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Seeing your dog in pain is a distressing situation but think twice before giving dogs pain medication made for humans. There are specific drugs designed to manage dogs' pain that are safer and more effective, so let’s take a deeper look into how to tell whether your dog actually is in pain, which drugs are safe and which are dangerous, and what are the best holistic options for treating your dog.

Animals feel pain differently than humans. With humans, pain is an “up front” stimulus. That means that no matter what we do, our pain is always at the forefront of our minds. It almost always takes precedence over anything else going on in our lives.

However, animals are different. When it comes to masking pain, dogs are real masters. Hiding pain is instinctual for canines and goes back to their wild ancestor. Namely, when living in the wild, showing signs of pain is dangerous and makes the dog vulnerable to attacks and losing its social rank within the pack. Think about how a dog suddenly goes from limping to a full flight run if he sees a squirrel. That’s because his mind “pushed” the pain away. If the dog’s ancestors didn’t catch that squirrel, they didn’t eat.


Some signs of pain in dogs include:

  • Limping
  • Excessive grooming or licking
  • Aggression or agitation
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased sleep or difficulty sleeping
  • Reluctance to jump or climb stairs
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • A sagging tail or a tail tucked between the legs
  • Vocalizations (yelping, whining, groaning, or howling)
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Heavy or labored breathing

Sadly, by the time a dog starts showing symptoms of pain, whatever condition they’re suffering from might have significantly progressed. For this reason, it's crucial to take your pet to the vet at any sign of distress, if only to rule out serious health conditions.


People often ask,“what can you give a dog for pain relief over the counter?” The answer- nothing, at least not without talking to your vet. Giving your dog pain medications is not something you should decide on your own. You need the advice of your trusted veterinarian as well as guidance in terms of usage instructions (dosage and frequency).

Here are some of the more frequently used meds for managing pain in dogs:

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for Dogs. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is an NSAID with fever-reducing, pain control, and anti-clotting properties. It can be used to manage pain, inflammation, and fever. However, the use of aspirin in dogs needs to be carefully monitored by a veterinarian.

Perhaps more effective than aspirin, there are NSAIDs explicitly formulated for dogs. They are perfectly safe but require a veterinary prescription. The most popular NSAIDs for dogs are:

  • Carprofen (Rimadyl, Novox)
  • Meloxicam (Metacam)
  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • Firocoxib (Previcox)

Tramadol for Dogs. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid used for managing moderate and severe pain of either acute or chronic nature. Tramadol is a schedule IV-controlled substance and must be used with extra caution. The top three causes for prescribing Tramadol in dogs include chronic osteoarthritis, cancer pain, and postoperative pain.

Gabapentin for Dogs. Gabapentin is helpful for managing pain, seizures, and anxiety in dogs. In pain management, it has an adjunctive role meaning it is used to boost the anti-pain properties of other medications.

While giving your dog these medications will help with pain, it is also important to be mindful of their potential side effects. Some reported side effects of traditional pain medications for dogs include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Convulsions or seizures

Veterinarians are well aware of the potential side effects associated with conventional pain medications. Therefore, before writing a prescription, they carefully evaluate the dog’s overall situation to determine whether the pros of the medication outweigh the cons.

CAUTION: Here are some of the human NSAID pain medications you must NEVER give your dog:

  • Advil or Motrin (ibuprophen)
  • Aleve (naproxen)

The severity of the situation following ingestion of the above depends on the dog’s size and amount of human medication consumed. In general, these are the side effects of NSAID toxicity you can expect:

  • Digestive upset (vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach ulcers)
  • Kidney failure (the risk is greater in dogs with pre-existing issues)
  • Central nervous system problems (depression, seizures, coma)

In addition, you must NEVER give your dog Tylenol (acetaminophen), a non-aspirin pain reliever. In people, it is used to manage pain and fever. However, Tylenol is toxic for pets and must never be given. High acetaminophen doses in dogs can cause irreversible damage to tissues and organs (liver and kidneys) throughout the body.


As more and more pet owners are turning to natural, holistic pain management options, you might be wondering if they are a good fit for your dog. Here is a short review of some of the most popular holistic methods for managing pain.

CBD Oil for Dogs. CBD oil can help dogs deal with pain and discomfort on various levels. Plus, while managing pain, Cannabidiol will support the dog’s overall health. CBD is an anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-depressive pain reliever. Experts advise people who want to use CBD-derived products to ensure that they can trust their source. Improper labeling and faulty manufacturing processes can expose people to contaminants or THC in CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD oil.

Broad Spectrum Hemp Oil. In recent years, exciting clinical research has emerged about the properties of broad spectrum hemp oil for dogs. Many people have found great success using it along with more traditional supplements like glucosamine and omega-3. Broad spectrum hemp oil is available in an oil format, or can be given as a chew as well. It differs from CBD oil in that it is made from only the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant, rather than the stalks, leaves and flowers of the hemp plant.

Boswellia for Dogs. Although known for years, Boswellia became more popular recently, when its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties were thoroughly researched. It can help with inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease. It can also speed up healing from infections and prevent auto immune disease.

