When it comes to inflammation management in dogs, there are steroid anti-inflammatory medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and natural alternatives. Knowing which option is best can be hard for dog owners to decipher.
Anti-inflammatory drugs, as the name suggests, manage inflammation in dogs which often results in pain relief and decreased swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications are one of the most commonly prescribed meds in veterinary medicine.
In this article, we will talk about the different anti-inflammatory drugs for dogs. We will review their pros and cons and help you decide which medication is best for your dog.
Table of Contents
What is an Anti Inflammatory for Dogs?
Anti-inflammatories for dogs are medications capable of managing inflammation. The modern pet market offers anti-inflammatories explicitly formulated for dogs.
It is imperative never to give your pet store-bought, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or anti-inflammatory medications from your medicine cabinet.
Even something as simple as Aspirin, Acetaminophen, or Ibuprofen can have adverse effects when used inadequately.
How Nonsteroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs Work in Dogs
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme responsible for the production of prostaglandins. To make this mechanism understandable, we should explain what prostaglandins are and how they work.
Prostaglandins are lipids with diverse hormone-like effects. They are responsible for various body functions and processes, including:
- Supporting inflammation, pain, and fever
- Protecting the GI tract (stomach and intestines) lining
- Maintaining normal blood flow to the kidneys
- Helping platelets achieve normal blood clotting
When the COX enzyme is inhibited, there is no production of prostaglandins and consequently no inflammation and pain. However, this means that when inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis, NSAIDs also prevent their positive functions.
For example, NSAIDs will help with your dog’s joint inflammation and arthritis pain, but at the same time, they leave the stomach lining vulnerable, impair the blood flow to the kidneys, and mess with blood clotting.
When Should You Use an Anti Inflammatory for Dogs?
As already explained, anti-inflammatories are used to manage inflammation and consequently the accompanying pain and swelling. However, not all anti-inflammatories are made the same, and when used long-term, they can have serious side effects.
Therefore, you should use an anti-inflammatory for your dog only when told to do so by the veterinarian. Before recommending and prescribing an anti-inflammatory, the vet will carefully outweigh the pros and the cons. Plus, the veterinarian will determine which anti-inflammatory is best for your dog’s unique needs.
Anti Inflammatory Benefits in Dogs
Both natural anti-inflammatories and anti-inflammatory drugs have similar profiles when it comes to benefits. These benefits can be classified into four different categories.
Anti-inflammatories for inflammation control. As the name suggests, the main benefit of using anti-inflammatory agents is to reduce inflammation and its negative impact on overall health.
Anti-inflammatories for pain relief. Pain and inflammation go hand-in-hand, and managing one directly affects the other. Therefore, anti-inflammatories are efficient pain relievers.
Anti-inflammatories for reduced swelling. Swelling is an important aspect of inflammation that leads to additional complications. Anti-inflammatories manage to swell.
Anti-inflammatories for fever management. Finally, anti-inflammatories can be used to lower the body temperature in dogs with fever, regardless of its origin.
Anti Inflammatory Side Effects in Dogs
Side effects are a possibility with all medications, and NSAIDs are no exception. For easy remembering, pet owners are advised to be on the lookout for the common side effects of NSAIDs which are often described with the acronym BEST:
- B – Behavior changes
- E – Eating less (decreased appetite)
- S – Skin redness or scabbing
- T – Tarry stool (diarrhea and vomiting)
In more severe cases, and often due to long-term use, NSAIDs can cause potentially life-threatening side effects, such as:
- Stomach and intestinal ulcers and perforations
- Kidney failure and/or liver failure
Plus, it should be noted that, although not often, it is possible for some dogs to develop allergic reactions to NSAIDs. The signs of allergies are hives, itchy skin, and facial swelling usually require veterinary attention.
Finally, we should say that side effects are rarely seen with natural anti-inflammatories. This is the reason why many pet owners prefer holistic alternatives.
Best Natural Anti Inflammatory for Dogs
You want a more natural option instead of pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals have your dog’s inflammation managed. Here are some of the best natural and dog-friendly anti-inflammatories.
