Mar 20, 2023



What Is the Most Effective Painkiller for Dogs?

pain killer for dogs

As pet owners, we want to ensure that our four-legged friends are comfortable and happy. Unfortunately, sometimes our pets experience pain or discomfort due to injury, illness, infection, or old age. 

In these cases, it is important to be informed about the most effective painkillers available for dogs. In this article, we will examine what is available and which is best to manage your pup's pain. 

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How to tell if your dog is in pain

While your dog may whine, cry, pant, limp, or refuse to walk because they are in pain, there are also several more subtle or silent signs that your pup might be hurting, including:

Commonly used NSAIDs for dogs include rimadyl, carprofen, meloxicam, and deracoxib. It is important to note that NSAIDs can have serious side effects, so it is always best to consult your veterinarian before giving them to your dog. 


Opioids, like morphine, codeine, fentanyl, and buprenorphine, are powerful painkillers that can be used in dogs in certain situations. These drugs bind to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord that control pain sensations. 

While very effective at relieving severe pain in dogs, opioids can also have many severe side effects, including sedation, vomiting, and constipation. It is essential only to use opioids under the strict supervision of a veterinarian as they can be dangerous if not used correctly. In fact, many vets no longer prescribe opioids or use them as a last resort for dogs. 


Corticosteroids are another type of medication commonly used for treating inflammation in dogs. Prescription corticosteroids for dogs, like Prednisone and Dexamethasone, work by suppressing the body's natural immune response, reducing inflammation and associated pain and swelling. 

However, corticosteroids should not be used long-term as they can cause serious side effects such as changes in behavior, liver damage, or stomach ulcers if taken for too long without proper monitoring from a veterinarian. 


An anticonvulsant, like Gabapentin, helps calm excessive electrical activity in the nerves of a dog's brain. 

In addition to managing seizures and anxiety, veterinarians also recommend anticonvulsants to treat chronic pain in our four-legged friends. Gabapentin for dogs is primarily used for pain related to neuropathic pain, such as spinal cord tumors and degenerative joint disease in dogs. 

It's critical never to give the liquid form of Gabapentin, as it contains xylitol, a toxic and often fatal chemical for dogs. 

Research has found that dogs metabolize Gabapentin through both the kidneys and the liver. Therefore, your vet will likely monitor your pup more closely if they have kidney or liver problems, as they are at risk of more prolonged side effects. 

What is the best pain medication for your dog?

When choosing an appropriate option for managing your pup's pain, it's critical to consider all factors involved, including potential side effects and whether or not it will be an effective treatment option for your pet's particular condition or injury. 

Speak with your veterinarian before making decisions about treating your pet's pain. With their help, you can choose the right option to keep your furry friend comfortable while minimizing any potential risks associated with treatment.  ​

At CareCard, we are passionate about helping make your prescription payments more affordable, saving members up to 85% on prescription drugs and medications. Learn how CareCard can help make medication payments more manageable for everyone in your family, including your pets!

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