Turmeric for Dogs. Science has shown that turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, which can treat pain in dogs. Some recent studies in human have suggested turmeric may offer relief similar to Advil/Motrin but without the toxicity. Since dogs are not big fans of turmeric’s spicy taste, it is best to use supplements, or make your own dog treats with turmeric. Turmeric contains curcumin, a proven anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. This makes it perfect for dogs with painful inflammatory conditions, like arthritis.

Fish Oil or Coconut Oil: If your dog is struggling with joint pain, certain fatty oils can help with joint pain. These oils are also excellent for your dog’s coat, skin, and overall health. Both fish oil and coconut oil have a range of benefits. Scientific research shows that these oils, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can reduce pain associated with arthritis and joint disease in dogs, as well as reduce inflammation. Add some fish oil or coconut oil to your dog’s food, or buy them treats that include healthy oils. Alternatively, you can make your own dog treats enriched with oil. Consider the oil’s calories in the context of your Greyhound’s overall diet.

Ginger can stop the nervous system from producing leukotrienes, which cause inflammation. Ginger can also improve circulation. Small amounts of raw ginger can be added to your dog’s food. Yet, it can be a blood thinner, so it should be avoided before surgery. It may also lower blood pressure or sugar levels, so talk to your vet before use if your dog has any health issues that may be negatively impacted by these possible side effects.

Glucosamine/chondroitin and MSM. These three nutrients are the go-to for most dog parents who start to observe wear and tear on their dog’s joints. Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM have all been shown to reduce inflammation in dogs with arthritis.


One of the best natural pain relievers for your canine companion, especially if they have hip dysplasia or arthritis, is physical therapy and exercise. Exercise keeps the joint functioning and helps prevent muscle loss, which places more stress on joints. Their pain will only worsen if they lie around all the time. Just walking is a great exercise.

Non-weight-bearing exercises like swimming or hydrotherapy are a great way to maintain muscle tone when dealing with other painful issues, such as recovering from orthopedic surgery or degenerative bone disease.


Canine massage therapy can comfort your Greyhound and help improve blood circulation, loosen stiff muscles, and provide relaxation. There are some techniques you can learn to do yourself. With your veterinarian's guidance, you can give your dog a massage to help with dog sore muscles symptoms. This will help reduce inflammation and help with muscle pain. If your dog is feeling anxious, start with a soft massage at the skull or tail base. Be gentle and use a light touch. Press and rub in a circular motion on and around the affected area, using gentle strokes in areas of soreness. Continue if your dog seems content, but if he seems upset, stop the treatment.

Only use massage for minor soft tissue or joint issues and never use for serious injury, as that could exacerbate the problem.


Acupuncture helps to stimulate the body’s own anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing responses. The tiny needles involved stimulate nerves, blood vessels, and lymphatic bundles to improve blood flow, release pain-fighting enkephalins, and reduce inflammation. While it may not be a great option for dogs who dislike being handled, it can be a great supplemental treatment program that may bring your dog a lot of pain relief.


Heat and cold therapy help increase blood flow, similar to massage. Heat works by increasing circulation which can help with overall healing speed. Cold works by decreasing circulation which helps decrease inflammation. Because these work in different ways, alternating the therapies is often beneficial.

For example, a painful joint is already swollen, so applying heat on its own may cause increased swelling. However, by first applying cold and then alternating with heat, you can both relieve swelling and promote healing.

Simply find a comfortable spot with your pup and apply the hot or cold compress to the painful area, leaving it on for about 15 minutes at a time. Remember, always wrap your packs in a thin cloth to help protect the skin from the higher or lower temperature of your packs.

You can make your own heat pack at home using a tube sock filled with uncooked white rice. To warm it, heat it in the microwave and then shake to evenly distribute heat, checking the temperature before applying it to your dog's sore muscles. Commercial heating pads for sports injuries can also be used but be mindful to follow instructions carefully to avoid burning your dog's skin.

To make a cold compress, freeze a damp wash cloth in a plastic zip bag. As mentioned above, wrap it in a cloth before applying to the sore area.


Let’s not forget the power of the love between you and your Greyhound. When it comes to dogs, never underestimate the power of snuggles. There are a lot of methods we can use to ease our dog’s pain, but one of the most tried and true methods of all is just being with him. Although there is no medical proof that snuggling helps with easing pain, any dog owner will tell you that it does.

Also, don’t forget the ability for a dog to “push back” the pain he’s experiencing. If he’s being snuggled and petted, his mind will focus less on any pain that he’s experiencing.



There are several meds for dogs designed specifically for pain control and these are much safer and more effective than human drugs.

Giving dogs non-prescribed drugs can result in accidental poisoning and even cause kidney failure. If your dog shows signs that they’re in pain, they should be examined by a vet. The vet will determine what is causing the pain and prescribe adequate therapy.

If you are interested in trying natural pain relief options, ask your vet for advice on which methods are best for your dog’s condition. These include homeopathic medicines, supplements, and certain beneficial foods.

Make your houndie feel better with gentle massage, heat/cold therapy, exercise, acupuncture, and even hanging out on the sofa watching Animal Planet. Don’t ever underestimate the power of being with their favorite people.

If you have suggestions on what has worked to comfort your Greyhound, please share in the comments below.


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