Over-The-Counter Pain Medications
Are over-the-counter pain medications safe to use in dogs and cats?
Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a very common pain reliever that generally can be used quite safely in a dog. It is often a first-line pain reliever used in mild to moderate musculoskeletal problems. It is best given in buffered form (Bayer, Bufferin, generic tri-buffered aspirin, etc.) to reduce irritation to the stomach lining. You may want to give it with or just after a meal to reduce the risk of an upset stomach. Most importantly, before starting any medication, check with your veterinarian about your pet's medical problem and get the appropriate dose and form to use.
Common household pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Advil, Motrin and Nuprin) and acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) can have more serious gastro-intestinal side effects and are not recommended in dogs or cats. Cats in particular should never be given Tylenol—it can be lethal. Also, you cannot use the same dose of aspirin for your cat as you do with your dog—serious, if not fatal, side effects can occur. Always check with your veterinarian before giving your dog or your cat any over-the-counter medication.
A number of new prescription pain relievers have become available in the last year which appear to have minimal side effects. These have proved to be quite effective, even in some long standing chronic arthritis cases. Ask your veterinarian if your pet might be a candidate for one of these newer medications.