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Whether it’s due to a limp or a cut, at some point, all pet owners will inevitably find themselves asking, “What can I give my dog for pain?”
The first thing all pet owners should do when they suspect something is wrong with their pet is call their veterinarian; of course, most animals have an uncanny ability to only get sick when the vet is closed, so it’s also important to know where the nearest emergency vet clinic is located. However, if it doesn’t seem to be a total crisis and you believe your dog can wait until morning to see the doctor, there are a few things you can do to help your pet stay comfortable until a vet appointment.
Whether your dog seems to have a limp, a sore back, an upset stomach or a painful ear, one of the first things you should do is make your dog a comfortable place to relax and stay relatively immobile. If your dog has a crate, maybe put a few extra blankets and pillows in there, and bring the food and water bowls close to the door so they don’t have to travel far. If your pet is agreeable, you could even close the crate door to keep out other animals in your home who may want to investigate or play, and to encourage the injured animal to stay still.
If your pet seems to have trouble getting around, perhaps due to a sore leg or hips, if you’re able, you should lift and carry your animal up and down stairs. The less movement and strain on its sore joints, the better.
As far as medications go, there are no human medicines that are totally safe to give to pets. However, for short-term care, a human non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Aspirin or Advil can be safe for your adult pet.
Puppies and cats of all ages should never be given human medications, because they have virtually no tolerance, and even a small dose can be lethal!
Always err on the side of caution when giving your pet human medications – always give a little less than you think you should. Because Aspirin, Advil and Tylenol (acetomimophen) have not been approved for veterinary use, there have not been studies conducted to establish proper dosages. Unofficially, some experts suggest that you can administer 5-10 mg per pound of your dog’s weight every 12 hours. However, every dog is different, and some can be very sensitive to even small amounts of human medicines. If you have any doubt at all, it’s best to contact your vet instead of guessing.
In adult dogs, continued use of NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers and inflammation, or an overdose can cause kidney failure. Additionally, Advil and Aspirin have been shown to damage joint cartilage, so they should not be used in dogs with osteoarthritis – which is especially inconvenient, since much of the pain pet owners wish to treat is caused by osteoarthritis.
Now that we’ve given the run-down of all the negative effects of human medications, it’s important to put a spotlight on holistic and alternative remedies. One common pain-relief treatment for both humans and animals is Arnica. If you are familiar with homeopathic remedies, you probably recognize the little blue tubes sold by Boiron, which contain many tiny white pills. Arnica is most conveniently available in this form, and can easily be dispensed (some guidelines on how to use Arnica, by Dr. Jill Elliott, are available here).
For longer-term pain relief, also consider giving your dog fish oil. Fish oil has been shown to have a variety of positive effects, ranging from improving your dog’s coat to helping with kidney disease; another important effect of fish oil is a decrease of inflammation of all kinds, and we know that inflammation equals pain. The Whole Dog Journal gives a great background on fish oil here.
Finally, if you want to treat your dog’s pain without human or veterinary drugs, a great alternative is the Assisi Loop™ and tPEMF™ (targeted pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy. Approved by the FDA for human use, tPEMF has been showed to reduce pain by more than 66% in humans with osteoarthritis.
The Assisi Loop is a light, portable 7.5-inch loop of wire that emits a vaguely spherical field of treatment. Simply place the Loop over the place where your animal is sore, or put their limb or head though the loop, and press the “on” button. A light will flash, indicating that treatment is being administered. While treatment is administered, a tPEMF field will enhance nitric oxide (NO) production. NO is the body's own substance for controlling swelling and inflammation. tPEMF microcurrents stimulate the cascade of molecular binding that leads to the release of NO. The proliferation of NO speeds along the recovery process, and, in many cases, quickly reduces swelling, inflammation and pain.
When using the Assisi Loop for two 15-minute treatments per day, pet owners have seen an incredible reduction in pain in their animal companions. As a completely safe, non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive therapy, owners can also rest assured that there are no negative effects like there can be with medications, whether human or veterinary. If your dog suffers from osteoarthritis, post-operative pain, an acute injury, or pain from a wound, the Assisi Loop is a great choice for pain relief and healing.
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