If dogs could talk, pet owners’ lives would be much easier. Unfortunately, our furry friends speak in barks and can’t say if they’re hurt, leaving it up to their humans to figure out their needs. Since pups are part of the family, their humans are always searching for the safest and most effective pain relief for dogs.

So what kinds of pain relief meds are safe for dogs? There are a lot of options to consider when your pup is in pain – from natural alternatives to a prescribed painkiller for dogs – so it’s important to research the best choice for your pal. As always, we recommend checking with your vet before you provide your dog painkillers in any form.

How to Tell if a Dog is in Pain

Brown dog laying on the blanket

Our dogs may not be able to speak up if something is wrong, but luckily not everything is a total mystery. Much like humans, there are physical and behavioral signs your pup will most likely display if they are hurting and in pain.

Below are some physical signs your dog is in pain:

  • Red, dilated eyes
  • Changes in posture
  • Changes in tail movement
  • Swelling on any part of their body

You can’t always tell if a dog is injured or hurt by their physical appearance. Sometimes mood and behavior changes are indications that something is wrong.

For dogs, behavioral changes can include:

  • A decrease in appetite
  • Avoidance of activity or playing with toys
  • Sudden loss of normal control, resulting in more accidents
  • Constant grooming
  • More barking
  • Excessive panting
  • Difficulty moving

But before you go searching for over-the-counter (OTC) pain meds for dogs, make sure your furry friend is in need of medication and treatment. Always be aware of any deviations from normal behavior, because even the slightest change in temperament or appearance could be a sign of a more serious issue. Seemingly minor behavior changes in dogs, like loss of appetite, could actually be a sign of liver and kidney failure.

If you’re unsure about whether your dog is in pain, consult your veterinarian immediately. When it comes to your pet’s health, it’s better safe than sorry.

Can a Dog Take Advil or Tylenol?

Many kinds of painkiller pills

It can be emotionally draining to know your dog is suffering, and in desperate times you might be tempted to reach for the closest bottle of Advil for your dog. After all, it’s safe for most of us humans to take some ibuprofen when we experience aches and pains.

But is it safe for dogs to ingest Advil and other human painkillers?

In short: No. Just because it’s safe for humans to take OTC medications like ibuprofen doesn’t mean dogs can too. Aspirin dosages for dogs can be very difficult to determine, making overdosing far too easy. Common over-the-counter meds like Aspirin, Advil, and Tylenol haven’t been approved for veterinary usage since proper studies have yet to be conducted to establish safe dosages.

To be safe, never give your dog any of these household medications:

  • Ibuprofen (commonly found in Motrin, Advil, and Nuprin)
  • Acetaminophen (found in Tylenol and other decongestants)
  • Naproxen (common in medications like Aleve)

Since we don’t know how much aspirin for dogs is safe, it’s best not to let your dog have any at all. Dogs eating Advil and other OTC medications can be extremely dangerous and possibly fatal.

If your dog does ingest ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, or other medication, take them to an emergency veterinarian immediately. Symptoms of painkiller poisoning are vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, internal bleeding, ulcers, anemia, irregular heartbeat, depression, and black or dark-colored feces.

There are specialized meds for dogs with arthritis and anxiety that can be prescribed by your veterinarian, so never try to figure out dosages yourself. In the event your dog does ingest human medication, go to the vet immediately.

What to Give Your Dog for Pain

Brown dog lying on the bed with stuffed toy


Even though OTC human pain meds are off limits for dogs, there are plenty of veterinarian-approved painkillers. If your fluffy pal is in pain, these medications are generally safe for them to consume with your veterinarian’s approval:

  • Steroids
  • Opiates
  • Antidepressants
  • Nutraceuticals

Veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) are normally the best choice for dogs in pain. Deramaxx, Previcox, Metacam, and Rimadyl are a few common medications prescribed for pain relief. Even though your dog can ingest these meds, you still should consult your vet before allowing your dog to consume them.

In addition to prescribed meds, there are also natural options for pain relief as well. And since these are all-natural choices, they don’t need to be prescribed and are generally safe to give your dog in recommended doses:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Yucca root
  • CBD oil

Some medications and natural alternatives are just temporary fixes. Always consult a veterinarian if you think your dog is injured or sick.

Staying Ahead of the Pain

Short dog on jetty

As our dogs age, they become more prone to aching and other painful ailments, like arthritis. And of course, no one is safe from unexpected and unavoidable incidents. The best way to ensure your dog stays pain-free is to make sure they’re always covered.

Prudent Pet offers a wide-range of coverage, so you know you can provide the best medication for your pup in the event of an illness or accident, as well as preventive medication throughout the year.

Don’t try to diagnose and prescribe treatment for your furry friend yourself. If your dog has pet insurance, you can have peace of mind that they can receive the best possible care, so you’re never scrambling to find the proper medication. Fetch a free pet insurance quote today and get your pup covered with dog insurance today!

The information provided on this website is made available for educational purposes only. It should in no way be substituted for professional veterinary assessment of each individual patient by a suitably qualified veterinary surgeon or veterinarian.