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Okay, so lately, I've been writing a lot about pain in dogs. The topic keeps coming up and I'm inspired to write more. So here goes…
Years ago, when someone would ask me about pain killers, I had a shortlist of “natural” pain killers that I would direct them to, because the stuff prescribed to you at the vet is bad for the liver and kidneys, right? Today, I'm so tired of hearing people ask about “natural” stuff that I could scream. In fact, I did scream when someone sent me an email stating that their dog was in pain and they needed a natural pain killer.
So, I'm going to share something that may piss a few people off, but it's the truth.
If your dog is pain GO TO THE FLIPPIN' VET AND GET SOME PAIN KILLERS!!!
If You Don't Have to Be in Pain, Why Choose Pain?
When I discovered that I could make healthier choices for my dogs, I did. And I was so damn proud of myself and told anyone who would listen that I use essential oils to ward off fleas, that I don't buy shampoo from the pet store, and eventually I bragged about making my own dog food. Now I feel embarrassed about my ego. It's a great to make healthier choices for ourselves and our pets, but these aren't the only choices.
I got into an accident a few years ago. I was rear-ended at a high speed and my back is still in pain. It doesn't help that I was rear-ended again a couple of weeks ago. Why can't people put down their damn phones? Anyway, I happily grabbed a bottle of muscle relaxers and pain killers after that accident. I also went to a massage therapist for a few months and stretched in front of the television twice a day. No one questioned my choice to take prescription medication for pain, yet whenever someone shares that their dog is on a NAISD (an anti-inflammatory) or pain killer, the warns are trotted out.
If we won't tolerate pain for ourselves, why would we allow our dogs to be in pain?
The idea that everything has to be natural is absurd, especially when science has provided us perfectly safe alternatives that work. Cyanide is natural. Snake bites are natural. Hell, drinking water is natural – but if you drink too much in one sitting, you can die. The same applies to medication. This is why we receive a prescription along with dosage instructions instead of an endless supply and no instructions.
Natural Pain Relievers Don't Always Work
I don't care what anyone says, but natural pain relievers don't always work. Especially when put up against chronic, intense pain. I tried CBD oil after my accident and it didn't do a thing for me. I would wake up in tears after a night of fitful sleep and I was tempted to take a leave of absence from work. I can't imagine putting my dogs through unnecessary pain when there is help.
I have used the following “natural” (aka, not prescription) pain relievers for my dogs:
With intense joint pain, an injury, or muscle sprain – pain that makes mobility difficult or causes my dog to cry out in pain, these options don't work. Three out of the four listed work great for minor pain, but not for serious pain. If I do try to use it for serious pain, I end up using twice or more the recommended dosage, making the “natural” option more expensive.
Pain Relief that Works for My Dogs
After an injury, I trust prescription medication for pain relief. It's worked great for my dogs. I have the same concerns about liver and kidney damage, which is why it's important to follow my veterinarian's directions. I also add the following to my dogs' diet when I'm giving them prescription medication:
And when my dogs' pain isn't as intense (as we get it under control), then I go for one of the “natural” options I mentioned above.
Natural Options for Pain Relief in Dogs
When I switched my dogs to a raw food diet, I saw tremendous improvement in their joint health. Rodrigo and Sydney began dealing with inflammation early in life and getting them off of processed foods and on to fresh food was a key first step.
But now that they are senior dogs, joint pain takes on a different look at our house. They're not just limping occasionally; they're having mobility issues. And, because of that, my answer doesn't change. If a dog is in tremendous pain, yelping, unable to get comfortable, not putting weight on a limb – then I'm going to look to my veterinarian for help with pain management. Once the pain is under control, then I go for a different option. For instance, we have two senior dogs that take WINPRO Mobility and Canine System Saver, which has improved their mobility and reduced pain and discomfort. My dogs are still also on CBD oil (which helps) and the occasional “natural” option, like DGP for Pets (mentioned above).
Bone Broth for Dogs
I've had people ask me why I don't give my dogs duck feet or bone broth for joint pain and my response is THIS DOESN'T WORK! Yeah, I shout it in my head. I do add both duck feet and bone broth to my dogs' meals, but these do not ease joint pain in my dogs. The duck feet are fed whole and while it's believed that the cartilage supports joint health, I feed it because the dogs love it and I love the sound of the crunching. Duck feet satisfy their chew drive. I add bone broth to my dogs' meals in the winter to fend off cold temperatures by adding something warm to their bellies. Bone broth is also great for a sick dog or a picky dog. But I don't care how much it gels, I'm not convinced that it will take away my dog's joint pain.
Golden Paste for Dogs
We see a lot of mention of golden paste for dogs and while some may report miracles thanks to this natural supplement, I use it in combination with a fresh food diet and the joint supplements I mentioned above. Golden paste is also great for digestive health, is suspected to shrink tumors and combat cancer, and has a host of other health issues not related to joints. So, while I don't think golden paste alone is the answer for my dogs, I do believe that this food is a healthy addition to the bowl.
Green Lipped Mussel Powder
I add GLM powder to my dogs' meals because it's a great source of iodine according to the Animal Diet Formulator. I don't add it for joint health because I have never noticed long term improvement in my dogs' mobility after adding GLM to their bowls.
Whenever someone recommends essential oils for pain relief, I want to laugh in their face. Are you flippin' kidding me? When I was in my accident, I didn't go home and start sniffing oils to feel better. Nor did massaging them on my skin help. I know that there are many veterinarians who are successfully using essential oils in their practice, but I'm not a veterinarian, so I use them to freshen the house, make grooming products for my dogs, and create a peaceful atmosphere in the home. Essential oils work on my mental health, but not really on my physical health.
So, if my dog is in pain, I'll use pain medication to alleviate the pain and diffuse a sleepy blend to help them relax and rest.
Acupuncture, Laser Therapy, and Chiropractic Care
I have used acupuncture, laser therapy, and chiropractic care with Sydney and Rodrigo with great success. But these were used in combination with anti-inflammatories and pain killers. As my dogs got better, I was able to transition from prescription medication to the natural options mentioned above (DGP for Pets, CBD Oil, Duralactin, etc.). While these alternative options did improve my dogs' health over time, this was an expensive option. So we eventually invested two laser therapy tools to use on ourselves and our dogs.
- TENDLITE Red Light Therapy Device – FDA Cleared Advanced Medical Grade Technology Targets Injury Directly and Provides Joint and Muscle Pain Relief
- REVIVE LIGHT THERAPY Clinical – FDA-Cleared, OTC Class II Medical Device For Pain Relief Light Therapy
Pain Causes Stress, Making Things Worse
When people tell me that they won't consider anything other than natural options despite their dogs' pain, I have nothing more to say. It makes me angry that people can be so closedminded, but my anger is really at myself because I remember having this attitude. It's amazing how that attitude will shift when your dog wakes you in the night crying out in pain, when you have to carry your dog to the car to go to the emergency vet, or you find yourself spending hundreds on an orthopedic dog bed to give your dog extra support.
One thing I've learned after my accident is that pain causes stress. It makes you cranky, depressed and stressed and this impedes our body's ability to heal. This is why I take pain seriously and involve my veterinarian immediately. Prescription medication has never been a permanent solution with my dogs (thank heavens), but it's a great temporary solution that allows my dogs to heal. And only then do I turn to natural options.
If your dog is in pain, call your veterinarian. Don't ask a blogger what to do and don't post a question in a raw feeding group. If your dog is in pain, take them to the doctor so they can be examined and can find relief.