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Pain is very subjective and difficult to measure. Because dogs instinctively hide their pain to prevent potential predators from targeting them when they are injured, pain assessment in dogs can be challenging. The outward demonstrations of pain vary widely from dog to dog. 

Seeing your dog in pain can be hard to handle. Whether they have a sore paw or they’ve been stung by a bee, you don’t want to watch them suffering in any way. 

Signs of Pain in Dogs

Signs of pain in dogs can be obvious, like limping or yelping. Sometimes, however, signs can be difficult to detect. The following behaviors may indicate your dog is in pain:

  • Limping
  • Yelping
  • Not playing as much
  • Sleeping more
  • Irritability
  • Lowered tail
  • Reluctance to jump or climb stairs
  • Decreased appetite

Over The Counter Medications

Nonsteroidal Anti inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s)

Paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin are just some of the medications commonly used by us for pain relief. When your dog is in pain, it might be tempting to give them one of these medications to help them.

However, simply giving them something from your medicine cabinet isn’t a good idea. While there are similar medications for dogs, giving them products made for humans could do more harm than good. They are usually safe for dogs and have few side effects. But in some cases, they can cause kidney, liver, or digestive problems.

NSAID’s that are safe for dogs

Drug companies have designed specific pet pain medications that are safer and more effective for dogs than those that are designed for people. Your veterinarian can prescribe pain medicine that’s made for dogs that can safely and effectively relieve your pet’s discomfort.

NSAIDs that are commonly used for dogs include carprofen, etodolac and meloxicam.

Natural pain relief through supplements

The use of natural pain relief supplements is a field growing in popularity amongst many pet parents who want an alternative method to alleviate their pup’s discomfort.


Pain is the result of inflammation within the body, and turmeric is a natural way to calm flare-ups. Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and wound healing capabilities.

Glucosamine and Chondriotin

Supplements, like glucosamine and chondroitin, are very popular alternative treatments. It’s not clear if they help, but some research has found that they may make swelling go down and help cartilage repair itself. They also may help protect and lubricate existing cartilage.

Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E

Essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, cannot be made in the body itself. They can be mostly only be supplied in a dog’s diet. While Omega-6 fatty acids are found in abundance in dog food (poultry, meat, egg yolks, vegetable oils, whole grains), Omega-3 fatty acids are harder to find.

Of the two fatty acids, Omega-3 is the one most likely to benefit a dog in pain. The best way for a dog to ingest Omega-3 fatty acids is through fish oil supplements. They are highly recommended for dogs with chronic arthritis.

Side effects to look out for

If your vet does prescribe pain relief for your dog, you need to watch out for certain side effects. All medications have potential side effects, but these are weighed against the benefits that the medication delivers to determine their effectiveness and safety.

Some of the side effects to watch out for are:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin redness
  • Digestive issues, including diarrhea and vomiting

Your vet will have a better knowledge of your dog’s health, so they can give you more information about what to look for. You might find it helpful to read the leaflet that comes with the medication too


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