Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
As a dog owner, it can be heartbreaking to see your pup in pain. While conventional treatments work well for many cases of canine pain, some dogs may not be able to tolerate their side effects, and some owners prefer non-drug and natural treatments.
Natural pain relievers can be a safer option for dogs, as they do not pose serious risks compared to conventional medications. Many dogs respond better to multimodal therapy for pain control, which involves using a combination of natural remedies and conventional treatments.
In this article, we will discuss how to recognize signs of pain in dogs and explore various natural pain relief options that you can use to help your canine companion feel more comfortable and alleviate their discomfort.
How Do You Know Your Dog Might Be in Pain?
Bodily pains in dogs caused by injuries or illnesses come in varying levels. Their presence can be hard to detect in dogs when in their mild form.
However, here are some of the most common symptoms that come along with them:
- Repeatedly licking a specific part of their body
- Panting or whimpering
- Excessive vocalization
- Refusal to play
- Difficulties in walking or jumping
- Sensitiveness to touch in certain areas of their body
- Aggressive when touched on affected areas
It is important for owners to observe their pets and note down all the abnormal behaviors, such as these, to monitor their dog’s condition. Additionally, it’s important to monitor the dog’s sleep and night time restlessness, as this information can be helpful for the veterinarian to assess and decide on treatment if the pain situation doesn’t improve and veterinary attention is required. [source]
If your dog manifests any of these symptoms, provide them with natural pain relievers to ease their discomfort and soreness. Continue reading below to know the suitable options for your canine companion.
10 Herbal Remedies for Pain in Dogs
1. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) Natural Pain Reliever for Dogs
Alfalfa is a remedy for pain relief that you can give to a dog at home. It contains many anti-inflammatory saponins, including beta-sitosterol, alpha-spinasterol, and stigmasterol.
- 4 teaspoons dried alfalfa
- 1 pint water
- In a pot, bring a pint of water to a boil and add the dried alfalfa.
- Allow it to steep for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Strain the liquid and let it cool completely before pouring it into your dog’s food or water.
- The recommended dosage for this natural pain reliever for dogs is ¼ cup per 10 pounds of body weight. If you have a 35-pound dog, give him ¾ cup of alfalfa tea.
- Alfalfa dissolves inflammation-inducing uric acid.
- It lessens stiffness in the joints.
- Do not use homegrown alfalfa because they contain toxic seeds. Instead, buy this natural pain reliever for dogs from the grocery store, as their seeds are already removed.
- Alfalfa is said to hinder the function of the canine endocrine system. We do not recommend administering it on canines with thyroid issues.
- The anticoagulant effect of alfalfa makes this herb unsuitable for dogs suffering from bleeding disorders.
2. Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) Natural Pain Reliever for Dogs
The Boswellia acids found in Boswellia offer effective pain relief for dogs due to their anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, a study showed that Boswellia significantly reduced symptoms of arthritis in 71% of dogs during 6 weeks of treatment. Additionally, the administration of Boswellia serrata extracts has been shown to provide a significant reduction in swelling and pain, as well as improved motor skills in patients with osteoarthritis.
- The safe concentration of the Boswellia for dogs in their feed has been calculated to be 330 mg/kg of complete feed.
- Mix Boswellia with a small portion of nutritious fatty foods such as hemp seeds or olive oil to increase its bioavailability.
- Administer twice a day for 2 weeks. If the pain persists, continue offering him Boswellia, but cut the dosage in half until the symptoms abate.
- Boswellia mitigates other inflammatory ailments such as colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer.
- Overdosing your dog with Boswellia will lead to mild gastric symptoms such as diarrhea and flatulence.
- Discontinue use if your dog exhibits allergic reactions to Boswellia.
- This natural pain killer for dogs is known to interact with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as antibiotics and blood pressure medications. Always consult the vet before giving your dog
3. Cayenne (Capsicum spp) Natural Pain Reliever for Dogs
Capsaicin offers many health benefits to dogs, such as cardio-protection, anti-inflammation, analgesia, thermogenesis, and a positive influence on the GI system. It has potential clinical value for cancer prevention, weight loss, and pain relief in dogs. Its active ingredient, capsaicin, acts as a nerve blocker, dulling the pain caused by inflammatory diseases. [source]
- Combine all ingredients in a glass jar.
