Pain Medication for Dogs

Finding pain medication for dogs which can provide quick, safe relief is important when Fido or Fifi is in pain or distress.

About dog pain medication

When the question is 'What can I give my dog for pain?' the first person to ask is your veterinarian.

ALWAYS check with him/her before you Fido anything that hasn't been prescribed for him, or that is a 'human' drug.

There are several pain relievers that have been specifically designed for dogs.

When given according to the directions and recommendations these dog-approved medications are usually both safe, and effective (although side-effects, both minor and major, are possible).

You can also give some over-the-counter products.

But it's very, very, important to get the dosage right on these - and to give the minimum effective dose for the shortest possible duration.

Let's take a closer look at the options for dog pain relief medications.

Click on any link below to jump directly to a specific section, or simply scroll down to see full article.

OTC Pain Medication For Dogs

This is where many pet owners turn to the products that are already in their homes.

Doing this is generally okay if you do some research first and understand which 'human medicines' are safe to use on dogs, and which aren't.

But there are some medicines that shouldn't be given to dogs (or cats) and going ahead and dosing your dog without checking first could lead to tragedy.

Here's a quick look at which otc 'people pain medicines' you may be able to use, BUT there's a caveat here too...

Certain medications can be contra-indicated if your pet has specific health conditions or is taking other medicines.

If you have a young puppy, a pregnant female, or your dog has ANY chronic or acute health problems, never give him/her any medication without specific approval/recommendation from your veterinarian!

'PM' formulas (such as Tylenol PM) contain the active ingredient Diphenydramine HCI which has a mild sedative effect.

It's also found in products like Benadryl which make us sleepy.

Although Diphenydramine isn't approved for use in dogs, veterinarian's are often comfortable prescribing  it (and SOME medications which contain it). 

Most pain medications which have a 'PM' formula are not really suitable for pets, NEVER use them for your dog without first consulting your veterinarian.

Can I Give My Dog Aspirin?

Aspirin can be used reasonably safely as a pain medication for dogs.

It also reduces swelling and inflammation and reduces a fever.

Buffered Aspirin is the absolute best choice, as regular formulas can cause stomach irritation.

It can usually be used as a short-term treatment for minor aches and pains, but it's important to be very careful about the dosage.

Click here to learn all about using aspirin safely to treat your pet.

You'll find info. on the different types and strengths of tablets, side-effects, contra-indications and how to find dog-specific formulas.


Flexpet uses the same ingredients that are found in Flexcin for humans, and it's more than just a pain reliever.

It also reduces inflammation and lubricates joints.

This allows dogs (and cats) with conditions such as arthritis can move more freely, while helping to relieve the associated pain.

This medication is a simple chewable tablet and your dog can take it every day, for as long as he needs it. Money back guarantee.

Click here to learn more about this product - including a closer look at ingredients, and dog-owner reviews.

Can I Give My Dog Tylenol?

Most experts advise that you don't give Tylenol (Acetaminophen) to a dog.

This is because:

  • It isn't considered to be an effective pain medications for dogs
  • It can be toxic to dogs in high doses
  • Sometimes even lower doses can also cause serious problems.

Always check with your vet before giving Tylenol to your dog and if your vet gives you the 'go ahead' be extremely careful about the dosage.

Tylenol dosage for dogs - Regular Tylenol dosage is 5mg per pound of body weight, given 3 times a day (ie once every 8 hours).

Side effects of Tylenol in dogs - serious side effects that can occur after giving a dog Tylenol are usually seen as kidney or liver damage.

This damage may not be obvious immediately and can NOT be reversed, so it's best to avoid the risk altogether in my opinion!

Can I Give My Dog Ibuprofen?

The short answer to this question is:

'No, you cannot give Ibuprofen to your dog. Ever.'

As Ibuprofen is the active ingredient in brand-name products such as Motril and Advil, they are also not safe to give to your dog.

Can I Give My Dog Aleve?

Again, the answer is 'No'.

Aleve is not safe to give to your dog.

