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Pain Relief for Dogs and Cats: 8 Best Products to Try

Dog and cat laying on rug looking a little sad

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

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

Why Do Pets Need Pain Relief?

Cat and dog sleeping on a blanket together

Pets can experience both acute and chronic pain. Your cat or 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 and Cats

Cat and dog sleeping together on a blanket

Your veterinarian is the best resource for diagnosing the cause of your pet’s pain and developing a treatment plan. In addition to a physical exam that could include blood work and X-rays, your vet might also rely on the “grimace scale,” a tool that uses your pet’s facial expressions to gauge their pain levels.

“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 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 and Cats

Dog with prescription pain pill in foreground

There are countless prescription pain medications designed for pets. 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 cats and 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 or cat 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 and acetaminophen, the active ingredient in pain relievers like Tylenol, is fatal to cats.

Natural Pain Relief for Dogs and Cats: What to Look For

Dog and cat being held by their owner

There are several natural pain relief options for dogs and cats 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 and cats 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 pet 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.

8 Best Products to Help Provide Pain Relief for Dogs and Cats

All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Best Hemp Oil for Pet Pain Relief

Our pick: HempMy Pet’s Hemp Oil

Bottle of hemp seed oil

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 Hip and Joint Soft Chews for Dogs

Our pick: The Anxious Pet Hip & Joint Soft Chews

Jar of hip and joint soft chews for dogs

These veterinarian-formulated soft chews offer a delicious way to support joint health. Your dog will love the peanut butter flavor and the chews are as simple to give as treats with the added benefit of pain relief. 

Highlights

  • Reduces inflammation, eases pain and improves mobility
  • Natural ingredients include glucosamine, chondroitin, organic turmeric, willow bark and organic flaxseed
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Easier to administer than liquid tinctures
  • Also available in a CBD formula
  • Easy-to-follow dosing instructions

Things to Consider

  • Not recommended for cats
  • Only available in a single flavor (peanut butter)
  • Not a meal replacement

Best Hip and Joint Soft Chews for Cats

Our pick: Pet Naturals of Vermont Hip + Joint Cat Chews

packet of hip and joint chews for cats

The soft chews, formulated with glucosamine and chondroitin, can support joint health and improve joint function and flexibility in cats. 

Highlights

  • Specially formulated for cats
  • Formulated with natural ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and Perna canaliculus that were designed to support healthy joints and reduce pain
  • No wheat, corn, sugar or artificial ingredients
  • Made in the USA 
  • Affordable option for joint support

Things to Consider

  • Might not be appropriate for pregnant or lactating cats
  • Could cause stomach upset
  • Might be mistaken for treats; monitor for accidental overdose 

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 and Cats

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 or cat 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 for dogs and cats 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 and Cats

Our pick: PetStrips Hip & Joint Relief

Older dogs and cats 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

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