Traditional Pain Medications
Traditional prescription pain medications (e.g., nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or opioids) are helpful in providing fast relief for back pain, says Dr. Michel Selmer, a certified traditional Chinese veterinary medicine practitioner at Advanced Animal Care Center in Huntington Station, New York.
But if used incorrectly, they can do more harm than good.
The temporary sense of relief they provide may encourage your dog to be more active than they should be, which could further exacerbate whatever injury or condition is causing the pain, says Dr. Selmer.
However, leaving a pet’s pain untreated in an attempt to limit activity is cruel and unethical.
Veterinarians will often combine a prescription for a pain reliever with a recommendation for rest or limited, controlled exercise (e.g., leash walking) to prevent such issues.
Some types of pain medications, like corticosteroids, can also stop or slow the immune system reactions that the body needs to heal, Dr. Gladstein says. That’s why she’s not a big proponent of using them on her patients. “You have a lot of other options available to you,” she says.
Veterinarians may also prescribe muscle relaxants and nutritional supplements, or even recommend surgery if your dog’s back pain is severe enough.