If you give your dog Ibuprofen or Aleve by mistake, or if he somehow gets a tub from your purse or off the table and ingests some tablets, it's ESSENTIAL that you get him veterinary help right away.

Your vet may be able to prevent him from absorbing a toxic amount of the medication if you get him help quickly enough, so in this type of situation never take a 'wait and see' attitude - get professional help ASAP.

Prescription Pain Medication For Dogs

Some of the most popular prescription dog medications designed to treat pain and/or inflammation include Rimadyl for Dogs , Deramaxx for Dogs , Previcox for Dogs and Adequan Canine.

All but one of these are are NSAID's (non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs) and are used to help relieve the pain and discomfort of conditions such as arthritis.

They also reduce a fever.

Adequan is not an NSAID nor is it, strictly speaking, a drug.

It's derived from natural sources and minimally altered in a lab. 

It works in a similar way to most NSAIDs to treat joint pain and inflammation, and is given by injection, rather than orally.

You can only this type of pain relief for dogs with a prescription from your veterinarian.

Before your dog is prescribed many of these medications, full blood work and a thorough health assessment will be made by your vet - and regular lab tests will be taken and monitored for the duration of time they're being taken.

This is to check for any side-effects which may not be noticeable externally, but are causing trouble internally (such as kidney or liver damage).

If your dog has had surgery, he will likely be started on a pain-killer while still in the veterinary hospital, and sent home with some more meds to make sure he stays comfortable until he's started to heal.

If you have a dog with a chronic condition which causes pain (such as arthritis, hip dysplasia and other degenerative bone/joint problems for example), then you will probably need some dog pain meds on a long-term basis.

Companies who produce NSAID pain medications for dogs provide FDA approved 'Client Information Sheets' which should come with every bottle or packet.

Make sure that you read it thoroughly because it has important information on dosage, interactions, side effects etc.

Here's a quick look at the most popular prescription pain relief for dogs:


AKA Carprofen, this was the first NSAID made available for use in dogs here in the USA.

icon icon

Rimadyl is often considered to be one of the most popular pain medicines used to treat the swelling, stiffness and joint pain associated with arthritis in dogs.

It's also available in a generic form known as Novox which is available as a caplet only.

Rimadyl comes in caplets or chewable tablets of 25mg, 50mg or 75mg strength. There is also a liquid solution which can be injected.

In the years since it first hit the market, the popularity of Rimadyl has decreased, in large part because of the number, and nature, of the side-effects it can cause.

Some of the benefits of giving your dog Rimadyl is that it has a lower risk of causing the internal bleeding, irritation and damage, that can be associated with older NSAID's such as Aspirin. 

BUT more serious side effects can take their place. These include liver damage and seizures. 

Although it is still considered to be an appropriate treatment for chronic and/or severe arthritis, it's not recommended as a general pain reliever in other situations.

Side effects can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy (extreme tiredness)
  • Eye irritation/dryness
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea*
  • Pale tongue or gums*
  • Yellowing of the gums, skin or white around the eyes*
  • Excessive thirst and/or increase in urination**
  • Dizziness, disorientation, stumbling, paralysis, seizures.***

These could mean that your dog is bleeding internally

** These could indicate that there's a liver problem

*** A very serious potential side effect. The first symptoms may precede full-blown seizures. This can be life-threatening.

The last four sets of side effects (with asterisks) are the most serious, and if you notice any of them it's important to stop giving your dog the medication and get him to a vet right away.

However, it's always best to discuss ANY type of side effect with your vet.

Rimadyl Dosage for Dogs:
Normally 2mg per lb of body weight per day. You can give it in one dose, or as two 1mg doses 12 hours apart.

It's best to give this brand of pain medications for dogs with food, so mix it into your dog's dinner or disguise it in tasty treats (given right before or right after a meal).

Don't ever give Rimadyl (Carprofen) to puppies under 6 weeks of age.

Studies seem to show that Labrador Retrievers are more prone to serious side-effects when given Rimadyl (Carprofen) than other breeds. Never give this drug to your Lab without your vet's specific recommendation/prescription.

