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The only over the counter pain reliever that is relatively safe is buffered aspirin and even that can't be given all the time. Buffered aspirin can be given to a dog with a dosage of up to 5-10 mg per pound every 12 hours for pain. Keep in mind that a dog's body does not metabolize aspirin in the same way as a human and thus should not be given more than a day or two without contacting your Vet. The aspirin may need to clear your dog’s system before other medications can be given, so keep that in mind if you decide to give aspirin and be sure and tell your vet when your dog is seen. Read side effects and precautions here.
If you do not have him on senior dog food with glucosamine, you might want to do that as it can help with joint issues. For pain related to a disc issue, your vet may prescribe. Now common pain relievers your vet might prescribe would be tramadol or Gabapentin. However, often pain can be relieved by reducing the inflammation so often other medications such as rimadyl or metacam are prescribed to help ease the pain by reducing the inflammation.
If you want to read on the various medication often prescribed, the following page is very helpful and you can discuss the choices with your vet.
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