Natural Pain Relief for Dogs

Black senior dog curled up on sofa looking at camera.
Older dogs may benefit from natural pain relief options.

Getty Images/Catherine Falls Commercial

No one likes to see a dog in pain, but, thankfully, there are many options for pet owners to explore so that they can help provide some comfort to their pets.

Some of these options are medications or drugs, but others are instead often referred to as natural pain relievers.

These options are not replacements for pain medications, but instead can be used as a complementary therapy that may result in being able to decrease the amount of drugs a dog receives. They can also sometimes be used in isolation to manage low levels of pain in some situations.

  • 01 of 07

    Acupuncture and Acupressure

    Close-up of dog getting acupuncture on head.
    Acupuncture uses tiny needles.

    Getty Images/Chip Simons

    Acupuncture is a form of Chinese or Eastern veterinary medicine and is often referred to as a holistic or alternative option. An increasing number of traditionally trained veterinarians are incorporating acupuncture into their Western medicine treatment plans and many dog owners are seeing the benefits.

    The process involves inserting tiny needles into specific parts of a dog's body called meridians to help the body heal itself. It is often used in dogs with painful conditions, such as arthritis, as well as to support dogs with various diseases like epilepsy and liver dysfunction.

    Acupressure works similarly, but instead of inserting a needle, pressure is simply put on the specific meridians. Both types of therapies require additional training so not all veterinarians offer these options.

  • 02 of 07

    Cold Therapy Laser

    Dog getting laser therapy on abdomen.
    Laser therapy can help relieve pain on many parts of the body.

    Getty Images/DenGuy

    Cold lasers are commonly used in veterinary medicine to promote healing as well as reduce pain and inflammation. There are several different kinds of lasers. Class IV cold therapy laser is a low-level type that is being increasingly popular as an additional treatment option for assisting in the management of chronic joint conditions and disc disease. It is also helpful for treating acute pain like a cruciate ligament tear and for helping to heal wounds.

    A handpiece is rolled or waved over the area in need and the invisible laser beams stimulate cells. Many veterinary hospitals and rehabilitation centers now utilize cold lasers as part of their regular therapies. The treatment only lasts a few minutes and is non-invasive for your dog.

  • 03 of 07

    Warm and Cold Compresses

    Dog with cold compress on head and neck.
    A cold compress can help soothe sore muscles.

    Getty Images/WebSubstance

    If your dog has experienced an injury, cold compresses can help relieve pain and inflammation for the first two to three days. After that, heat can help to ease more chronic pain.

    These compresses are easy to use at home and can be applied for five to ten minutes at a time, several times a day to help keep your dog feel more comfortable.

  • 04 of 07

    Joint Supplements

    Oval white scored pills spilled from a white plastic bottle on a red textured surface.
    Joint supplements may include a variety of ingredients.

    Getty Images/arnphoto

    There are a number of different ingredients that you may find in joint supplements and some are in there to specifically target discomfort and pain. Sometimes these compounds are even added into foods and they are referred to as nutraceuticals.

    Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), beta-glucans, manganese, glucosamine hydrochloride, sodium chondroitin sulfate, eggshell membrane, Boswellia serrata, Curcuma longa, and others are believed to support joint health by decreasing inflammation and increasing cartilage production.

    The end result is often a decrease in discomfort and pain, but some of these ingredients can take several weeks until they reach peak effectiveness. They are often used in conjunction with traditional medicines rather than instead of them.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

    Dog staring at Cannabis plant up close.
    CBD is naturally found in Cannabis plants.

    Getty Images/Svetlana Sarapultseva

    Hemp oil is a popular product primarily because of its cannabidiol (CBD) contents, but other natural plant properties may also help keep your dog comfortable.

    Full-spectrum hemp oil contains flavonoids, terpenes, and various phytocannabinoids that have been shown to help dogs with arthritis along with other conditions.

    Product purity and a guaranteed analysis are of utmost importance, though, as many products contain contaminants or less than what the label says it has in it. Also, the current research is minimal and there are still a lot of unknowns with regards to long-term use, dosages and efficacy.

    It's also important to remember that hemp oil is not the same as giving your dog marijuana, even though they may come from the same plant. Dogs should never receive marijuana.

  • 06 of 07

    Massage Therapy

    Greyhound getting a massage on a table.
    Massage can help soothe sore muscles.

    Getty Images/

    Scott Stulberg

    Massage therapy helps soothe sore muscles and, depending on the source of your dog's pain, may help provide them with some relief. Like acupuncture, acupressure, and chiropractic techniques, special training is needed to provide massage therapy to dogs.

  • 07 of 07

    Chiropractic Care

    Dog receiving spinal treatment.
    Veterinary chiropractors manipulate the spine to help relieve pain.

    Getty Images/BanksPhotos

    Some veterinarians are specially trained and certified to provide chiropractic care on dogs. These spinal manipulations may help to relieve pain in some dogs by improving motion and function. If your dog's source of pain involves its spine, ask your veterinarian if a chiropractic adjustment could be of benefit.

It's important to always discuss any natural remedies or alternative therapies with your veterinarian before administering them to your dog. This helps to ensure that there are no interactions with any other products you are currently giving to your dog and that it is truly safe for your specific dog and any diseases it may have.

When seeking out alternative therapy treatments for your dog this should always be with a fully qualified professional. Often holistic veterinarians will offer some of the above treatment options alongside conventional medicines.

If these and other natural treatment options do not provide enough pain relief to your dog, discuss adding in medications to the treatment regimen with your vet. Pain should not be ignored, and only using natural pain relief options can sometimes be harmful to your dog.