Our dogs are the best friend we could ever have. We take our roles as dog moms seriously — nothing is too difficult if it helps the health and well-being of our sweet fur babies.
From trips to the dog park to walks to grooming, we do it all. So, it will come as no surprise to anyone that we want the best for our pups 24/7. Seeing our dogs in pain breaks our hearts, and we want to help our pups as fast as we possibly can.
Can we give our pups over-the-counter medications like Tylenol to help in a pinch? It seems easy enough to assume that we can give our pups the same medications we take when we’re feeling icky — but that might not be the best idea.
PAWZ cares about making sure you have the best information for your fur family. We’re going over whether there’s any situation in which we can give our pups Tylenol, alongside some healthy alternatives for dog-friendly pain relief.
How Can I Tell If My Pup Is in Pain?
As a dog mom, you probably have strong instincts about your dog’s health and wellness. If you’re wondering what’s different about your dog lately, they might be in pain.
Sadly, our dogs can’t just use their words and tell us what’s wrong — but thankfully, we can look out for these warning signs to know when it’s time to call the vet:
- Limping constantly
- Taking a lot of breaks when walking (with a limp)
- Moaning or crying
- Licking a spot on their body non-stop
- Growling if you touch a certain area of their body
- Licking your hand when they touch you, trying to get you to stop
- Shaking (usually accompanied by crying)
- Excessive drool
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, you’re probably already on your way to the vet — but is there any way you can help your pup feel better faster?
What Is Tylenol?
Tylenol (AKA, acetaminophen)is a pain reliever and fever reducer that is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug. While some doctors may “prescribe” Tylenol to their human patients, it isn’t something you need a doctor's prescription to buy.
Tylenol is a pain med similar to baby aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl), Deracoxib (Deramaxx), or Meloxicam (Metacam).
While many of these painkillers seem a lot like human medications, they’re not necessarily appropriate for your dog’s health. Talk to your vet before you dig into your medicine cabinet at the first signs of pain — they can help you create a more appropriate treatment plan for your pup.
Why Shouldn’t My Pup Take Tylenol?
When dogs are in pain, the vet will prescribe what is called a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). About 20 years ago, Tylenol was the medicine sometimes prescribed in place of an NSAID. However, with advancements in science and medicine, Tylenol is no longer a drug recommended by vets for dogs in pain.
Why? For the same reasons as humans who overdose on Tylenol — the side effects. Even what we would consider a small or normal dose for us could lead to toxicity in our pups.
We also need to be aware of bottles for our personal use that are left out or open. As little as two pills swallowed by a 50-pound dog can lead to toxicity, kidney damage, damage to the gastrointestinal tract, destruction of red blood cells, or even kidney failure.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Eaten Tylenol?
If your dog does happen to ingest Tylenol, it’s good to know the symptoms and warning signs of toxicity. Although some of these symptoms can be hard to spot, they can be super helpful if you don’t notice your little scamp getting into your medicine cabinet.
The symptoms of toxicity include:
- Intestinal ulcers
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Bleeding disorders
- Kidney dysfunction
- Liver damage
Some of these symptoms and warning signs can also be indicative of other issues. If your fur baby ever has any of these issues, consult your vet — but know Tylenol might be the cause.
What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?
Tylenol might be off the table, but there are plenty of other pain relievers that can help your pup when they’re in pain.
Consult a Vet
Before using any sort of drug for your pets’ pain, consult your vet. They’ll be able to pinpoint the area that’s causing the pain and run diagnostics to determine the cause. Even if you think you know what they’re dealing with or if an old issue seems like it’s coming back, your vet can help you confirm your gut feeling.
Your vet might prescribe different medications like Previcox (Firocoxib) for dogs or try a different tactic to help your dog get over their pain. Even if it is an old ailment rearing its ugly head, your vet may have a new plan to help get your pup back in pawfect shape. That means you shouldn’t give your dog old pain medication that you have leftover unless explicitly told to by your vet.
In addition to medicines prescribed by vets, there are natural supplements and pain treatments that can help your precious angel feel better.
Still consult your vet before giving your fur baby any of these natural remedies — you never know what’s going to interact with their current prescription!
Turmeric is a spice that humans use to manage pain and inflammation. Well, dogs can, too!
As a dog-safe spice, turmeric can be healthily sprinkled onto food or baked into all-natural treats. Either way, dogs can benefit from its ability to help relieve pain and help to keep joints from swelling.
You can add it to older dogs' schedules, but if possible, start it when they’re younger. It can even be used as a preventive measure to keep your pup free from joint issues for longer!
Another great supplement for dogs is fatty acids. Adding an Omega-3 or Omega-6 supplement to your puppy's food can help combat joint pain, especially in dogs who suffer from arthritis. Fatty acids work to reduce swelling and relieve pain, and your fur baby can benefit from the antioxidants as well.
If your little angel suffers from arthritis or seems to be moving slower than usual and you suspect joint pain, consult your vet. You can bring up adding fatty acids to your dog’s diet and they will be able to provide dosage information so your pup can get the most out of these pawsome supplements.
We benefit from CBD ointments, rollers, and gummies — and so can our pets!
There are plenty of pet-safe CBD options on the market that can be mixed into food or baked into treats. You can even buy CBD dog treats from your local stores. CBD for pets has never been more popular, but you should still check in with your veterinarian to make sure it’s the right option for your special buddy.
Other Helpful Remedies
In addition to all-natural remedies that are edible, there are a few physical treatments that can help your pup feel less pain.
Acupuncture helps relieve pain and helps reduce swelling in dogs the same way it works for humans. The acupuncturist will tap into specific pressure points in your dog’s body and paws to help relieve any pain they’re feeling — and it can improve their circulation, to boot! Consult your vet to see if they have a trusted acupuncturist recommendation to work with you and your fur baby.
Dogs can benefit greatly from a massage on any area causing them pain. Just like you benefit from a massage on a knot or tender area, your dog will gain relief and calming sensations from this self-care staple.
Your vet can provide recommendations for a professional massage, but you can also teach yourself how to massage your pup using videos online. Either way, it’s a whole new way to show your pup how much you care and provide them with a little TLC.
Prevention of Pain
While prevention isn’t foolproof, there are steps you can take when your dog is younger that will help manage the risk of pain as they get older.
Getting your pup enough exercise daily will ensure that they are able to stay active as they get older. The more that your pup is stuck in the same space, the less their muscles get a proper workout. Proper amounts of exercise are breed and size-specific. So again, research and consultations with a vet will ensure your fur baby gets enough.
The proper diet according to your dog’s size and target weight is important. This will keep your pup from becoming overweight. Chubby dogs are adorable, but dogs who are overweight have a heightened risk of suffering from joint pain and developing arthritis.
Keep Your Pup Safe
Here at PAWZ, our goal is to help our partners at Best Friends Animal Society turn all shelters in the U.S. no-kill by 2025 — but we also want to make sure pups already in furrever homes are also kept as safe as possible!
We are confident that the information here will help you choose the right pain management path for your pet, so you can get back to games of fetch, snuggles on the couch, and quality time at the dog park. Being a part of the PAWZ family means that we have your back, so you can have theirs!
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