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Can I Give My Dog or Cat Pain Medication?

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month!  Oftentimes, as pet owners, it can get a little confusing on whether or not you’re able to give your pet medications that are safe for humans.  Our experts at IndyVet are telling us that giving your pet any over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication is a big no-no and we’ll explain why.

It seems like an easy option, right?  Your pet seems to be experiencing pain so the only thing that you can think of is to run down the pharmacy and grab some ibuprofen, aspirin and/or acetaminophen just like you would for yourself.  But, the answer isn’t that simple when it comes to pets.  Dogs and cats can be extremely sensitive to pain medications. Drugs that are meant for humans such as ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, and acetaminophen can be toxic to dogs and cats.  These drugs can cause liver and kidney damage which can be fatal.  They can also cause severe gastrointestinal distress and cause stomach ulcers which can be deadly as well.  It’s always a safer option to talk with your veterinarian first to find out what options are safe enough for your pet.

Do Not Administer OTC Pain Medication for Your Pet

As we said, if your pet is experiencing any kind of pain, please notify your veterinarian as quickly as possible.  Your veterinarian can examine your pet to get to the root of the problem.  They can make recommendations about pain management (which may not always include opioids).  There are some anti-inflammatory medications made for animals that act like their human counterparts to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever.

There Are Other Options to Pain Management!

Our veterinarians agree, there are a multitude of ways to treat pain that don’t always include opioids.  Sometimes your veterinarian will recommend steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and other treatments.  A lot of family veterinarians and rehab facilities practice a multi-modal approach to pain management combining supplements, physical therapy, and other non-traditional methods with medications which can help improve the quality of life for pets who experience chronic pain.

Exercise Restriction is Important

When your pet is experiencing pain or if they are recovering from a recent surgery and/or treatment, exercise restriction is an important part of recovery. Keeping your dog busy so that they aren’t completely restless can sometimes be difficult.  One way to exercise your dog mentally instead of physically is to give your dog some obedience training.  Teach your dog to sit, lay down or wait and reward them with treats and toys to keep them engaged.

What are the Signs of Pain?

Since our pets can’t talk to us, you can keep an eye out for certain signals that will tell you whether or not your pet is in pain.  Watch for signs such as panting, restlessness, difficulty standing/walking and a reluctance to jump up and down off of furniture.  You know your pet best and if they’re not feeling their best, they will let you know!

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