Can You Give Dogs Over-the-Counter Pain Relief Medications?

Dog Sleeping

The immediate reaction to seeing your dog in pain is to see if there’s anything that you can give to your dog until you are able to take him to the vet. One common question we get from dog owners is whether it is okay to give your dog over-the-counter medications for pain relief. The answer is no.

Are Over-the-Counter Medications Safe for Dogs?

No, you should never give your dog over-the-counter medications or pills that are designed for human consumption. The only time when you can give the dog medication is under the direction of a vet. There are important reasons for not giving your dog pain relief pills.

Over-the-counter pain medications typically fall under two categories: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen. The more familiar names for these drugs are aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and Advil. You probably had these medications at one point in your life.

Dogs that ingest any of the above may be in great danger. For example, NSAIDs work by limiting the production of compounds called prostaglandins, which is the source of the inflammation and pain. Prostaglandins, however, also play an important role in certain body functions such as preventing needless blood clot formations. For dogs, human-use NSAIDs may potentially inhibit too much of the prostaglandins production, which could be devastating for your dog’s health.

Acetaminophens like Tylenol may also have a serious effect on dogs by damaging their livers and lowering the oxygen capacity of the blood. As you can see, the risk of over-the-counter medications is extremely high so it should be kept well away from your dog’s reach.

What Else Can You Give Your Dog for Pain Relief?

We strongly suggest you consult with the vet first, especially if your dog is in major pain. It’s important to understand what’s causing the pain, which isn’t easy for dog owners to know since dogs can’t talk. Until you are able to take the dog the vet, you could try doing the following:

Remain Calm and Composed

Studies have shown that dogs are able to interpret our feelings in a number of ways, such as by monitoring our body language and tone of voice. This means it is possible for dogs to pick up on our anxiety as well. You don’t want your dog to feel even more anxiety and confusion while he is in pain.
We suggest you remain neutral or positive while you are caring for or in the vicinity of a dog that is in pain. Your dog will feel more at ease and will trust that you will be able to take care of him.

Keep the Dog in a Comfortable Area

Let your dog rest in an area where he can be at ease. For example, you can offer a soft dog bed or a thick blanket for the dog to lay on. Place this near an area of warmth as well as a location where you will be able to keep a close eye on the dog.

You may want to also offer the dog an occasional treat while he is calm. This could help keep his spirits up until you are able to take the dog for a vet checkup.

Keep a Record of All Signs and Symptoms

Make it as easy as possible for the vet to diagnose the pain by keeping record of any unusual symptoms your dog is exhibiting. This will help the vet understand the scenarios in which your dog is going through. It may also help to get a sample of your dog’s poop, especially if it is displaying an unusual color.

Disclaimer: The content on is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian when in doubt.

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