I don't want my dog on pain medication, what else can I do?

As you can imagine, I hear this a lot.

Pain medications, herbs and joint supplements
Providing pain relief

I know how you feel. Four years ago I had to make the "awful decision" to put my beautiful girl on veterinary prescribed anti-inflammatory pain medication to manage her pain.


The realisation that massage alone was not going to be enough was extremely tough to bear. But when I am in pain I can choose to take medication or to live with the pain. My beautiful girl does not have that option, she relies totally on me and my decision.


I have seen the damage these drugs do to the internal organs, so how to decide?


The decision was difficult and the guilt I felt was immense. So to delay the inevitable, I introduced higher strength joint supplements as well as Turmeric and Green Lipped Mussel but it was clear that these weren't going to be enough.


I had to decide between leaving my dog in significant pain or introducing pain medication that could shorten her life by causing organ damage. In the end, the guilt of leaving her in pain outweighed the guilt of using pain medication.

"Looking back on that time now I cannot believe I left it so long to give her the pain relief she needed and deserved!"
Running lurcher
Eva enjoying life with the help of pain medication

I believe in quality over quantity. For me, having a good quality life outweighs a longer life filled with pain and the anxiety and fear that this causes.


My girl is lucky! Her pain is managed by a combination of veterinary prescribed pain medication, regular massage, core strength exercises and dietary supplements.


I believe she is on lower levels of medication because of the regular massage and specific exercises and this helps protect her internal organs as much as possible.


In my experience, many owners are not aware that their dog is in pain because they are incredibly good at hiding it! Some signs to look for can be found here. Or you can download the Canine Massage Guild's 5 Principles of Pain which gives a more comprehensive list of pain indicators here. If after checking these links you think your dog may be in pain, a visit to the vet to discuss your options is highly recommended.


As owners, we owe it to our dogs to provide the best life possible, and to me this means using pain medications when they are needed.


So sometimes I ask owners to speak to their vet about pain medications for their dogs. This might be needed for the short to medium term to allow your dog to heal and to allow me to work safely and build trust with your dog. But sometimes, as with my girl and her arthritis, the pain medication will be needed for the rest of their life.


But with regular massage, dietary supplements, other complementary therapies and making changes to a dogs' lifestyle the medication can be kept at a lower dose for longer. Lifestyle changes I have made personally include:

  • more frequent but shorter walks

  • reduced access to stairs

  • keeping her back warm overnight using a 'Back on Track' coat

  • keeping her off hard, slippery floors

  • lifting her in and out of the car

  • avoiding stony, uneven ground

So, I will do everything possible to support my dogs to remain mobile and pain free and I always look at what can be done to keep her medication to the minimum required to keep her comfortable.


The guilt of putting her on drugs that could shorten her life has subsided and the joy I feel seeing her moving, playing and enjoying her life fills me up every day.

"Our dogs do not live long enough, but they do deserve a good life."
Dog on massage table getting a massage
Eva enjoying her massage

Can massage help reduce the pain medication your dog needs to stay comfortable? Why not get in touch and find out.


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