Rimadyl in manufactured by Pfizer Animal Health. For assistance, their customer service number is 1-800-879-3477


This is another of the popular prescription NSAID pain medications for dogs.

icon icon

Active ingredient in Deramaxx is Deracoxib.

This pain medication for dogs is often used to treat canine osteoarthritis or for comfort after surgery.

Oral tablets only.

Side Effects:
Same as those given for Rimadyl above.

Deramaxx Dosage for Dogs:
Deramaxx is comes in 25mg, 75mg or 100mg flavored, chewable tablets.

The usual dosage for treating a dog (who weighs over 4lbs) and who is in pain after surgery is betwen 1.4 and 1.8 mg per lb of body weight, given once a day.

To treat the pain and inflammation of arthritis in dogs, dosage is normally 0.45 - 0.91 mg per lb of body weight, given once a day.

Deramaxx can be given with food, or without, but make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink at all times.

Deramaxx is manufactured by Novartis Animal Health. For assistance, their contact numbers are 1-800-637-0281 (USA) or 01276-694402 (UK, when dialed from within that country)


Previcox is one of the most recent NSAID pain medications designed for use in dogs.

icon icon

It is a fast-acting and effective medication used to control pain and reducing inflammation in dogs.

The active ingredient in Previcox is Firocoxib.

Side Effects:

As for Rimadyl above.

Previcox Dosage for Dogs:
Available as a flavored, chewable tablet in 57mg and 227mg strengths.

Give 2.27mg per lb of dog’s weight once a day.

Previcox is manufactured by Merial. For assistance with this product their contact number is 1-888-637-4251


Thes is  another NSAID pain relief option for treating pain in dogs, 

Although not FDA approved for veterinary use, many veterinarians routinely prescribe Meloxicam to treat canine pain and inflammation.

Available as Meloxicam tablets (active ingredient also in Metacam, an oral liquid).

Codeine For Dogs

Codeine is not an NSAID. It's actually an narcotic drug.

It's very well absorbed and tolerated by most dogs, and is an effective painkiller that can be used for moderate to severe pain.

Codeine is a fairly strong  drug and can be addictive. Only available by prescription from your veterinarian.

Sometimes combined with aspirin or hydrocodone.

Side Effects Can Include:

  • Drowsiness or Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Urine retention
  • Slow or labored breathing

Codeine Dosage for Dogs:

For pain relief, the recommended dosage is 0.25mg - 1.0mg per pound of bodyweight, given every 6 to 8 hours.

Tramadol For Dogs

This pain medication for dogs is not an NSAID and has no anti-inflammatory properties.

icon icon

Tramadol a pain-killer from the opiate category (similar to morphine in terms of how it works), and it can be addictive.

Given in the correct dosage Tramadol can be a very effective medication for pain reduction.  

It may be a good choice for dogs who can't take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.

Although it is sometimes considered to be safer than many NSAID's due to the lower risk of side effects, this is a powerful drug and dosage needs to be extremely accurate.

Not suitable for dogs who have liver or kidney disease, respiratory problems or who suffer from seizures. Not for use in pregnant dogs.

Mild to Moderate Side Effects Can Include:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Abnormal heartbeat*
  • Breathing problems*
  • Constricted pupils
  • Weakness or dizziness

* This is a potentially serious reaction/side effect and you should let your veterinarian know right away if your dog experiences this problem

Symptoms Of An Overdose Are Serious & May Include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heart-beat
  • Anxious behavior
  • Hallucinations

These can lead to collapse and death. If you notice any of these side effects get your dog seek immediate veterinary help.

Tramadol Dosage for dogs:

The dosage for Tramadol recommended for dogs can vary depending on the reason it has been prescribed.

Anything from 0.5mg - 1.8 mg per pound of body weight could be given every 8 to 12 hours.

But this dosage MUST be decided by your veterinarian and followed carefully by you. Slow-release tablets that are prescribed for human use are NOT suitable for dogs.

Neurontin for Dogs

Neurontin was not formulated to give pain relief to dogs, or for animals at all for that matter.

It is a anti-seizure medication designed for people, which contains the active ingredient Gabapentin.

