Naproxen, also known by the brand name Aleve®, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that works best on dogs with chronic pain caused by inflammation. Chronic pain is defined as continuing pain due to an injury or deterioration in the body such as arthritis. Veterinarians may prescribe naproxen for dogs with joint pain, arthritis, and canine hip dysplasia — an inherited condition in which the hip ball and socket are loose. This drug may also be prescribed to dogs for its fever reducing properties. The proper dosage of naproxen for dogs can be determined by a veterinarian based on the animal's weight and other factors.
Side effects of naproxen for dogs have been noted by both pet owners and veterinarians. Stomach irritation, stomach bleeding gastric ulcers and vomiting are some of the negative effects. It is not recommended to use naproxen for dogs that have a history of kidney, liver or blood disorders or for dogs that seem hypersensitive or allergic to the drug. Most experts say that naproxen should never be prescribed for cats.
Owners should never administer naproxen to a dog without veterinarian supervision due to the possible side effects. A veterinarian will know the proper dosage of naproxen based on the size and age of the dog as well as the cause of the pain. In addition, a veterinarian will consider the full array of analgesics available to alleviate pain in dogs, and may prescribe another analgesic better suited based on certain factors.
There are many options for pain relief in dogs. For example, the pain medication Tramadol®, which is an NSAID but behaves like a narcotic, is sometimes prescribed. According to some experts, anti-depressants can also have an impact in lessening chronic pain. Corticosteroids are sometimes used as well. Although these drugs do not reduce pain, their anti-inflammatory benefits may help to ease the source of the pain.
For a dog with joint pain or arthritis, many experts recommend weight loss if the dog is too heavy. Reduced weight lightens the pressure on a dog’s spine and joints. Of course, weight loss benefits the dog’s cardiovascular system as well.
Signs of pain in dogs are not always obvious, but owners should try to be aware of behavior that indicates discomfort. These include loss of appetite, limping, restlessness, trembling and aggressiveness. A behavioral change like hiding may be another indicator. Dog owners should consult a veterinarian when signs of pain persist.