It is important that we tend to our dogs and take care of their health. They are our beloved companions and we have an obligation to keep them healthy and happy. Besides, no one wants their dog to be in pain. You might wonder “what can I give my dog for pain relief?” It is important to note that certain human painkillers are totally toxic to dogs. However, a plant extract known as cannabidiol (CBD) is a safe and natural painkiller.
How Do I Know If My Dog Is In Pain?
Caring for a dog’s health is different than caring for a person’s health. That is because dogs cannot speak to us and tell us what may be bothering them. That means that we, as attentive dog owners, must pay attention to other signs. We have to always be aware of how our dogs are acting and pay attention to their overall behavior.
Signs that your dog may be in pain:
Antisocial or aggressive behavior:
Remember that dogs are highly social animals; they crave interaction. If they are hiding or avoiding contact, then there may be something wrong.
Changes in sleeping, eating, and drinking habits:
Dogs are like humans. They are creatures of habit. If those habits change, something may be wrong.
Being more vocal:
Because dogs are so social, they communicate vocally. If they are in pain, they may exhibit excessive snarling, yelping, growling, or even howling.
Dogs will instinctively clean their wounds by licking them. This is also true if your dog has internal pain and they may be licking themselves to soothe their symptoms. They will most commonly focus on their paws and they may even bite at the skin until they give themselves “hot spots” or sores.
Excessive panting or labored breathing:
It is perfectly normal for a dog to pant. In some cases, panting is a sign of happiness or contentment. However, if it is excessive or if their breathing is shallow, it likely means that something is wrong.
Issues with mobility:
If your dog is limping or moving about stiffly, they are probably in pain. They may be reluctant to leave their beds or unable to climb stairs.
If your dog appears restless by pacing back and forth, being unable to get comfortable, or barely sleeping, then they are likely experiencing pain.
Swelling and changes in posture:
If your dog’s face, legs, and/or paws are swollen, then they may have serious inflammation and pain. In some cases, it may even be cancer. They may also have a hunched and rigid stance or even take on the “prayer” posture where their front legs are on the ground and their bottom is up in the air.
Trembling or shaking:
This is a serious symptom and it may even indicate poisoning, kidney disease, and/or pancreatitis.
*If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms or if you notice an overall change in their behavior, it is a good idea to take them to a veterinarian and get them checked out.
Are Human Painkillers Safe For Dogs?
The short answer is no! The most common painkillers for humans are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are available over-the-counter and are found in the vast majority of homes.
NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of what are known as prostaglandins. These are responsible for inflammation in the mammalian body. They are also responsible for kidney function, blood clotting, and the inner lining of the digestive tract. Dogs cannot properly metabolize human NSAIDs and they may be seriously poisoned if they ingest them.
According to the American Kennel Club, the five human drugs that are the most toxic to dogs are:
- Aspirin (brand name Bayer)
- Ibuprofen (brand name Advil or Motrin)
- Naproxen (brand name Alleve)
- Indomethacin (brand name Indocin)
- Acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol)
As you can see, all 5 of these are common NSAIDs (except for Indocin, which is rare in the United States).
NSAIDs In Dogs May Cause:
- Severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea
- Severe intestinal distress and ulcers
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive bleeding
- Kidney or liver dysfunction
- Chronic dry eye and potential blindness
- Damage to their joints
In serious cases or if they are not treated by a veterinarian immediately after ingesting these medications, they may even die due to kidney or liver failure as well as internal bleeding. There are NSAIDs that were developed specifically for dogs and can only be prescribed by a veterinarian. The most common of these is carprofen (brand name Rimadyl or Novox).
If your dog is suffering from pain, there are other alternatives that can help ease their symptoms. So, what can I give my dog for pain relief?
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an extract from the cannabis plant that has a variety of medicinal uses. It belongs to the group of compounds known as cannabinoids. These cannabinoids interact with receptors in a system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is in the bodies of all mammals, including dogs, and is responsible for appetite, cardiovascular health, sleep cycles, pain management, healthy functioning of the immune system, and the regulation of mood.
The cannabis plant has over 80 different cannabinoids, many of which have medicinal qualities. The most widely known is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is the active chemical in marijuana and it is kind of a chemical “cousin” to CBD. They are very different, however, in that THC is psychoactive while CBD is not. In other words, CBD will not get you high.
