A class of drugs known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are the main medications used as painkillers for dogs.
. Whenever your dog has injured itself there will almost certainly be some swelling present. If your dog has a laceration or has a thorn in its paw, there will be localized swelling.
Arthritic dogs have swollen and tender joints, so it stands to reason anti-inflammatory drugs are the preferred painkillers for dogs.
If your dog is young and healthy but has a sudden swelling in a joint, it is probably some form of injury. Aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties and can be given in the correct dosage, and the dog immobilized,to give the swollen area a chance to heal.
Aspirin should be given at the dosage of 10mg/ Kg (2.2 lbs) every 12 hours for no more than 3 days. Stomach ulceration has been known to occur if aspirin is given for several days or longer. Under no circumstances should Ibuprofen be given as painkillers for dogs.
If you have an older dog and it appears stiff and is sometimes irritable and not its usual self, there’s a good chance it has some form of arthritis. This is referred to as chronic pain, because it is constant and long lasting.
The onset of arthritis is a gradual process and occurs over a long time. It is an erosive disease of the joints, connective tissue and ligaments. There is currently no cure for arthritis. If correctly diagnosed and managed your dog can lead a relatively happy life. If not treated your dog will have a poor quality of life and will be miserable.
This is why painkillers are so important. Nobody wants to see their “best friend” suffering. Recent studies have revealed that individual dogs perceive pain like humans. That is, there is a “pain threshold”, and like people who have a low “pain threshold”, some dogs feel pain more easily than other dogs.
This has given vets the knowledge to properly administer painkillers, especially for dogs that appear to have a low “pain threshold”. The vet will give your companion a thorough examination and determine where on the pain scale your dog falls. Your Vet has undergone many years of training to obtain his/her qualifications, sometimes even more than your doctor.
Please allow your vet to diagnose and treat your dog. Painkillers are a specialized part of veterinary medicine. Some vets will not stock narcotics on site, because they fear robberies by drug addicts etc. They may give you a prescription to fill at the chemist.
Other Pain Killers
Besides aspirin which is an over the counter (OTC) drug that is readily available from the supermarket or chemist, other painkillers are only available from your vet. These include, but are not limited to;
- Ketoprofen – Some veterinarians advise to use this drug for no more than 5 or 6 days because of the potential for gastro-intestinal bleeding. 1mg/Kg once a day is recommended, however if it is for the long term 0.5 mg/Kg can still be ok.
- Naproxen – Vets are reluctant these days to use Naproxen as painkillers for dogs because of ulceration of the stomach in a lot of dogs.
- Etodolac – This is quite an effective medicine amongst painkillers for dogs. It is used for long term treatments. A possible side effect with this medication is it can reduce the amount of tears produced by your dog and leads to “dry eyes”, and thus, pain and irritation.Keep a close watch on the dog. If your dog is rubbing at his eyes or appears in some discomfort,discontinue the use of Etodolac and call the vet.
- Meloxicam – This drug is useful for acute or sudden onset of pain such as an injury, but not so good for chronic pain (arthritis) where long term lower dosing is necessary.
- Deracoxib – As far as painkillers go, this is a very strong NSAID and has been suspected of being the cause of sudden gastro-intestinal bleeding.
Narcotics As Painkillers
Narcotic medications have been known to medicine for thousands of years. They seem to work best as painkillers for dogs when used in conjunction with Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). One of the possible side-effects of narcotics is addiction, especially if used for long term treatment, such as chronic pain associated with arthritis.
Codeine and Hydrocodone are often prescribed by vets. These two drugs work well if used with NSAIDs. Do not give your pet human narcotic medications, as prescribing painkillers for dogs is best left to a trained professional veterinarian.