Is there a safe over the counter pain reliever that I can give my dog?

April 13, 2012

Dogs similar to us humans, experience pain too. A dog owner would not just stand by seeing the pet in pain. Pet parents are cautioned against giving the pet human medications. However, in a pitch, it will be understandable if the owner would reach for drugs specifically formulated for humans just to help the pet. A dog whining and trembling in pain would be a pitiful sight. Vets would advise the giving of the medication before the pain gets severe. A pet parent would usually open the medicine chest and reach for the human medication that can effectively alleviate the pain. The pet owner means well but the human medication can have harmful effects to the pet. Are there any over the counter medications that can be safely given to the dog?

Pain can be temporary or chronic. The pain that devastates the dog can result from injuries that damage the muscles, the bones and vital organs. Dogs are very active animals thus it is not unheard of for the pet to suffer from pain resulting from accidents. Dogs can suffer from chronic pain associated with muscles and skeletal problems too. It is not unusual for aging dogs to be weighed down by arthritic pains. Pain medications are necessary not only to save the pet from further discomfort but also because pain can interfere with the dog’s immune system. When this happens infections will set in so that the healing process of wounds and incisions in case of surgery will be slowed down.

Pain medications are called analgesics. While there are a lot of analgesics human beings can choose from, only very few of these drugs can be safely given to a dog. To a large extent, the anatomy and the physiology of dogs are similar to humans. Human medications often have counterparts in veterinary medicine. This does not mean though that any pharmaceutical product for humans can be safely given to the pet. Some of these over the counter medications can have fatal effects on the dog. For humans, over the counter medications are supposed to have less side effects thus they can be used even without prescription. These OTC medications do have side effects on animals thus dog owners have to be very careful in giving these drugs to the pet.

Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs are widely used pain medication in humans. These drugs are frequently used to medicate animals in pain. Drugs that do not contain cortisone include aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen. Among these NSAIDs, aspirin is considered to be the safest for dogs. Aspirin is commonly given to dogs suffering from arthritis because of its anti inflammatory properties. Aspirin was first marketed by the Bayer Company in 1899. From that time on the drug was widely used as an anti-inflammatory drug both for humans and dogs. Aspirin can be purchased over the counter in various forms. Aspirin comes in plain, buffered or enteric coated formulations. Rectal suppositories and topical creams are available as well. 10 mg per pound of body weight can be given twice a day. Pain is reduced in 1 to 2 hours after aspirin is administered.

An aspirin regimen is safer as compared to other analgesics. Aspirin was not approved by FDA to be used on pets because of the known side effects. Adverse effects can be lessened by limiting the administration of the drug to five days. Aspirin is processed by the liver and eliminated by the kidneys in about 7 days making this drug hard on the dog’s stomach. Expected adverse effects are stomach irritation that can lead to ulcerations in severe cases. Giving the dog aspirin must be stopped immediately if the dog is passing black stool and the vomit appears like coffee grounds as these are indications of stomach bleeding.

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