While that may seem disappointing to some people, it is actually extremely useful when treating pain in dogs. That is because most dogs do not respond well to intoxication. Unlike humans, who enjoy the euphoria, intoxication in dogs may result in agitation, confusion, and aggression. Using CBD bypasses these issues and treats your dog’s pain effectively and safely.
Health Benefits of CBD for Dogs
There has been an explosion of research into CBD and its benefits for the ECS. Remember that the ECS controls all kinds of processes in the body. As a result, CBD’s interaction with it can help treat a wide variety of ailments, including:
- Inflammation and pain (including the chronic inflammation found in arthritis)
- Agitation and anxiety (including instances of “separation anxiety”)
- Obesity and heart disease
- Muscle tremors as well as seizure disorders and epilepsy
- Appetite management to control blood sugar and diabetes
- Intestinal distress, vomiting, and nausea
- Tumors and cancerous cells
The wide range of CBD’s medicinal properties is truly remarkable. Furthermore, this incredible chemical compound can achieve all this while being extremely safe and virtually free of side effects.
What Is The Proper CBD Dosage For Dogs?
You should notify your veterinarian if you intend on administering a supplement with CBD to your dog. This is only to ensure that it does not have any adverse reactions to other medications. Other than that, it is remarkably safe and impossible to overdose on. If you happen to give your dog “too much”, they will simply get tired and sleep it off.
Since CBD is so safe, you do not have to be totally precise in how much you administer. However, a good starting point is to use one of these two formulas:
CBD Dosing Recommendation:
- A quarter milligram (0.25 milligrams) for every pound of body weight. This is known as a “regular dose” and is given to treat minor aches and pains, mild intestinal issues, appetite stimulation, minor agitation, and general old age as well as to promote overall health.
- A half milligram (0.5 milligrams) for every pound of body weight. This is a “strong dose” and is given for severe or chronic pain, severe arthritis, seizures, severe tremors, cancer, severe vomiting, and severe anxiety.
You can also look at this handy chart to help you determine your dog’s CBD dose: https://www.holistapet.com/cbd-dosing-chart-for-pets/.
Using all this information, let’s consider how much CBD to give a dog that weighs 40 pounds. If their symptoms are mild or if you want to see how they react to the supplement, then give them a regular dose and calculate 40 X 0.25 to get 10 milligrams. If the symptoms are severe then give a strong dose and calculate 40 X 0.5 to get 20 milligrams.
You can safely adjust these doses and increase them in 5 to 10-milligram increments. You know your dog best, so just monitor their behavior and see if they are getting the relief they need from their pain or discomfort.
CBD is most effective when given twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Also, it is an overall health supplement so administering it daily will yield the maximum results. Serious symptoms will subside within one hour of giving the CBD and more chronic conditions will generally get better within 1 to 2 weeks of administering it daily.
Other Alternatives to Prescription Painkillers
What can I give my dog for pain relief? CBD is even more effective when combined with other remedies or supplements. These remedies come from plants that have been used as medicine for centuries. The active components in these plants are known as phytochemicals. This is just a fancy, scientific way of describing which compounds in the plant give them their medicinal qualities.
It is also known as “Indian frankincense”. Boswellia is a resin that is extracted from tree bark. It contains phytochemicals that stop the production of leukotrienes. These are similar to prostaglandins and are one of the primary causes of inflammation in your dog’s body. Boswellia is extremely effective against pain and inflammation, particularly in arthritis. A study in 2004 found that it dramatically reduced signs of arthritis in 71% of dogs after just 6 weeks of treatment.
This is another plant derivative that is amazing at treating arthritic pain and inflammation. It is a root from the same family of plants as ginger. Tumeric is a spice and it is what gives curry its distinctive yellow color. It has been extensively researched and it is safe, natural, and highly effective. When combined with Boswellia, it becomes a “super supplement” that can dramatically reduce pain. This is especially true if you combine both with CBD.
There are some other herbal remedies that have similar anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties, including Comfrey root, Yucca, ginger, and horsetail. Many of these have other health benefits, including promoting cardiovascular health and digestive function as well as having cancer-killing properties. All of these can be combined with CBD to create your own super supplements!