- Place it at room temperature for at least a week. Make sure to shake the mixture daily.
- Strain the liquid before using it on your dog.
- Massage the cayenne liniment on the affected area, then wrap it with a clean cloth or gauge.
- Cayenne supports enhanced blood circulation to nerves and joints.
- It also helps stop bleeding from minor wounds.
- Cayenne’s spice is an irritant, so avoid applying it on sensitive parts of your dog’s body, such as near the eyes and nose. Also, make sure to wear gloves and let your dog don an E-collar to keep him from ingesting the liniment.
- Water will not wash off the cayenne pepper’s capsaicin, so use vegetable oil instead.
- Cayenne is unsuitable for dogs with renal and digestive issues.
4. Topical Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Pain Relief for Dogs
Comfrey is a natural pain reliever for dogs because it produces allantoin and rosmarinic acid. These naturally occurring chemicals in the herb promote fast healing of wounds and reduce inflammations, respectively.
- 1 dozen fresh comfrey leaves
- 1 cup water
- Make a comfrey compress by wrapping a dozen comfrey leaves in a towel and boiling it in water.
- Once the water turns green, remove the towel and squeeze out the excess liquid.
- Allow this natural pain killer for dogs to cool from hot to warm before applying it to the affected area.
- Keep the comfrey compress in place with a gauge and if possible, leave it in place for 3 to 4 hours daily for better pain relief.
- Comfrey helps heal abrasions, cuts, and burns.
- It eases chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis.
- It has high concentrations of vitamin B12.
- Comfrey leaves contain liver-damaging and cancer-causing pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). Avoid using it on canines with liver issues and cancer.
- As a precautionary measure, the comfrey compress should not be used on pregnant or lactating dogs as well.
- Do not apply the comfrey compress on deep open wounds as it hastens the healing of the skin without treating the infection.
5. Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) Natural Pain Reliever for Dogs
Devil’s claw is one of the best-documented phytomedicines. It has potent anti-inflammatory power because of iridoid glycosides. The herb particularly houses high levels of an iridoid called harpagoside. This chemical is said to aid in pain management in. Devil’s claw is also an effective alternative treatment for osteoarthritis pain.
Administer the powdered form of devil’s claw to your canine companion according to his body weight:
- Dogs under 44 pounds: ⅟10 teaspoon per day
- Dogs weighing 45 to 88 pounds: ⅕ teaspoon per day
- Dogs over 88 pounds: ⅓ teaspoon per day
- Devil’s claw reduces uric acid and eases gout.
- It supports weight loss.
- It alleviates arthritic pain.
- It gets rid of pro-inflammatory free radicals.
- In high doses, this natural pain reliever in dogs will irritate the gastric tract of dogs and cause diarrhea.
- Devil’s claw can exacerbate symptoms of stomach ulcers, gallstones, and duodenal ulcers. It should not be used on canines suffering from these health issues.
- Drug interaction may occur if the herb is taken together with blood thinners, antiarrhythmics, heart medications, and anticoagulants.
- Acquire this natural pain killer for dogs from a sustainable source to avoid contributing to its declining numbers.
6. Ginger (Zhinger officinalis) Natural Pain Reliever for Dogs
Ginger has 2 active ingredients called gingerols and shogaols that act as pain relievers. Both work together to reduce prostaglandin and leukotriene production, which triggers bodily inflammation in dogs.
- Fresh ginger root
- Rinse the ginger root and peel off its skin.
- Mince the herb into small pieces.
- Add minced ginger to your dog’s food. Dogs under 10 pounds can have ¼ teaspoon, dogs weighing 10 to 35 pounds can be given ½ teaspoon, and dogs over 35 pounds can have up to ¾ teaspoon.
- Ginger reduces stiffness and pain caused by arthritis.
- It increases blood circulation around inflamed joints.
