What can I give my dog for arthritis pain over the counter?

It is difficult for dog owners to see their dog writhing in pain. You just want to do something to help him out and get him some respite from the pain. As you get lots of pain relief taking over-the-counter pain medication like aspirin or ibuprofen for your joint pain, the first thought that usually comes to mind is to give your dog one too.

However, this is a grave mistake you should never make. This is because any human and OTC medications can do more harm than good to your dog if given without your veterinarian’s permission. It is especially fatal giving your dog painkillers like Advil, aspirin and Tylenol for the following reasons:

What aspirin does to your dog

Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that works by restricting the functioning of the enzyme cycloxygenase in their body. Though this produces prostaglandins that elevate fever, pain and inflammation, prostaglandins also have other important roles in the dog’s body. For example, it is responsible for maintaining the right blood flow to the kidneys. The mucus layer it produces also protects the gastrointestinal tract’s inner lining from stomach acid and normal blood clotting.

So if your dog is given aspirin, these functions are automatically reduced. This, in turn, can lead to other problems in your dog like intestinal problems like vomiting, diarrhea and appetite loss, bleeding problems and kidney or liver dysfunction in your dog. As the drugs can also lead to death in adverse conditions, dogs should not be given any aspirin, Advil (ibuprofen) or other anti-inflammatory medicine human take.

There are various reasons for dogs developing this problem with NSAID. For some dogs, it may be a high dose, while others may have an adverse reaction to human NSAID brands even if the dog is given the right dosage. And in other cases, dogs develop problems because of the simultaneous use of NSAID with other medications like corticosteroids. It may also be because the dog is suffering from other health conditions like liver and kidney disease

Effects of acetaminophen on your dog

Tylenol or acetaminophen is not advised for dogs because though it does help reduce pain and fever without helping inflammation much, too much of the drug destroys your dog’s liver cells. It can also make hemoglobin convert to methemoglobin which in turn leads to poor oxygen delivery in the body and also possible kidney damage.

Safe canine pain medications

Instead of taking the risk and giving your dog these human NSAIDs and other pain relievers, it is better to give them some canine pain medications many companies have now designed. Examples are carprofen, meloxicam, etodolac and deracoxib which are safer and more effective for your dog than human medication. Your veterinarian will be able to ascertain the right medication and dosage for your dog based on your his health history.

Other natural pain relief options

There are other safe and sustainable treatment options available for your dog. It is not necessary that only pain relief drugs can give pain relief. Inflammatory conditions in dogs also respond well to dietary modifications, supplements, some exercise and various natural remedies.

Natural supplements help

  • For example, including more omega-3 fatty acid supplemented foods like eicosapentaenoic acid and fish oil helps reduce joint inflammation and its associated pain.
  • There are also dog joint supplements like chewable glucosamine chondroitin which with regular use, can help reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis.
  • Your veterinarian may also prescribe glucosamine injections with the tablets if your dog suffers from chronic arthritis and needs immediate and quick relief.
  • As fresh basil also has great anti-inflammatory properties, it’s worth including it to your dog’s diet.
  • Sometimes the cause for your dog’s joint pain may be that he’s not producing sufficient vitamin C. This is when vitamin C supplements can help as its anti-inflammatory properties are helpful at reducing inflammation and the pain to improve joint health. Based on your dog’s size, you can give him anywhere between100-400 IU of vitamin C every day. However, it is also important that you do not overdose on vitamin C as too much of it is bad for cartilage health.

Safe home

You can also make your home safer and more comfortable for your dog by making him sleep on soft bedding and using comfortable and soft rugs and carpets so that he does not feel any pain while sleeping or sitting on them.

It is especially important that the top of hardwood and tiles are covered with rugs, and that you get rid of any slippery or hard surfaces in your house. Not only will bad flooring increase the pain, but the chances of accidents are increased because of low traction.

Weight reduction

Like humans, overweight dogs also get relief from arthritis by reducing their weight. So start some regular exercise for your dog, along with a healthy, low-calorie density diet which should contain his normal amounts of protein.

This way your dog not only reduces weight but at the same time maintains his muscle mass and strength. This is essential as it is not enough for your dog to just lose weight. He needs the muscular mass as it helps reduce the stress on joints and overall body inflammation.


So taking a look at all this, it looks like it is better to use natural supplements, a healthy diet and regular exercise and some joint pain supplements for relief from canine arthritis pain. It is way better than depending on or giving your dog over-the-counter pain medications to treat the condition.

In case it is a really severe case of arthritis, where natural remedies do not prove helpful, then your veterinarian may advise physical therapy, cold laser treatments, acupuncture or some other similar treatment options for pain relief.

So whatever you do, it is better to not give your dog OTC medications but to consult your veterinarian for the right treatment for your dog. He will assess the condition and according to your dog’s age and size depends on the best treatment option for your dog.

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