Over The Counter Pain Medications And Your Pet

One of the most common calls we get at Ridgewood Animal Hospital are calls asking about giving over the counter pain medications to cats and dogs. While the intentions are always good, doing this frequently causes far more harm than good for your pet. Here is a list of some of the drugs that are most frequently asked about.


While this drug does have some pain relieving effects, it can be easily overdosed, especially in small dogs and cats. Patients with kidney and liver dysfunction should not be given it. Intestinal irritation, stomach ulceration and possibly stomach perforation are side effects. Aspirin also interacts with multiple other drugs. NEVER give your pet an unbuffered aspirin as the side effects are amplified.

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (Advil, Aleve, others)

Dogs and cats DO NOT metabolize all NSAIDs the same way people do. Once again cats are extremely sensitive and there is no such thing as a “safe dose.” Dogs are also highly sensitive and should not be given anything over the counter. Gastrointestinal distress, stomach ulceration and perforation, kidney and liver damage can all result from giving an inappropriate NSAID. There are SAFE NSAIDs for both dogs and cats but these are prescription only.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

This drug is NOT SAFE for cats at ANY dosage. Giving this drug to your cat will result in serious injury needing aggressive hospitalization at best, and death at worst. Dogs also do not metabolize this drug well but the effects are less severe than in cats. As seen with other drugs, gastrointestinal, stomach, liver and kidneys are the most commonly affected systems.

No one ever wants to see their pets in pain. However, by giving something over the counter, people inadvertently cause serious damage to their pets without even providing the pain control they were trying to provide. In addition, these drugs can interact with appropriate drugs, leaving the veterinarian unable to properly treat your pet. Safe and effective prescription medications are available and tailored specifically to your pet’s individual medical needs.

If you have any questions about pain control in your pets, please call Ridgewood Animal Hospital at 434-525-2111 and we will happily assist you.