Safe Alternatives to Rimadyl for Dogs

Updated July 23, 2018

Rimadyl is a pharmaceutical drug for dogs that is most often prescribed to relieve the pain of canine arthritis. According to an article published by USA Today, nearly 15 million dogs had taken Rimadyl for pain relief by 2005. Controversy built around the use of Rimadyl as reports of dangerous, and even deadly, side effects grew. Dog owners looking for safe alternatives to the drug may be glad to know that several effective choices are available.

Natural Alternatives

According to the website Natural Dog Health Remedies, there are several herbal remedies that can help alleviate joint pain in dogs. Some are taken internally and others are used as topical ointments.

Feverfew is one of the most used herbal remedies for arthritis pain in humans. It can safely be given to dogs in tincture from or as a decoction (a strong tea).

Liquorice contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin, which is similar in structure to the corticosteroids produced naturally by the adrenal glands. It is effective for reducing pain and swelling in joints. An oil infusion of liquorice can be massaged directly into the effected areas. An oil infusion can be made by adding tincture of liquorice to a nourishing oil such as olive oil.

Cayenne contains capsaicin, a natural pain blocker that also increases circulation. Cayenne is typically applied as a topical cream for stiff or painful joints. Cayenne or capsaicin creams can be purchased at your veterinarian's office or through online sources.

Turmeric's anti-inflammatory capabilities are said to be comparable to cortisone. Dry turmeric can be sprinkled on a dog's food or given in capsule form as a dietary supplement.

In addition to supplements and topical treatments, Natural Dog Health Remedies suggests acupuncture and massage to help relieve pain in dogs.

Proponents of canine acupuncture claim that even dogs suffering chronic pain can feel lasting relief with only a few treatments. Massage and acupuncture have no risky side effects and dogs often find them to be enjoyable activities.

See the Resources section of this article to find out more about canine acupuncture.

Pharmaceutical Alternatives

Corticosteroids such as prednisolone are often prescribed for canine arthritis because they reduce pain and inflammation.

NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, are the most commonly used pain killers for dogs, especially for pain related to arthritis. Name brands of NSAIDs include Etogesic, Metacam, Dermaxx and Novox.

Opioids are reserved for the most severe pain. Veterinarians prefer using opioids when strong pain relief is needed because they are generally safe, with mild side effects. Some types of opioids are morphine, buprenorphine, naloxone hydrochloride and tramadol.

Additional Support

As with humans, glucosamine supplements are found to be an effective treatment for arthritis. There are glucosamine supplements being produced specifically for canines. Canine glucosamine supplements often include other herbs or substances that are thought to improve joint mobility such as alfalfa, fish oil, magnesium and vitamin E. These types of supplements may be purchased from your veterinarian's office or through a variety of online sources.

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About the Author

Jo Burns has been a freelance writer since 1980. She specializes in articles relating to home and garden, alternative health care, travel, writing and crafting. In 2007, Burns received an M.F.A. in creative writing.