Over-the-Counter Anti-Inflammatory Medications for Dogs

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A dog being examined by a veterinarian in an exam room.
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If your dog is suffering from arthritis or other nonlife-threatening painful conditions, an anti-inflammatory medication might offer relief. Although you can purchase anti-inflammatory medications for your dog over the counter, always check with your vet before buying and administering these drugs. Many of these supplements require daily administration for days or weeks before having any noticeable affect on your dog.

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Methyl-sulfonyl-methane, or MSM, contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This sulfur source, found naturally in many foods -- including fruits and vegetables -- helps support cartilage repair. MSM also might benefit dogs with skin and respiratory issues, and possibly slow tumor growth. As an antioxidant, it might slow the aging process. Commercial MSM supplements usually are well-tolerated by dogs and considered safe when given in appropriate doses. Your vet can recommend MSM brands and the correct dosage for your pet, taking into consideration his age, weight and overall health.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, often included in the same supplement, fall into the category of nutraceuticals. These are food additives with healthy benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties. Glucosamine, extracted from mollusk or crustacean shells, aids in joint lubrication production and helps to repair damaged cartilage. In addition, it benefits the urinary tract, along with nail and skin formation. Chondroitin sulfate, which occurs naturally in the body, dissipates in aging animals, so supplementation can restore this substance with inherent pain-killing qualities. Chondroitin sulfate aids to repair and protect cartilage.


Fatty Acid Supplementation

The fatty acids found in fish and flaxseed oils sport anti-inflammatory properties. If your dog is suffering from pruritus, or itchy skin, these omega-3 fatty acids can offer help from dryness and scratching. They also aid canines with degenerative joint disease. For dogs, fish oil makes more sense than flaxseed oils. While both are safe, canines convert fish oil to omega-3 fatty acids in their body much more efficiently than flaxseed oil. Give your dogs fatty acid supplements for at least one month before expecting results. Your vet can recommend specific brands and the correct dosage for your pet.


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

If you want to relieve aches and pains, you might take an aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen tablet or gelcap to ease your discomfort. Those over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should never be given to your pet without veterinary recommendation. If your dog accidentally consumes any NSAIDs designed for people, call your vet immediately. Without prompt treatment, your dog could develop NSAID toxicosis, possibly resulting in death.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.