Medicinal vs. Natural Pain Relief For Dogs
Your dog is an important part of your family, and when they’re in pain, it’s natural to want to do everything within your power to make them feel better. Depending on their ailment or diagnosis, your veterinarian will likely recommend various medicinal pain relief treatments, but are there more natural alternatives available?
Let’s explore some common pain relief options for dogs, and find out which ones may be effective for your best friend.
How to know if your dog is in pain
Pain in dogs can be caused by a multitude of factors. Whether it’s a sudden onset of illness, a new injury, or an ongoing battle with chronic discomfort, you should be prepared to recognize the signs and act accordingly. Signs that your pet may be in distress include:
- Loss of appetite or increased thirst
- Difficulty when taking part in physical activity, such as walking or getting up
- Change in behaviour during physical activity or touch
- Changes in urination or defecation (1)
If your pet is displaying any of these signs, a check-up with their care provider is in order.
Medicinal pain relief in dogs
When a dog is in pain, a veterinarian may prescribe some medication to ease their discomfort. For serious injuries or conditions requiring surgery, opioids are a common recommendation both prior to surgery and during recovery. Opioids are generally used in conjunction with sedatives, to keep your dog calm and in a restful state. (1)
Many conditions that may cause pain in your pet have an element of inflammation, the treatment of which generally tends to be a prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug. NSAIDs are frequently prescribed to treat the symptoms associated with chronic pain. (1)
While you should always listen to a vet’s advice on the appropriate treatment for your pet, you may also be interested in natural ways to support your dog’s health.
Natural supplements and canine health
There is a growing interest in studying the impact of natural supplements on the vitality and wellbeing of pets. If you’re looking for a natural way to proactively manage your dog’s health, consider incorporating some of these elements into your furry friend’s well-balanced diet.
In a recent study of dogs experiencing stress while staying temporarily in a kennel, a probiotic regime was introduced to some canines, while others had no supplements. The study showed that the dogs who took probiotics had more positive gastrointestinal health and reduced stress symptoms when compared to the control group. This study suggests that a canine-derived probiotic may have a positive effect on some pets. (2)
Supplementing a dog’s diet with amino acids, vitamins, carnitine, and octacosanol is thought by some to reduce muscle damage, improve energy metabolism, and accelerate heart rate recovery in dogs. A double-blind study attempting to prove the effect of turmeric-based supplements enhanced with curcuminoids and essential oils provided mixed results. Researchers indicated that they observed a statistically significant improvement in mobility among osteoarthritic dogs who were given the supplement; feedback from owners was inconclusive. (3)(4)
One of the more promising studies on natural supplements for dogs was a recent experiment by holistic veterinarian Dr. Beverly Cappel, involving Fido-Wobenzym. Wobenzym is a form of enzyme therapy, which is thought to break down inflammation and fibrous tissue, while preventing blot clotting. Dr Cappel conducted a double-blind study into the effects of Fido-wobenzym on canine arthritis. The arthritic dogs who were taking the Wobenzym were observed to stop limping soon after the study began, and were able to go on longer walks. Dr Cappel also reported that in a separate study, some dogs suffering from cancer experienced either static or regressed tumor growth while on a Wobenzym regime. (5)
See our pet care section for our full range of supplements and vitamins for dog.
A non-pharmacological treatment is any treatment option that does not include traditional medicine or supplements, and some may be quite effective. Examples of non-pharmacological interventions include:
- Weight optimization. It’s possible that your pets’ pain could be somewhat relieved by simply reducing their overall weight. Having a lean body is central to the treatment of chronic pain in animals; if your pet’s overweight, a diet change could make a big difference to their wellbeing.
- Thermal modification. The application of heat to provide relief from chronic injury, and cold compression to treat pain and inflammation, is believed to support the comfort of pets in some cases.
- Acupuncture. A more unusual option, acupuncture is being used by some to assist pets with pain management. Acupuncture is minimally invasive and can be used alongside other treatments under the supervision of an expert practitioner. (1)
If you’re considering using natural supplements or treatments for your dog’s health or pain relief, make sure to discuss your options with a reputable veterinarian.
While some natural remedies may have a positive effect on your pet’s health, it’s always best to listen to expert advice, and to remain up to date on relevant research.
- “Pain Management Guidelines For Dogs And Cats”, Source: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1098612×15572062
- “Effects Of Varying Doses Of A Probiotic Supplement Fed To Healthy Dogs Undergoing Kennelling Stress”, Source: http://www.jarvm.com/articles/Vol10Iss3/Vol10%20Iss3%20Kelley.pdf
- “Benefits Of Dietary Supplements On The Physical Fitness Of German Shepherd Dogs During A Drug Detection Training Course”, Source: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0218275
- “Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Parallel Group Study Of P54FP For The Treatment Of Dogs With Osteoarthritis”, Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12723628/
- “Wobenzyme: A Digestive Enzyme Supplement For Dogs”, Source: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/health/wobenzym-a-digestive-enzyme-supplement-for-dogs/
Read next: Tips For Choosing The Right Dog Probiotics In The UK