Dog Pain Management

Dog Pain Management

Pain Relief and Pain Meds for Dogs

As a human being, you have the ability to vocalize and describe the feeling you have when you’re in pain. You can tell the doctor what event caused your pain, where it is, and how badly it hurts. On the other hand, dogs cannot speak to us - their veterinarians - directly to tell us if they hurt themselves catching a frisbee or if their mouth hurts. Luckily, your veterinarian can be an advocate for your dog. He or she can teach you how to recognize when your dog is in pain and come up with a plan for managing it.

Contact a local veterinarian to learn more about the signs of pain in dogs and pain relief for dogs so you can keep your faithful friend from any unnecessary suffering. 

Symptoms That Your Dog Is In Pain

Closely observing your dog’s behavior can tell you if he or she is in pain. Behavioral changes are a common giveaway. Your dog may not be as excited about going outside, may act lethargic, or he or she may even hide in a corner. Oftentimes when dogs are in pain, they have a decreased appetite or no appetite – especially if they have a tooth that hurts. Maybe your dog doesn’t want to eat because of neck pain and bending down for kibble hurts. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior and routine for clues.

Your dog may also give you physical clues to let you know he or she is in pain. Dogs that don’t clean themselves anymore and/or have a poor haircoat are often providing a clue that they aren’t well. Having a hunched posture with ears down is also a sign your dog is in pain. If you go to rub your dog’s stomach or pick your dog up around the abdomen area and he or she yelps, this can be a sign of belly pain. Obvious lameness or an off gait is another sign your dog may be in pain. 

Dog Pain Management

After finding where your dog is painful and the cause of the pain, you and your veterinarian will come up with a treatment plan for managing your dog’s pain and providing dog pain relief based on his or her overall health condition. It is extremely important to let your veterinarian prescribe pain management medications. Do not give your dog any kind of human medication, as it can be extremely detrimental to your dog’s organ function. Advil, for example, is harmful to your dog’s liver and can cause bleeding ulcers in their gastrointestinal system - or even death.


Your veterinarian may want to start your dog on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication, such as Rimadyl, to help with pain and inflammation. This is basically ibuprofen specifically made for dogs. These drugs are very helpful in alleviating pain in many situations, such as postoperative pain or arthritic pain in joints. It is important to follow the directions prescribed by your veterinarian. Giving your dog more than what is directed can be harmful to organ function. NSAIDs are a great pain management tool and this anti-inflammatory for dogs can be given long term. However, because NSAIDs are metabolized through the liver, your veterinarian will want to check liver and kidney values to ensure your dog can remain on the same dose and still metabolize the medication properly. 

Narcotics and Gabapentin

Depending on your dog’s pain and baseline bloodwork, your veterinarian may want to prescribe narcotic pain meds for dogs, such as Tramadol and/or Codeine. These drugs also work best for stomach pain or after orthopedic surgeries to not only help with pain but also to keep your dog calm and resting. Gabapentin is a tool that is becoming more frequently used as well. It’s a great tool for neurologic pain and can also help keep your dog quiet after surgery while alleviating pain. 


If your dog is a breed known for joint problems or hip dysplasia, talk with your veterinarian about starting a joint supplement such as glucosamine. These supplements help dogs’ bodies to produce more cartilage to coat joints, but they aren’t going to alleviate pain. Omega-three fatty acid supplements are also helpful. Consult with your veterinarian before giving any supplements for approval of ingredients.

Laser Therapy

A somewhat new and innovative tool to ask your veterinarian about is laser therapy for pain management. A noninvasive treatment, laser therapy provides pain management by decreasing inflammation in the body and using light to stimulate cell regeneration, which increases blood circulation. It is used for acute injuries like wounds and is a great tool to kick-start the healing process after surgery. Laser therapy is also helpful with chronic arthritis and back pain. The therapy doesn’t hurt your dog; he or she may feel some warmth at the site of the treated area. This treatment works when it is provided on scheduled intervals, especially for arthritic and back pain.

Speak With Your Veterinarian About Your Dog’s Pain Management Needs

Your veterinarian has many tools to manage your dog’s pain. By knowing the signs to watch for, you can be your dog’s advocate by scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian to treat your dog’s pain quickly to help get him or her back to the pooch you know and love.

If you suspect your dog is in pain, reach out to a veterinarian near you to be proactive about ending any suffering your furry friend may be experiencing.