Although not FDA-approved for animal use, many veterinarians regularly prescribe Neurontin to treat chronic pain in dogs (and cats). 

It is effective and well tolerated by most.

Do not give Neurontin to dogs who are pregnant or nursing.

Mild to Moderate Side Effects Can Include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling (usually of the legs)
  • Loss of balance

Neurontin Dosage for Dogs:

The dosage for pain relief in dogs is 1.4 mg per lb of body weight, given ONCE per day.

Do not give your dog an antacid medication within two hours of this drug.

If you check prices online, you will often find that you can fill your pet's prescription for less than buying them direct from your vet....

1-800-PetMeds Pet Supplies Free Shipping $49

Potentially Poisonous Medications

Some of the above pain medications for dogs are safe when given under your veterinarian's instruction and in the correct dosage for your specific dog, but can be deadly if given incorrectly.

Some pain killers (and other types of medications) that are safe for human use are extremely dangerous, even poisonous, for dogs - in any situation.

The side-effects of your dog ingesting these (usually accidentally) can be very serious, even deadly.

Here's a look at some of the most common human medications and supplements which are potentially poisonous to Fido, and the damage they can cause:

  • Ibuprofen - internal bleeding, stomach ulcers, kidney failure
  • Aleve -  internal bleeding, stomach ulcers, kidney failure
  • Tylenol - damage to red blood cells, liver damage
  • Xanax - dangerous drop in blood pressure, collapse
  • Adderall -  dangerously raised temperature & heart rate, tremors, seizures
  • Ambien - dangerously elevated heart rate, agitation
  • Klonopin - dangerously low blood pressure, collapse
  • Cymbalta - agitation, tremors, seizures
  • ACE Inhibitors - abnormal heart rate, low blood pressure, collapse, organ failure
  • Vitamin D - dangerously elevated calcium levels, kidney failure
  • Iron - diarrhea, vomiting, organ damage/failure

Human Medications Safe for Dogs

There are several dog safe human medications which veterinarians may prescribe/recommend to treat canine health problems.

Although these are generally considered safe for most dogs, the dosage needs to be absolutely correct (dog dosage is NOT the same as human dosage).

It's always vitally important to never give Fido any medication without first consulting your vet.

You can find a list of the human medications which are also routinely given to dogs on this page... Dog Safe Human Medications

Safety Tips!

Whenever you're giving your dog ANY type of medication (prescription or OTC) it's very important to check, and then DOUBLE-check that you've got the dosage right!

You can report adverse side effects to FDA-approved medications to the FDA by calling 1-800-332-1088

Learn more here... FDA Animal Drug Side Effects & Product Problems

OTC medications will usually require you to do some simple math, and a miscalculation or moving a zero or a decimal point, can make a big difference - and put your dog in danger.

Even prescription tablets may need to be halved, or measured out too.

Also, make sure that you understand the possible side-effects, their severity, significance, and what to do if they show up.

If you have any questions about ANY drug/supplement you're planning on (or already giving) your pet, don't hesitate to call your veterinarian and discuss it with him/her.

If the worst happens, and you find you've given your dog too much medication, don't just wait and see if he'll be okay! 

Some medicines (like Tylenol for example) can cause serious damage that you won't notice until it's too late. Always be safe, rather than sorry! 

If you're dog has been 'overdosed', even a little, get professional advice asap....

  • Call your own veterinarian right away.
  • Call a 24-hour pet hospital or emergency vet clinic
  • Call a Poison Control Hotline

Here are a couple of numbers that I strongly recommend you stick on your refrigerator or keep by the phone - they're vital if your dog ingests poisonous/toxic food or products....

animal poison control numbers

If the charges sounds a bit steep, think how much your dog's life is worth to you, and it will suddenly sound a lot LESS expensive!

Related Pages....

Learn more....

› Pain Medication For Dogs

› Pain Medication For Dogs

Back To Top Of Page

Print this page or turn it into a PDF

Print Friendly and PDF

Comments or Questions?

Have your say about what you just read - I'd love to hear from you!