13 Things You Can Give A Dog To Treat Pain

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© Karen Dole/Shutterstock.com

Written by Niccoy Walker

Updated: August 8, 2023

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Dogs can be our very best friends. They stick by our side when we are sad, scared, or hurt. So it’s easy to feel helpless when your dog is in pain and needs you to do something. The strongest pain relievers come from veterinarian prescriptions. But there are other options you can provide without going to the vet. Check out this list of things you can give a dog to treat pain, including what you should never give them.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is In Pain?

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To determine whether your dog is in pain, check for a change in behavior.

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A change in behavior is the best determiner of pain in dogs. Our canine pets are excellent at hiding pain, especially chronic pain. But there are clues you can look for and initial tests you can perform. 

How do you know when a dog is suffering? Check for these signs and symptoms:

  • Shaking
  • Aggression
  • Low posture/holding their head below their shoulders
  • Flattened ears
  • Panting/crying
  • Arched back
  • Aversion to touch
  • Excessive licking and scratching of a specific area
  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • Uninterested in play or exercise
  • Not sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite

If your dog seems to be reacting to a specific area, perform a quick inspection and check for its reaction to touch. Look for these reactions and particular symptoms:

  • Flinching
  • Head-turning
  • Crying or other vocalizations
  • Panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Redness and swelling
  • Excessive panting
  • Lip-licking

Strong Pain Relief For Dogs – Prescription Options


Your vet can prescribe strong pain medicine like NSAIDs and opioids.


The strongest pain relief options for your dog will come from the vet in the form of a prescription. You and your veterinarian will decide on the best course of treatment, but here are the most common prescriptions drugs you can give a dog to treat pain.

  1. NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory drugs that relieve pain by decreasing inflammation. While you can find these over-the-counter, it’s essential that you consult your vet and get a proper prescription.
  2. Opioids are for severe pain and work by blocking pain receptors sent from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. 
  3. CBD supplements don’t typically require a prescription, but they are not regulated by the FDA and should be given to your dog under the direction and recommendation of a physician. Dogs with nervous system disorders may benefit from these supplements.

What Can I Give My Dog For Pain Without Going To The Vet?

Dog receiving therapy on injured knee

Provide cold and heat therapy and gentle massages at home.


While we recommend taking your dog to the vet when they are in pain, we realize that may not be an option for everyone. Try these at-home remedies to help with your dog’s pain.

  1. Hot or cold compresses are a quick and effective treatment, especially for dogs with arthritis or other joint and muscle pain. Use a cold compress for immediate injuries like muscle strains. And use heat therapy for general aches and pains, such as stiffness, ear infections, toothaches, and muscle injuries.
  2. Gently massage the affected area to reduce inflammation and pain.
  3. Provide a quiet, comfortable place to rest. Like humans, dogs also need peace and a nice place to sleep so their bodies can heal.
  4. If your dog’s pain comes from excessive weight, you may want to adjust its diet and include light exercise.

Alternative Pain Management For Dogs

Some dogs may live with chronic pain and need more specialized and unique care. Consider researching some alternative therapies that can help improve your dog’s quality of life.

  1. Chiropractic care realigns the musculoskeletal system, which improves mobility and reduces pain.
  2. Physical therapy enhances strength and mobility while reducing pain. These therapies typically include light exercises.
  3. Laser therapy stimulates the healing process, improves wound healing, and decreases pain and inflammation.
  4. Therapeutic ultrasounds stretch fibrous tissue, which can help improve pain and range of motion around joints.
  5. Electrical stimulation is a low-risk procedure that helps heal injured muscles quickly.
  6. Acupuncture can be used to treat arthritis and joint inflammation in dogs. This therapy can provide long-lasting pain relief from injuries and illnesses.

What Pain Medicine Should You Never Give Dogs?

It may be tempting to give your dog human pain medication and supplements, but there are many things you must avoid giving your pet without proper medical direction. Even if a dog can technically take the same medication as humans, the dosage will be different, and humans have dissimilar metabolisms. 

Never give your dog over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These medications can cause severe complications, such as stomach bleeding, liver failure, and kidney failure. You must always consult a veterinarian before giving your pet any kind of pain medication, including supplements.

Summary Of 13 Things You Can Give A Dog To Treat Pain

RankPain Treatment
3CBD supplements
4Hot or cold compresses
5Gentle massage
6Provide a quiet, comfortable place to rest
7Adjust its diet and include light exercise
8Chiropractic Care
9Physical Therapy
10Laser Therapy
11Therapeutic Ultrasounds
12Electrical Stimulation

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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