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Natural Pain Relief for Dogs: What Are My Options?

Helping Your Dog Manage Chronic Pain Without Prescription Drugs

By Sam Bourne. November 08, 2013 | See Comments

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Natural pain relief for dogs is a growing field, with more and more pet parents looking for alternative methods for alleviating their aging dog’s chronic pain. Many pet parents are skeptical about giving their dog high strength pain relievers without first trying something else. Here are a few of those “something elses” pet parents have found effective in treating chronic pain.

Natural pain relief for dogs is an area of veterinary medicine that has been picking up steam in recent years, as many people are hesitant about using pharmaceuticals for treating their dog's aches and pains, especially if the treatment is going to be long term, such as with arthritis.

While there are most definitely situations in which pain medications for dogs are necessary, for many cases of chronic pain, taking the natural route can often be gentler on your dog's system. With various types of therapy, exercise, and natural painkillers for dogs, non-pharmaceutical treatments for chronic pain are becoming increasingly popular with pet parents.

If your dog is suffering from chronic or post-operative pain, a few natural ways to try and alleviate their soreness are...

Exercise

The first thing a pet parent should try when it comes to alleviating their dog's pain is establishing a healthy, low impact, exercise regimen. One good example of low impact exercise for your dog is hydrotherapy. Proven to help dogs with arthritis or other types of joint pain, this style of treatment affords dogs the ability to get exercise without strain on their joints.

Another alternative (for those without a dog-friendly pool on hand) is taking a light walk on a soft field or running track. Simply getting your dog up and moving is one of the best ways to get them feeling better. Letting your dog lay around, while it may look like they are recuperating, is only going to exacerbate a condition like arthritis. Exercise of any kind, assuming it is within their threshold and they aren’t showing signs of pain, is crucial. This is not to say don’t let your dog rest, but make sure they do more than just rest.

Therapy

Just like people going through pain, dogs seem to respond well to different types of physical therapy. Everything from a full body massage to acupuncture can help your dog bounce back from their injury, or manage their chronic pain better. The effectiveness of these methods varies from case to case.

Massage therapy for pets has undergone some scrutiny in recent times. Some pet parents swear by having their dog undergo massage therapy every so often. Others view it as a glorified petting session. While the lasting benefits of massage therapy are still debatable, one thing is for sure -- your dog is going to love it, especially if they are in pain.

Same thing goes for acupuncture -- the large amount of testimonials surrounding this healing art are hard for some pet parents to refute. Claiming to use the strategic manipulation of pressure points to release the body’s own pain relievers, acupuncture aims to mimic the effects of pharmaceuticals without having to take any actual medications.

If nothing else, either type of therapy could be a nice treat for your sore pooch.

Vitamins and Supplements

A daily regimen of vitamins and supplements is another good way to manage pain without turning to pharmaceuticals. Since a major cause of chronic pain in dogs is arthritis, it follows that the most commonly taken supplement is one designed to help restore normal function to deteriorating joints. Actually a combination of two different supplements, chondroitin and glucosamine for dogs, slows the damage done to the cartilage surrounding your dog's joints, making it less painful for them to move around. With a number of different products on the market containing one or both of these two supplements, it helps to know some of the specific differences, as one may be better suited to your dog’s specific condition.

Dasuquin

  • Contains both glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Uses avocado/soybean unsaponifiables to boost the effects
  • Also contains decaffeinated tea for extra joint hydration
  • Safe to use with NSAIDs

Cosequin

  • Contains both glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Double-strength formula
  • Roast beef flavored
  • Safe to use with NSAIDs

Glyco-Flex III

  • Contains glucosamine
  • Uses methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) to restore nutritional sulfur for joints and muscles
  • Contains vitamins C and E and grape seed extract
  • Safe to use with NSAIDs

Arthogen plus MSM

    • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
    • Uses methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) to restore nutritional sulfur for joints and muscles
    • Contains hyaluronic acid (HA)
    • Beef and cheese flavored
    • Safe to use with NSAIDs

A Final Thought

Some dogs are only going to overcome their chronic pain with the help of prescription medications, such as NSAIDs. If your vet recommends something a little “higher octane,” it may be time to consider Rimadyl, Deramaxx, or Metacam.

More on Dog Pain Relief

Arthritis in Dogs and Cats 101
The Complete Guide to Dog Arthritis
Your Guide to Dog Arthritis Medicine

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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