- Avoid using ginger together with blood-thinning medications. The same is advised if your dog is expected to give birth or have surgery.
- Ginger may affect blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Ask the vet’s advice before giving it to dogs with diabetes or a heart problem.
7. Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) Natural Pain Reliever for Dogs
Horsetail is rich in silica, which is a compound found to fight off inflammation and reduce signs of pain in dogs. The herb also contains a good amount of silicon, which promotes the healthy formation of bone and connective tissues.
- 1 dozen horsetail leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Crush horsetail leaves and combine them with olive oil to form a paste.
- Allow the herb to soak in the oil for around 15 to 20 minutes.
- Transfer the horsetail poultice to a sterile cheesecloth and apply it to the affected area.
- Repeat the application of this natural pain reliever for dogs at least 2 to 3 times a day.
- Horsetail improves calcium absorption in the bones.
- It safeguards the body from oxidative damage.
8. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Natural Pain Reliever for Dogs
Licorice has a potent anti-inflammatory for dogs named glycyrrhizin. It functions similarly to the natural cortisone produced by the adrenal glands in canines.
Glycyrrhizin suppresses pain, swelling, and itching in dogs without damaging the immune system.
- 1 chopped dried licorice root
- Olive oil
- Place the chopped dried licorice root in a glass jar.
- Pour in the olive oil. Make sure to leave a ½-inch layer of liquid above the herb.
- Close the jar’s lid tightly and put the container in a warm place, but avoid direct sunlight. Ideally, the temperature must be between 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- After a month, strain the oil with a sieve. Then squeeze out any remaining oil from the licorice using a cheesecloth.
- Spread a thin layer of the oil infusion on the affected area of your dog’s body. Cover with gauze to keep him from licking it off.
- Alternatively, administer 12 to 20 drops of deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) per 20 pounds of body weight. A pooch weighing 40 pounds can have up to 24 to 40 drops of this natural pain reliever for dogs.
Long-term internal use of licorice root can lead to sodium retention and loss of potassium. Avoid giving it to your dog for more than 2 weeks.
- Licorice prevents cartilage degeneration.
- It boosts immune system function.
- Licorice interferes with the uterine function of female dogs. Thus, avoid administering it to pregnant or lactating canines.
- Talk to the vet before using this natural painkiller if your dog is under medication. Licorice is reported to interact with blood thinners and (NSAIDs).
- Intake of licorice root is not advised for dogs with diabetes, liver issues, or cardiac problems.
9. Curcumin Natural Pain Reliever for Dogs
Curcumin is a natural compound found in turmeric; it has been found to offer numerous health benefits to dogs; curcumin is known for its potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, making it a safe, natural alternative to conventional painkillers for dogs.
- ½ cup organic curcumin powder
- 1 cup filtered water
- 2 to 3 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- ⅓ cup organic flaxseed oil or coconut oil
- Curcumin must be taken together with ground pepper and healthy oil for better absorption into your dog’s body.
- In a saucepan, thoroughly mix the curcumin powder with water.
- Bring the liquid mixture to a boil, then let it simmer for 7 to 10 minutes until it forms a thick paste.
- Turn off the heat and allow the curcumin paste to cool down for around 10 minutes.
- Add the flaxseed oil or coconut oil to the mixture. Stir well.
- Refrigerate the curcumin paste in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- The recommended dosage is ¼ teaspoon for dogs below 22 pounds, ½ teaspoon for 25- to 50-pound dogs, ¾ teaspoon for 88-pound dogs, and 1 teaspoon for dogs over 90 pounds.
- Mix this natural pain reliever in his food daily. Start with a small amount before slowly increasing it until you reach the advised dosage for your dog’s weight.
- Curcumin combats inflammation-causing oxidative stress.
- Curcumin soothes joint pain in dogs.
- Curcumin may cause constipation in dogs. Combining this natural pain killer for dogs with a small amount of kefir prevents this gastric issue from occurring.
- Curcumin interacts with certain medications, such as antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory drugs. It can also affect the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments. If your dog is under medications or undergoing certain treatments, consult the vet before giving him curcumin.
