The experience of pain is not unique to humans; dogs of all ages and sizes can suffer too. It can be heartbreaking to watch our beloved pets in pain, not knowing how to help them. Thankfully, there are several steps we can take to reduce their discomfort and help them to manage their pain. From providing supportive care to seeking the advice of a veterinarian, there are countless ways to provide relief to our animals in pain. Unfortunately, giving your dog over the counter medication, such as Tylenol, is not one of those ways and can put them in further pain.  

Signs That Your Dog is in Pain 

It can be difficult to tell if a dog is in pain, as they cannot express it in the same way as humans. Nevertheless, there are certain behaviors that could indicate your pet is in discomfort. Below are a few behaviors that can be an indication your pet is in pain. If any of these behaviors are present, it is best to consult your veterinarian to ensure there are no underlying issues. 

  • Abnormal sitting or lying posture 
  • Decrease in appetite 
  • Restlessness 
  • Whining, groaning, crying or growling 
  • Limping, unwilling to get up, move or lie down 
  • Trembling 
  • Rapid, shallow breathing 
  • Aggression 
  • Licking or biting the affected area 
  • Hiding  

It may be tempting to reach for that bottle of Tylenol but think again. Tylenol should never be administered to dogs, as it can cause severe liver damage and a condition called methemoglobinemia. This occurs when hemoglobin is unable to release oxygen into the body tissues, resulting in anemia due to oxygen deprivation. If you believe your dog is in pain, it is best to consult your veterinarian for the appropriate treatment. 

What To Do If Your Dog is in Pain 

If you notice that your dog is exhibiting any of the behaviors listed above or showing other signs that they are in pain, call your veterinarian and Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 to determine a plan of action. If your dog is in pain and you are waiting for your vet to evaluate them, there are a few things you can do to make them more comfortable at home.  

  • Apply a cold compress to the affected area for 10 minutes several times a day, ensuring the ice pack is not placed directly on the skin and the area returns to a normal body temperature before applying the next compress 
  • Restrict your pet’s activity level, keeping them in a small room or kennel and avoiding activities such as running, jumping on furniture, and the use of stairs 
  • Provide plenty of bedding and blankets for your pet to rest comfortably 
  • Make sure they have easy access to plenty of food and water 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s condition or your dog has ingested over-the-counter medication not prescribed by your veterinarian, please contact your vet and Pet Poison Helpline®.