It can be stressful, upsetting, or down right scary to know that your dog is in pain—whether that’s through a recent injury, sickness, or simply age. Luckily, there are various routes owners can try out when it comes to treating dog pain and providing different forms of therapy.

As always, your veterinarian is best placed to diagnose and advise on the best treatments for your pup. This post is intended to show you some of the options out there, and further inform your choices.

How does the size of my dog affect the way his/her pain is treated?

Smaller vs larger dogs

Perhaps it’s obvious, but puppies and very small dogs are particularly susceptible to pain medication, and require careful prescription and exact dosages to keep things safe. Larger dogs have more room to tolerate home treatments, but caution should still be the name of the game if you’re considering self prescribing a medication. Check out the graph below for a guide on Benadryl doses—often considered the safest over-the-counter human medication for dogs.

For overweight or obese dogs

Dogs that are struggling with weight issues are more likely to benefit from individualised care schedules and routines—which might involve various exercise activities, physiotherapy, and even a course of medication to help treat and weight-related organ issues. VCA Hospitals notes that owners of overweight dogs should pay close attention to signs of potential joint damage and ensuing cases of osteoarthritis.

Can I give my dog Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or other over-the-counter medication for humans?

Tylenol, Aspirin, and Ibuprofen

A Pet MD article, reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, confirms that dogs should not be given aspirin, acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol), ibuprofen (commonly known as Advil), or any other pain specific medication intended for human use.

On occasion, human-grade pain relievers may be prescribed for dog use by a veterinarian—but overall—the science tells us that NSAIDs like ibuprofen are toxic for pets, even at a small dose. Judging by anecdotal reports, however, many owners do opt to take their pet’s health into their own hands. While it’s true that owners may know their dogs better than anyone, this kind of treatment just can’t be recommended on a universal basis.

Which all goes to say, the professional advice is a firm no on drugs designed for human consumption. Better to stick to the specific pain medications made for pets and dogs, which are safer and more effective for your pup than anything from a pharmacy. If in doubt, ask your vet!

Benadryl

There is one class of human medication that vets will often use on dogs. Benadryl, the antihistamine, is regularly given to dogs for issues such as seasonal allergies, nausea, and even anxiety.

Diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, has not yet been approved by the FDA for use on dogs, or any other animal. But this hasn’t stopped vets commonly using the medication inside their practices. Remember that drug brand names don’t necessarily always carry the same active ingredient, so check any Benadryl packets carefully before use, and always consult a vet if you’re unsure.

Ok, but how much is safe (and what kinds of Benadryl?)

What about natural remedies for dog pain?