No pet parent wants to see their dog in pain. In some cases, the signs can be hard to spot, especially since it’s not uncommon for pets to hide their pain. Other times, signs of pain in dogs are more obvious—your dog may appear stiff when she gets out of bed in the morning or struggle to jump up on the couch. If your dog is in pain, it’s time to provide some relief. 

Dog pain control options range from all-natural, over-the-counter products to prescription medications. Your vet can make a recommendation for the best dog pain relief products based on your pet’s specific symptoms and diagnosis.

Why Do Dogs Need Pain Relief?

Cat and dog sleeping on a blanket together

Dogs can experience both acute and chronic pain. Your dog might need short-term pain relief after a spay/neuter surgery, an intense dental procedure, or an injury. A short course of pain relief medication can help take the edge off the temporary pain while they heal.

Several health conditions, including osteoarthritis, cancer and intervertebral disc disease, can cause chronic pain that requires ongoing pain management. 

Pain Management for Dogs

Cat and dog sleeping together on a blanket

Your veterinarian is the best resource for diagnosing the cause of your dog’s pain and developing a treatment plan. In addition to a physical exam, that could include blood work and X-rays.

“Dogs and cats are masters at masking their pain; by the time a pet owner notices pain in a dog or cat, odds are very high that the animal has actually been painful for a long time,” explains Dr. Robin Downing, a certified veterinary pain practitioner and hospital director for The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management. “It’s impossible to know just what is afoot, and how to proceed, without a veterinarian’s involvement.”

The best dog pain relief plans often include a combination of therapies, which could include dietary supplements, physical therapy, acupuncture and weight management as well as medications, to help control pain and manage underlying health issues. 

Prescription Pain Relief for Dogs

Dog with prescription pain pill in foreground

There are countless prescription pain medications designed for dogs. Some of the most commonly used prescription pain medications include:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: These medications, often called NSAIDs, control inflammation that causes pain and swelling and can help treat mild to moderate pain in dogs. Your vet may want to monitor for liver, kidney and intestinal issues that could be side effects of these medications.  

Gabapentin: The drug, which is also sold under brand names like Neurontin, Gabarone and Neutrostil, is used to treat chronic pain, including nerve pain. 

Opioids: Drugs like morphine, fentanyl and codeine are all opioid medications. Veterinarians may prescribe opioids for more severe pain such as advanced arthritis or cancer pain.

Dog and cat being held up at the vets office

It’s essential to only give your dog medications manufactured for veterinary use and not medications intended for humans. 

“Never reach into the human medicine chest in an attempt to treat pet pain,” Downing says. “Many human pain medications are toxic to pets [and] giving them can be fatal.

Only a veterinarian should prescribe medications or nutraceuticals intended to treat pet pain.”

For example, the oral version of gabapentin made for humans contains xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

Natural Pain Relief for Dogs: What to Look For

Dog and cat being held by their owner

There are several natural pain relief options for dogs that range from joint diets and all-natural supplements to CBD oils and treats that contain ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin, turmeric, ginger root and green-lipped mussels. These products are available in multiple forms from tinctures and tablets to treats and chews.

Research shows that natural pain relievers for dogs can be quite effective. In a study published in BMC Veterinary Research, dogs with osteoarthritis that ate a diet containing turmeric for three months showed fewer signs of pain (1); CBD oil was also effective for reducing pain in dogs with OA, according to additional research (2).

Although many of these products are made with natural ingredients, Downing still recommends speaking with your veterinarian before purchasing over-the-counter products to treat dog pain.

“[Your] veterinarian is the most reliable source of information about which specific supplements would be most appropriate in a specific pet for a specific condition,” Downing adds.

6 Best Products to Help Provide Pain Relief for Dogs

Our Picks

Best Hemp Oil for Dog Pain Relief

Our pick: HempMy Pet’s Hemp Oil

Bottle of hemp seed oil

Get 20% off with code VETSTREET20

The organic hemp seed oil is made with vegan, cruelty-free, organic ingredients that can help reduce both chronic and acute pain. 