- Curcumin is a warming spice that may affect your dog’s body temperature. Avoid administering this natural pain reliever for dogs if your canine companion is sensitive to heat.
10. Yucca (Yucca schidigera) Natural Pain Reliever for Dogs
Yucca has natural steroidal saponins, namely sarsasapogenin, and smilagenin, which mimic the natural cortisone hormone produced in the canine body. They provide the same pain relief as steroid drugs minus the harmful adverse reactions.
- The appropriate dosage of yuca root powder for dogs is ¼ teaspoon per 25 pounds of body weight.
- Mix this natural pain reliever for dogs in your dog’s food for 4 days.
- Skip adding it to his meals for the next 3 days to help his digestive tract adjust and prevent stomach upset.
- Yucca aids in disintegrating mineral deposits in the joints.
- It supports strong joints and healthy cartilage.
- It promotes tissue repair and prevents muscle degeneration.
- Never let dogs ingest raw yucca root, as it contains toxic hydrogen cyanide.
- Avoid excessive intake of this natural pain killer for dogs, or it will cause digestive problems such as vomiting and bloat.
Other Home Remedies for Pain Relief for Dogs
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, is an excellent supplement to soothe joint inflammation and pain in dogs, and is regularly prescribed by vets. Clinical evidence shows that feeding your dog a balanced diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may help manage their pain, especially if they have osteoarthritis or other pro-inflammatory diseases.
Similar to fish oil, this natural pain reliever for dogs is packed with omega-3 fats. However, green-lipped mussels contain other joint-supportive nutrients such as glycosaminoglycans, eicosatetraenoic acid, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Heat packs or ice packs come in handy if your canine companion is in pain. A heat pack is ideal for chronic pains and can be applied to affected areas for 20 minutes at most.
On the other hand, an ice pack is more suited for soothing aches and soreness caused by short-term conditions like sprains. Press it on the affected area for about 10 minutes to relieve the pain. Applying cold compression therapy within the first 72 hours after stifle stabilization surgery can reduce pain and lameness and improve joint range of motion in dogs, according to veterinary studies.
CBD oil is a non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant. It helps minimize pain by stimulating the receptors responsible for managing the body’s pain. It is important to use CBD products with excellent quality control measures.
Achieving and maintaining a lean body condition may be the most important factor in improving the pain of a dog with arthritis. Portion control promotes weight loss in obese or overweight dogs, which reduces strain on their joints and decreases joint pains.
Keeping dogs fit is another good method for weight management. While regular exercise is easy for healthy canines, it can be difficult for pooches with arthritis.
So choose low-impact exercises for them such as swimming and underwater treadmill. These activities do not place unnecessary pressure on their joints.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment that makes use of needles. They are strategically inserted in specific parts of the body to encourage the relaxation of muscles and improve blood flow.
Acupuncture is a pain-free process, but it should be carried out by a certified veterinary acupuncturist to ensure safety.
Environmental modification can also be used at home to preserve access to preferred areas. Owners can provide injured, arthritic, or neurologic pets with secure footings, such as carpet runners, or with ramps or steps to areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. Animals in discomfort often feel vulnerable and prefer to rest in quieter or more protected areas of the house, such as behind a couch or under a bed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pain Relievers for Dogs
1. Can I give paracetamol to my dog?
Paracetamol can be given to dogs for pain relief, but only under veterinary guidance. Avoid administering it to your pet without a prescription to prevent the risk of poisoning.
2. What human painkillers can I give my dog?
We advise against giving your dog over-the-counter human painkillers. Many, if not most of them can cause toxicity in canines.
Although some of them can be given to dogs with the right dosage, err on the side of caution and look for safer alternatives such as natural pain relievers.
When your dog is in pain, natural pain relievers can be a safer alternative to conventional painkillers. These remedies can be just as effective but are less likely to cause side effects.
As a dog owner, you want your furry companion to be as comfortable as possible. Check out our Diet & Recipes page for more safe home remedies for dogs.