If you’re anything like me or most people I know, you’d do anything for the increase the comfort + health of your pupper. Having a sick or injured dog is the absolute worst. While you should always go to the vet for a prescription if your dog is having serious issues, there are many at-home remedies that allow you to care for your pet and cut down on vet costs. There are even some human over the counter options that can also work as medicine for dogs.
To help sort through what over the counter medicine you can give your dog, I spoke with Dr. Stevie Aitken, DVM. Dr. Aitken works at Valley Ranch Animal Hospital as a small animal general practitioner. She has a passion for nutrition, behavior, and client education to help people better care for their pets. Below are some medications that Dr. Aitken says are safe to give your dog as well as dosage recommendations. Please consult with your personal vet before giving any over the counter medication to your dog.
Over the Counter Medicine for Dogs
- Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) – Benadryl can be used to treat allergic reactions, motion sickness, and seasonal allergies in both dogs and people. Be sure to check the label for Xylitol (typically in children’s liquid medication) which is toxic to dogs. Dosage: 1 mg per lb.
- Zyrtec (Cetirizine) – This drug treats itchiness that is not a result of an allergic reaction. This medication can be given daily to help with allergies. Dosage: 1 mg per 1 kg (1mg per 1/2 lb).
- Dramamine Low Drowsy Formula (Meclizine HCL): Dramamine is an over the counter medicine that can help dogs with motion sickness. Dosage: varies but I typically do 12.5 mg for small dogs and 25 mg for large, once every 24 hours.
- Pepcid (Famotidine): This medication treats upset stomachs, diarrhea, and gastric acid build-up. Dosage is 1 mg/kg with rounding to the nearest 5mg tablet every 12 hours (1 mg per 1/2 lb). If you don’t want to use over the counter medication for your dog for this issue, pumpkin, boiled chicken, and rice have been known to alleviate the issues as well.
- Fish Oil: This supplement is excellent to help dogs dealing with joint issues. It can also help their skin and coat. Dosage is based on metabolic weight, not actual weight so please consult your vet + stick to veterinary specific products that come with better dosage information. Dr. Aitken says every dog should be taking fish oil.
- Joint supplements aside from fish oil can be used as well, but to be effective, they need to include Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin, and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Cosequin and Dausquin are two good options.
While not fully exhaustive, I hope this list allows you to feel a little more comfortable using over the counter medicine for your dog. Remember, every dog is different so please check with your vet before giving your dog any new medication. A final note from Dr. Aitken says,
NO pain medication or anti-inflammatory labeled for humans is considered safe to give over the counter and you should ALWAYS consult your vet for pain management.
There are plenty of other things you can do to keep your dog healthy when they aren’t feeling under the weather. Regular walks are a great way to keep both you + your dog in shape + can be good for their joints. You also want to make sure you’re giving them good food that gives them a balanced. Dr. Aitken shares nutrition and other pet tips frequently on her Instagram so be sure to give her a follow!