Highlights

  • Veterinarian recommended and third-party tested
  • Full-spectrum hemp extract with CBD, CBG and CBC
  • Available in 250 mg and 1,000 mg doses
  • Clear, easy-to-follow dosing instructions 
  • Tincture with liquid dropper for easier absorption
  • Made in Colorado

Things to Consider

  • Not all dogs like the taste of hemp oil 
  • Could cause drowsiness or upset stomach
  • It could be cost prohibitive, especially in multi-pet households

Best Joint Support Diet for Dogs

Our pick: Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet

Bag of joint support diet for dogs

Although the turkey and potato recipe diet is made with limited ingredients such as turkey, pumpkin and potatoes to help dogs with food sensitivities, it also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health.

Highlights

  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin, ingredients proven to support joint health
  • Does not include common allergens such as corn, chicken, beef, wheat and soy
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Added antioxidants, minerals and vitamins
  • Limited ingredient diets are available in grain and grain-free options
  • Holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists created the recipe
  • Excellent customer reviews

Things to Consider

  • The large breed formula is made with big kibble pieces that are not suitable for small dogs
  • Some dogs might not like the taste
  • It’s a premium dog food with a higher price tag


Best Hemp Soft Chews for Dogs

Our pick: PetHonesty Hemp Mobility Snacks

Jar of hemp mobility chews for dogs

Support joint health and ease stiffness associated with aging and osteoarthritis with a supplement made from natural-and plant-derived ingredients, including hemp.

Highlights

  • Contains glucosamine, MSM, turmeric, green-lipped mussels and organic hemp seed oil and powder to support connective tissue and joint health
  • Antioxidants reduce inflammation
  • No GMOs, wheat, corn, soy or other preservatives
  • Made in the USA in an FDA-registered facility
  • Veterinarian-recommended 
  • Great customer reviews

Things to Consider

  • Dogs might not like the duck flavor
  • Made with animal-derived ingredients, including green lipped mussels and egg shell meal, which is not suitable for dogs on vegan diets
  • Not formulated for cats
  • Dogs over 75 pounds need three snacks per day and the costs add up

Best Topical Pain Reliever for Dogs

Our pick: Sulfodene 3-Way Ointment

If your dog has minor aches and pains, applying an all-natural topical ointment could help. The active ingredients (benzocaine and salicylic acid) are effective for treating skin issues, preventing infection and alleviating hot spots.

Highlights

  • Used to relieve joint pain
  • Bonus: It’s a first aid solution that also helps provide a barrier against germs and protects from infection.
  • Can ease irritation from painful cuts, scrapes, bites and abrasions
  • Also contains cooling/healing essential oils such as thyme and clove
  • Easy to apply
  • Affordable 
  • Made in the USA

Things to Consider

  • Intended for external use and should not be used in the ears, nose, mouth
  • Dogs might lick it off. (The topical ointment is not harmful if a dog licks it but could be an irritant if ingested in large amounts.)
  • Not to be used on cats

Best Herbal Pain Relief Supplement for Dogs

Our pick: MediNatura T-Relief Arnica

An herbal pain relief supplement can help ease minor joint and muscle pain due to overexertion. Give your dog a chewable tablet made from plant-based ingredients after a long walk or other physical activities.

Highlights

  • Alleviates pain in joints, muscles, nerves
  • Plant-based pain relief made with all-natural ingredients, including arnica, calendula, Echinacea and hypericum
  • Suitable for dogs and cats
  • Made in the USA
  • Chewable tablet 
  • Affordable

Things to Consider

  • Your pet might not want to take the tablet
  • Must be given three times per day
  • No information about flavoring 

Best Dissolving Strips for Pain Relief for Dogs

Our pick: PetStrips Hip & Joint Relief

Older dogs that suffer with age-related joint stiffness and impaired mobility can benefit from flavored strips that were designed to reduce pain and inflammation and improve joint health.

Highlights

  • Glucosamine, chondroitin and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) act as anti-inflammatories that help lubricate joints, reduce inflammation and ease pain.
  • Flavored strips dissolve in the mouth
  • Fast-acting relief
  • Packets are individually sealed and can be offered on the go

Things to Consider

  • No information about the “all-natural flavor”
  • Ingredients are derived from animal sources; not a vegan product.
  • Large dogs (over 70 pounds) need up to two strips per day, increasing the cost