There are few things more upsetting to a dog owner than knowing that their beloved pet is in pain. The natural reaction is, of course, to want to do whatever is needed to ease that pain as quickly as possible. If your best friend comes back from his walk, and all he wants to do is go lie down on his bed and cry, of course your heart is going to be breaking.
So, what does the typical dog owner do? Well, usually, they call the vet. But if it’s on the weekend, or late at night, the vet may not be available. At that point, many dog owners try to find a way of easing their dog’s pain without veterinary advice – and that is not always a good thing.
OTC for People?
So thinks the compassionate dog owner: Tylenol makes me feel better when I’m in pain. It should work for Heidi. I actually had a call from a friend a few nights ago about her golden Lab, Trixie. They had been out walking together, over the snow and ice, and Trixie cut her paw on some sharp ice. Her mom meant well of course, and she was all set to give Trixie Tylenol. I had to tell her that acetaminophen is the main ingredient in Tylenol, and that it is very toxic to dogs. I suggested a single adult aspirin, which is acetylsalicylic acid, and safe for dogs.
See, the thing is, Heidi is not a human. Her biology is very different. And the medications that will work for her person may not work for her – they could even kill her. And I like to think that I know a fair bit about dogs, but honestly, all I knew in this situation was that aspirin would be okay, but Tylenol would not. As to the complexities of pain relief medication for dogs… well, I’m not a vet and I don’t pretend to be. I knew what was bad. I knew what would be okay. But I didn’t really know what would be best.
Some of the most commonly-used over-the-counter pain remedies that work for people could be very toxic for dogs. They could impair blood flow to the kidneys, cause diarrhea and vomiting, intestinal difficulties, and even liver failure.
Even in a mild dosage, a dog could be very sensitive to medications that might be perfectly fine for humans.
If it sounds like I’m getting a little bit over the top about Tylenol, it’s because I am. The thing with Tylenol is that no one even really knows how it works on humans to relieve pain. What is known is that Tylenol can cause liver damage in humans, and again, no one really knows what constitutes a safe dosage. And no one knows how much is too much for a dog. So, it just makes sense not to use Tylenol for pain relief in dogs. Or, for that matter, maybe in humans. But then I’m not a doctor, and I’m just talking about what I know about dogs.
Oh, and if you have a cat? I know that we’re talking about dogs here, but you should also know that studies have shown that even one Tylenol capsule can kill a cat. This should tell you something about the dangers of trying to medicate your pet with remedies that your vet does not recommend.
Because it is not known how much human pain reliever can be safe for dogs, I strongly recommend that if your dog is in pain, you consult your veterinarian. There is a good possibility that he or she will recommend an over-the-counter pain remedy like aspirin for your dog. The thing is, though, your vet will know how much is safe, and how often it should be administered. Additionally, your vet knows your dog’s medical history, and can advise you as to whether your dog really needs pain medication, or perhaps simply a modification in his or her diet.
Sometimes, as our dogs age, they require constant pain medication for conditions like arthritis. Again, you should see your vet to determine an appropriate course of treatment for your dog.
With knowledge of the specifics of a dog’s health history, the doctor can make a proper diagnosis to determine which medication and dose is most appropriate and design a plan for monitoring that will make treatment as safe as possible. Many vets recommend Excel Aspirin for Dogs. Right now it is available at Amazon.com for just $5.68, down from $7.99, and is eligible for Amazon Prime Shipping.
Keep in mind, though, that medication is not the only way to ease your dog’s pain. A nice massage is always good, and foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also reduce joint inflammation. Overweight dogs also experience more pain than dogs that are at a healthy weight for their age and breed, so make sure that your best friend gets the exercise he or she needs.
Often, a combination of an ideal weight and a good diet will reduce, if not outright eliminate, the need for your dog to have pain medications. If your dog is in pain, before you reach for the pill bottle, talk to your veterinarian. It could be a simple matter of finding the right combination of diet and exercise.
If you do have to resort to pain medications, make sure that they are dog-appropriate. As I have pointed out before, sometimes human pain remedies will work for your dog. But the wrong pain medication can be lethal. You don’t want your dog to be in pain, but you also probably don’t know which medications are best. Neither do I. For minor pain, you can use remedies like I’ve suggested above, but if your dog is experiencing chronic pain, then you have to consult your vet. That is what he’s there for.