It’s no fun when our dogs are in pain. Be it from sudden injuries or medical conditions like osteoarthritis, when our best friends are hurt we all want to do what’s best for them. Unfortunately, unlike us humans who can reach into the kitchen cabinet and take a couple of ibuprofen tablets, many common over-the-counter medicines are toxic to our dogs. In fact, even many traditional analgesic medicines created for dogs can be dangerous, which is why it’s important that you research and understand what you are using.

Natural Treatment

Because of the risks associated with many traditional analgesics it’s a good idea to use natural supplements and remedies which have fewer side effects instead. Some owners find their furry friend feels enough relief from these supplements to not require anything stronger.

Infinite – Hip+Joint Advanced Formula

Infinite Pet Supplement For DogsHip+Joint Advanced Formula is a natural supplement by Infinite which contains helpful ingredients to effectively ease joint pain (including hip dysplasia and arthritis) in dogs. Following is a breakdown of each active ingredient:


When cartilage breaks down around the joints enzymes are released which results in inflammation and the loss of vital joint fluids. Glucosamine is believed to play a key role in the formation of cartilage and helps to combat this process. Many vets have different opinions about how much glucosamine should be used for dogs, but generally, 500 mg for every 25 lbs the dog weighs is seen as a good dosage.


Chondroitin is an ingredient so commonly included in glucosamine supplements that it’s easy to mistake them for the same thing. Chondroitin helps cartilage to retain water, keeping it elastic. Studies have shown that chondroitin has a positive effect on joints by preventing cartilage breakdown and promoting repair.


Turmeric is a substance derived from the root of turmeric plants. It has been shown to reduce inflammation by blocking inflammatory cytokines and enzymes like COX-2 and is a great tool in the battle against arthritis.


MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a natural sulfur which helps to promote the creation of glucosamine and collagen. It also aids the immune system by promoting the formation of immunoglobulin.

All-In-One: Infinite combines all of the above helpful ingredients into one supplement to create the ultimate joint pain remedy which can be purchased here.


Most of us will be familiar with Arnica. Many believe it is useful for treating muscle aches and sprains, bruises and internal bleeding. Some even use it as an aid following injuries to the eyes, spine and brain.

It is available as cream, gel, tincture, pellets and tablets which can all be purchased over-the-counter at most drug stores. It’s important that you never apply the gel, tincture or cream to broken skin.

Yunnan Baiyao

Yunnan Baiyao is an oriental medicine with a wide range of benefits that was used to treat soldiers during the Vietnam war. It can aid the healing of cuts and wounds, reduce bleeding, alleviate swelling, relieve arthritis and boost the immune system. It can also be used to help treat tumors.

Traditional Medicine

If natural options do not adequately relieve pain you may need to try traditional medicines. As mentioned, these can have risks which we will cover below.


Tramadol is an analgesic which acts on the brain to achieve its effects. Unlike most other pain meds typically used in veterinary practice such as Rimadyl, it does not actually help to reduce inflammation and swelling. Because of this, when treating arthritis many vets suggest using other medicines in conjunction.

The dosage can vary depending on what condition is being treated but will generally fall between 0.5 to 1.8 mg/lb two to three times daily. With repeated use over longer periods of time the effectiveness of tramadol can diminish as your dog builds a tolerance to the drug.

More about tramadol for dogs…


Rimadyl containerNSAIDs are common pain relief drugs. Even aspirin is a type of NSAID and can be given to dogs, though it is not recommended (especially on a long-term basis) due to the risk of internal bleeding, stomach problems and toxicity.

NSAIDs work by blocking COX enzymes and by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins (lipids which control inflammation). Because of this effect they work well as a remedy for chronic arthritis. There are many NSAIDs created for use in dogs including Rimadyl, Previcox, Deramaxx and Metcam. These tend to be safer for dogs than your standard over-the-counter human NSAIDs, but they still carry risks. In particular you should read the following material:

The dangers of NSAIDs – This article by Dogs Naturally Magazine covers the potential dangers of NSAIDs and the serious adverse reactions which are possible with treatment.

petMD: NSAID toxicity – This is an article which covers the specifics of NSAID toxicity including the side effects you should look out for.

Overall NSAIDs are helpful but do carry risks (some very serious) which owners should be aware of when deciding to use them.


Gabapentin is an unusual medicine for this purpose as it only works on specific types of pain. Because gabapentin inhibits the release of glutamate (a type of neurotransmitter) it can provide relief to dogs suffering from neuropathy. 1.5 to 4.5 mg/lb is the usual dose and can be given once per day when prescribed by a vet.

More about gabapentin for dogs…

Guidelines For Safe Treatment

When treating your dog for pain, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Use natural supplements and remedies.
  2. Get in contact with your vet for advice.
  3. Use traditional medicines under the guidance of your vet if natural options fail.

    When talking to the vet about traditional medicine remember to discuss the possible risks of treatment. Also remember to mention any medical conditions your pet has and any other medicines/supplements he is taking.
  4. Schedule routine check-ups with the vet to monitor treatment.

Most natural supplements will not interact with traditional meds and can be used in conjunction for added benefits but do ask the vet just in case.

Side Effects

Pain meds may cause the following adverse effects:


The side effects can vary between the specific drugs being used, the following is intended as a general list only.
Most Common

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

Less Common

  • Organ damage
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Behavioral changes
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Organ failure
  • Seizures
  • Death

For the effects of specific drugs please refer to their respective pages on our website. You will find most NSAIDs listed in our dog medicine directory.


  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow heart rate
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Panting
  • Fatigue

Here’s a list of more tramadol side effects in dogs.


Usually Gabapentin will only cause sedation, but it can also cause other effects in rare cases. Contact the vet for advice if you notice bulging eyes, loss of balance, oversleeping and vomiting.