When your dog is in pain, it can be very hard to just watch and do nothing. There may be something you can do, however. If your dog has joint or muscle pain, you can wrap him up with a hot water bottle. A bag of ice works on slight swelling just like it would for you. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to make your dog lay still while you put a water bottle or ice on it. Luckily there are a few treatments available both by prescription and over the counter to you and your dog.
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If your dog is in pain, you need to find out why. Some causes of pain are obvious, like injuries, but others need a veterinarian exam to determine the reason. If you have a dog that suffered an injury, had a recent surgery like neutering or a dog whose pain has a diagnosed cause, you may choose to treat its pain at home. One option is over-the-counter drugs. There is only one OTC medication you should consider giving your dog for pain, though. Aspirin has the same side effects in dogs as it has in people. Just like in people, aspirin can cause gastrointestinal upset and stomach ulcers in dogs, but the risk is very low. It is a good anti-inflammatory and reduces pain and fever. The recommended dosage is between 5 and 10 mg per pound of body weight once every 12 hours. Aspirin is often given to dogs with arthritis and joint pain. Aspirin should never be given to puppies under 12 weeks old or dogs that weigh less than 3 lb. If aspirin does not seem to help your dog's pain, consult your veterinarian before trying any other OTC drug or increasing the dosage of aspirin. Even the slightest overdose of aspirin can be toxic for your dog.
Tylenol and other OTC medications that are meant for people should never be given to dogs. Although dogs tolerate aspirin well, they lack the enzymes needed to process other OTC pain medications.
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If your dog has not responded well to aspirin, call your vet and ask about a prescription for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Some NSAIDs are now approved for use in dogs and they are highly effective in controlling pain and swelling in dogs. Carprofen, meloxicam and firocoxib are a few examples of prescription NSAIDs approved for use in dogs. Like with all drugs, NSAIDs also have the risk of side effects. The most common are vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea.
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Aspirin can be toxic at higher than recommended levels, so always know the exact weight of your dog. Because recommended dosage of aspirin is between 5 and 10 mg per pound of body weight, it is best to start with 5. If your dog tolerates 5 mg well and needs more, up the dosage with the next treatment. Baby aspirin are 80 mg and are easier to work with. One baby aspirin is a full dosage for a 16-lb. dog. Most adult aspirin are 325 mg. This makes it harder to equally divide the pill into dosages for your dog. Never up your dog's dose of any medication unless your veterinarian tells you to. And always keep a close eye on your dog after starting any new medication. If your dog vomits, becomes lethargic or has a seizure call your veterinarian immediately.