Many over-the-counter medications specifically formulated for dogs are available. Some of these products include anti-inflammatory medications. With the canine-specific drugs now available, it is becoming increasingly less necessary to use medications formulated for humans on dogs.
Anti-Inflammatory Drugs vs. Analgesics
An inflammation is a localised area of swelling, redness and pain that acts as a protective response at the point of an injury. An anti-inflammatory drug is one that reduces the symptoms associated with an inflammation. By contrast, an analgesic specifically targets pain without reducing inflammation or the associated rise in body temperature (see Resources).
Canine vs. Human Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Certain drugs formulated for humans, such as buffered aspirin, are generally safe for dogs. Some formulations, like enteric-coated aspirin, are less effective for dogs than for humans because of the differences that exist in human and canine physiology. It is always best to use canine formulations of similar drugs when the opportunity exists, particularly in the case of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Availability of Canine Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Canine anti-inflammatory drugs are available on a limited basis at department stores and pet superstores. Some speciality pet stores might carry a larger selection. Canine anti-inflammatory drugs are also readily available online.
Expense of Canine Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Due to the greater availability of human-formulated OTC anti-inflammatory drugs, they are typically less expensive than corresponding canine formulations.
Unsafe Human Over-the-Counter Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, human-formulated NSAIDs "are the most common causes of pet poisoning in small animals, and can cause serious problems even in minimal doses." Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ketoprofen (Orudis), which can cause permanent liver damage in dogs.