Can I give my dog a pain reliever?

December 20, 2016
Can I give my dog a pain reliever?

During the holiday season, families are often busier than usual—yet this need to get things done is often foiled by more stores and businesses being closed. The holidays are the last time anyone wants to go to the doctor, vet or other specialist. So it can be especially tempting during the holidays to try to take care of any problems on your own.

One common error that people make involving “do-it-yourself” pet care is that they are tempted to give human-grade pain relievers to pets. It’s a natural reaction: when you see your dog limping in pain, you reach for the same pills that you take when hurting. But ibuprofen and other medications made for humans can cause real problems in pets unless they’re administered under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Pain relief for pets and humans

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, often called NSAIDs, are medications used for people and pets to relieve pain, inflammation, arthritis pain and/or fever. NSAIDs include aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen sodium (Aleve, Midol). Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not part of this group (though it also should never be administered without a vet’s approval).

NSAIDs are effective pain reducers used commonly in pet care, including regular use for osteoarthritis, as well as short-term use during recovery from surgery. But the medication given to your pets is different from what humans use—and mixing them up can have dire consequences.

Risks from using human medications on animals

While NSAIDs can provide safe and necessary relief from pain, they can come with harsh side effects, especially when improper doses are given. The most common side effects from using NSAIDs in pets include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduce appetite
  • Reduce activity/lethargy

In extreme and rare cases, NSAIDs can cause intestinal ulcers, kidney failure, liver failure, and even death.

Get medication from your vet only

The chances of side effects are greatly diminished when NSAIDs are prescribed by a veterinarian. NSAIDs prescribed by your veterinarian are safer for the following reasons:

  1. Your vet understands your pets’ medical history and overall health, and will know the correct prescription to suit their needs.
  2. Your vet will prescribe medication intended for animals. Pet-specific NSAIDs have been shown to be safe and effective for animals. Human NSAIDs do not have these same assurances.
  3. Your vet will prescribe NSAIDs that have been proven to be effective specifically for dogs or cats. The drugs are made differently for each species, and are thus safe and proven for that specific animal.

Call your vet – every time

So if you see your dog or cat in pain, call your vet to schedule an appointment. Resist the temptation to give your own medication (or any old, previously prescribed pet medication) to your pet. You don’t want to risk making a bad experience even worse.

During the holidays, pet owners in Spartanburg, Boiling Springs and the surrounding areas can reach Animal Clinic of Woodruff from 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at 864.576.9800. If we are not open, we recommend these local emergency clinics.

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