As a loving pet owner, the last thing you’d ever want is for your canine companion to be in pain. Unfortunately, dogs can suffer from a wide range of painful conditions. Accidental injuries, surgical incisions, degenerative disorders, diseases, and aging can cause dogs discomfort and pain. If you think your dog is in pain, it is important to understand that it is best to come in and talk with us. However, on this page, you’ll find our answers to some of the most common questions about dog pain management. 

If you have questions about how to manage your dog’s pain, and are near the San Francisco, CA area, we're also here for you. Just call us at (415) 333-0813 to schedule an appointment. 

What is the difference between acute and chronic pain in dogs?

Acute pain is typically sharp and is most likely to occur due to an injury. If your dog limps after jumping to catch a Frisbee or chasing a squirrel, they are suffering from acute pain. Acute pain comes on quickly and is almost always related to trauma. In many cases, we treat acute pain with rest and anti-inflammatory medications, and the problem clears up without causing ongoing issues. 

Chronic pain is more ongoing and associated with chronic conditions, like arthritis. It is most common in older dogs and usually causes dull, achy pain rather than the sharp pain associated with acute injuries. Treating chronic pain is often challenging and requires multiple modalities. In most cases, the goal is to manage pain and minimize discomfort because most causes of chronic pain are incurable. 

How quickly should I bring in my dog if I suspect that they are in pain?

Bring your dog in right away if you have any reason to think they could be in pain. This might mean seeing an emergency veterinarian for acute injuries and pain instead of waiting for a scheduled appointment. Never ignore signs of pain. The sooner you bring in your dog, the sooner we can determine what is causing their discomfort and get them on the road to recovery. Seeking prompt treatment may also enable us to prevent the problem from worsening. 

What are some signs and symptoms of pain in my dog?

The symptoms of pain vary depending on its location and intensity. However, there are a few general signs that often indicate pain. 

  • Common symptoms of pain in dogs include: 
  • Sudden aggression/biting
  • Not wanting to be touched
  • Limping
  • Not putting weight on all four paws
  • Difficulty standing up
  • Refusal to jump, climb stairs, get on the sofa, etc. 
  • Hiding
  • Decreased socialization 
  • Excessive licking or chewing of an area
  • Difficulty settling or getting comfortable
  • Trembling
  • Lethargy
  • Crying out in pain
  • Decreased appetite/Refusal to eat

Unusual behavior could also indicate that your dog is in pain. You know your canine companion better than anyone else. If something seems “off,” it’s always best to bring them in for a comprehensive examination. 

Are human pain pills, such as Tylenol or Advil, okay to give my dog?

No, we do not recommend giving your dog any medication intended for humans (or even other pets). A single dose of certain human medications, such as Advil and Tylenol, can cause GI issues, including stomach ulcers, bleeding, and vomiting. These drugs can also damage the kidneys and/or liver. 

If your dog is in pain, talk to us. We are here to prescribe suitable medications at safe dosages and will work with you to find effective solutions for your dog. 

What are the medications you typically use for pain management?

We use several medications to manage pain in dogs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most popular class. While these medications aren’t technically painkillers, they reduce inflammation, which eases pain. We also sometimes use opioid-type analgesics to control pain. 

Medications for pain management in dogs include: 

  • Rimadyl
  • Previcox
  • Galliprant
  • Tramadol
  • Buprenorphine
  • Gabapentin

As your dog’s veterinarian, we will establish a safe, effective medication protocol for managing their pain. Even if you already have some of the medications listed above at home, you should never give them to your pet without consulting their veterinarian. 

Can a veterinarian help me manage my dog's chronic pain?

Absolutely. Scheduling an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian is the best thing you can do to manage chronic pain. When you schedule an appointment with us, we’ll start by performing a thorough physical exam and discussing any symptoms you have noticed. Next, we may recommend diagnostic testing to determine the cause of your dog’s pain. Once we know what’s going on, we will formulate a treatment plan to provide the relief your beloved companion needs. We may recommend multiple treatment modalities to achieve the best possible results. No matter what, we will always work closely with you to ensure that you understand the treatment protocol and how to best care for your dog at home. 

Where's the best place for me to get pain medication for my dog?

Your veterinary clinic is always the best place to get pain medication for your dog. As veterinarians, we have the knowledge and experience to prescribe safe and effective medications. And working with us means you’ll have someone to turn to if you have questions or if your dog experiences any reactions or adverse effects. 

If you have additional questions about dog pain management, we are here for you. Call (415) 333-0813 for further assistance or to schedule an appointment.