when in fact, it could end up killing them.

Aspirin for Dogs | Baby Aspirin for Dogs

Aspirin and baby aspirin are NSAIDs that your veterinarian may prescribe to treat short-term conditions or a minor injury. Additionally, coated aspirin is easier on the dog’s stomach and should always be given with food.

However, aspirin, even baby aspirin, is never prescribed for long-term use because of the high risk of internal bleeding.

Aspirin Dosage for Dogs

If you decide to use aspirin for pain management, your veterinarian will need to go over the appropriate dosage based on the body weight of your dog and the degree of pain that is being treated.

Side Effects of NSAIDs for Dogs

If a dog ingests any of the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, potential side effects include:

Risks of Tylenol for Dogs

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not a NSAID but it’s equally dangerous for your dog. As a result, if your dog ingests a toxic amount of Tylenol, it can destroy their liver cells, cause severe kidney damage, and lead to irreversible tissue damage throughout the body.

For this reason, if you believe your dog has ingested any amount of Tylenol or NSAID, it is incredibly critical that they get to a vet immediately.

Acetaminophen is so toxic for cats that one regular strength Tylenol tablet can result in death.

Natural Pain Meds for Dogs

Luckily, there are many ways that dog owners can forego the harmful adverse reactions of NSAIDs with all natural pain remedies and natural anti-inflammatory medications. These safe ways to manage pain can also be used for dogs who experience forms of chronic pain. Conversely, conventional pain medication should not be used long-term due to the negative side effects that can develop.


Feverfew is a natural remedy to treat inflammation. It is most commonly used by people who suffer from migraines and arthritis. The herb is equally safe and effective in treating pain in dogs and cats.


Skullcap is an effective herbal remedy that eases nerve pain caused by injury or disease.

What Can I Give My Dog For Pain cbd oil for dogs


CBD hemp oil has incredible anti-inflammatory and healing properties that provide a great source of pain relief. Read more about CBD oil for dogs here.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort eases distress associated with muscle bruising, joint injury, and nerve pain.


Comfrey is an herbal supplement known for its pain relieving properties that ease discomfort associated with joint injury and pain.

Additionally, comfrey also speeds cell reproduction making it a great healing source.


The chemical structure of the licorice herb is very similar to that of corticosteroids, but without the negative side effects on the immune system. Licorice is a popular choice in treating arthritis pain.


The anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric is often compared to that of cortisone, but without the potential adverse reactions.

GingerWhat Can I Give My Dog For Pain ginger

Ginger has an antispasmodic property that makes it an effective remedy for stomach and lower back pain.

Additionally, the herbal remedy is known for the benefits it has on the digestive system and its ability to increase circulation in older dogs.


Cayenne has the ability to block pain and increase circulation making it a great option for relieving pain.

Dog owners can purchase cayenne in a cream or ointment form and use it topically or add a pitch of the powdered herb to their dog’s food bowl.


Yucca is an anti-inflammatory that stimulates the body to produce its own natural corticosteroids and corticosteroid-related hormones.


Boswellia is an ingredient in many natural anti-inflammatory and pain remedies. The herb is very effective for arthritis pain.

Devil’s Claw

Devil’s Claw decreases pain quickly and reduces inflammation making it an effective herb for muscle pain and arthritis.

The herb may interact with some pharmaceutical medications, therefore, it is important to consult with your vet before using Devil’s Claw.


Horsetail has the ability to heal connective tissue and bone injuries in addition to post-surgical pain.

Arthritis in Dogs

A huge trend in the herbal supplements we listed was their ability to treat pain associated with arthritis in dogs.

Arthritis simply means inflammation of the joints. However, the condition causes severe pain in dogs and humans alike.

The conventional medication that a vet will most likely prescribe for a dog with arthritis has a long list of potential side effects, some of which sound worse than joint pain.

Luckily, using the aforementioned herbal supplements, pet owners can ease the discomfort of arthritis naturally and safely.

Natural Pain Relief for Dogs with Arthritis

Additionally, the following supplements can specifically treat the physical distress associated with inflammation of the joints.

  • Arnica Montana (Leopards Bane)
  • Rhus Toxicodendron (Poison Ivy)
  • Ruta Graveolens (Rue)
  • Calcarea Carbonica (middle layer of the oyster shell)
  • Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey, Boneset)

The Importance of Diet in Pain Relief

Whether your dog is healing from an injury or experiences chronic pain, a proper diet is extremely important.

Studies show that dogs with poor diets take longer to heal and may not heal entirely. This is because, in order to heal, dogs need quality protein and diets that have sufficient amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. We recommend a species appropriate, raw food diet.

Furthermore, a holistic vet can help formulate a diet plan to aid in healing depending on the particular ailment that your dog is experiencing. For example, to reduce inflammation, a holistic vet may recommend adding omega-3 fats to your dog’s diet.

What Can I Give My Dog For Pain

Pain Management: A Final Thought

In short, we know how upsetting it can be to know that your dog is in pain but not know why or how to fix it. However, a dog’s body is immensely different than your body and what relieves your pain has the potential to cause horrific effects on your dog. Most importantly, do not give your four-legged friend medications that were meant for humans.

There are so many effective alternatives that will naturally and safely ease pain and inflammation in your dog. Nonetheless, if your dog is in distress, it is important to get a proper diagnosis from your vet before beginning any treatment. We understand that a vet visit may not always be cheap. However, ensuring that there is not a serious underlying issue causing the pain can prevent a potentially irreversible diagnosis in the future.

We hope your furry companion feels better soon!


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What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?

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About the author

Chelsea Hunt-Rivera

Dedicated Pet Parent who loves to create amazing content for pet owners and is helping change pet wellness as the Head of Content for Honestpaws.com.