Turmeric for Dogs. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent beneficial for dogs with arthritis. To ensure adequate intake, you can add organic turmeric to your dog’s food or use a commercially available turmeric supplement.
Boswellia Serrata for Dogs. Boswellia is a resin tree extract with well-known and proven anti-inflammatory features. It is a common ingredient in many joint supplements because its ability to manage inflammation is beneficial for dogs with osteoarthritis.
Yucca schidigera for Dogs. Native to Mexico, Yucca schidigera is a medicinal plant of the Lily family with robust anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory features. It has several active ingredients and is a rich source of phytochemicals like saponins and polyphenols.
Fish Oil for Dogs. Rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories. Dogs supplemented with fish oil experience pain relief even if given lower NSAID doses. The best fish oil is made from wild-caught, cold-water fish like salmon.
Best Anti Inflammatory Medications and Supplements for Dogs
Let’s take a closer and more detailed look at the most frequently used anti-inflammatory drugs and supplements for dogs.
Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. Also known as corticosteroids, steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to be the cornerstone of inflammation management. Despite the more potent anti-inflammation properties, they are not prescribed on an everyday basis. This is because long-term corticosteroid use suppresses the immune system and damages the adrenal glands.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. Nonsteroid anti-inflammatory medications do not suppress the immune system and do not have damaging effects on the adrenal glands. They manage inflammation and pain by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins and preventing the body from overreacting to damage. Here are some popular NSAIDs for dogs:
- Carprofen (Novox® or Rimadyl®). This is perhaps the most widely used NSAID because its availability and potency in pain and inflammation management.
- Deracoxib (Deramaxx®). This non-steroid medication is used to treat pain associated with dental and orthopedic surgeries as well as canine osteoarthritis.
- Firocoxib (Previcox®). A common choice for managing arthritis and trauma/surgery-related pain but off-label, it is also used in the treatment of transitional cell carcinoma.
- Meloxicam (Metacam®). Achieves pain, inflammation, and fever relief, and it is indicated for dogs with chronic osteoarthritis and post-operative pain.
- Grapiprant (Galliprant®). Is a non-COX-inhibiting medication with the standard NSAID-related anti-inflammatory and anti-pain effects, but without the side effects.
CBD Oil for Dogs as Natural Anti-Inflammatory. Full-spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is perfectly safe for use in pets. Plus, CBD oil has additional health-boosting benefits. We recommend using the Honest Paws CBD oil and treats.
Anti-Inflammatory Supplements for Dogs. In dogs, the most common cause of inflammation is osteoarthritis. Therefore, we should say a word or two about several popular joint supplements with anti-inflammatory properties:
- Glucosamine HCL – acts like a cartilage building block, thus helping with its regeneration and easing joint pain and inflammation.
- Chondroitin sulfate – stops the destructive enzymes from causing cartilage damage which indirectly decreases the level of inflammation within the joint.
- Hyaluronic acid – supports joint health and mobility by maintaining the consistency of the synovial fluid and ensuring proper cartilage lubrication.
All of these supplements are found in Honest Paws Mobility Soft Chews, an easy to administer CBD oil treat for dogs. The properties of these natural anti-inflammatory supplements can help ease your dog’s joint pain and discomfort.
- Formulated for Joint Pain and Inflammation
- Made with Full Spectrum CBD Oil
- Third Party Tested
Our Final Thoughts on Anti Inflammatory for Dogs
Knowing your dog has inflammation is hard. Deciding which anti-inflammatory is the right choice can be even harder. Inflammation in dogs can be the result of injury, infection, allergic reaction, surgical response, or a chronic condition like osteoarthritis.
The bad news is inflammation is often painful. Luckily, there are two good news. First, inflammation is the body’s normal response to damage. Second, it is completely manageable, you just need to consult with your veterinarian and find the perfect anti-inflammatory.
The attitudes of owners and veterinary professionals in the United Kingdom to the risk of adverse events associated with using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat dogs with osteoarthritis (nih.gov)
A randomized, double-blind, prospective, placebo-controlled study of the efficacy of a diet supplemented with curcuminoids extract, hydrolyzed collagen and green tea extract in owner’s dogs with osteoarthritis (nih.gov)