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How to Help Dogs with Bad Hips, Joint Pain, and Osteoarthritis

What Pain Relievers are Safe for Dogs?

What can you give an old dog for pain? In this Vet Minute, Dr. Marty Greer discusses pain management for dogs, including relief for older dogs and tips on how to help dogs with bad hips, joint pain, and osteoarthritis.

What Can I Give My Older Dog For Joint Pain?

Many older dogs and even some middle-aged dogs suffer from pain caused by arthritis, Lyme disease, surgery, injury, and other conditions. Veterinary medicine has made significant advances in pain management over the past 25 years, providing various options such as pain medications, laser therapy, massage, VSMT (Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy), compresses, rest, antibiotics, and more.

Pain Meds for Older Dogs

There are several categories of pain medications for dogs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are commonly used for old dog pain relief. These include medications like Meloxicam, carprofen, and Galliprant. It's crucial to use veterinary drugs for this type of medication because dogs cannot safely take aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen, or Aleve. Do not use human medications to treat your dog. Have your veterinarian run blood work every 6 to 12 months to ensure your dog’s kidney and liver functions are not adversely affected by these medications.

Other pain medications that can be prescribed by a veterinarian include gabapentin, valium, and tramadol.

Antibiotics such as doxycycline are essential for treating tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and anaplasmosis. Consult your veterinarian if your pet has been exposed to ticks or if you suspect a tick-borne disease.

Laser Joint Treatment for Dogs

Laser therapy, also known as cold laser treatment, can help speed healing and reduce pain in dogs.

Dog Massage and Canine Chiropractic

Veterinary spinal manipulation therapy is similar to chiropractic treatment in people. Only professionals certified as animal caretakers should perform these treatments, as human chiropractors are not licensed to diagnose and treat medical conditions in animals without veterinary oversight in most states. There are also specially trained canine massage therapists available.

Cold Compress for Dogs

For the first 24 hours after an injury or surgery, use cold packs to manage pain and swelling. Follow with warm compresses later. Be cautious to avoid temperature extremes. Observe your pet’s reactions to determine what is working for them.

After an injury or surgery, limit your dog’s activity and exercise to allow for proper healing. Help your dog rest, as they may not have the judgment to limit their activity on their own.

For more information and resources on managing pain in dogs, visit

golden retriever laying on wood floor
dog with hip pain


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