Can I Give My Dog Over the Counter Pain Medications or Melatonin?

There is no quick answer to whether you can give pain medication or melatonin to a dog. However, if you break the question into its two parts, answering it gets a little easier. The short answer to giving your dog over the counter pain medications is no. Do not give your animal any sort of medication without veterinary supervision and dosing. 

However, you may be able to give your dog melatonin. Let’s first explore what giving your dog pain medications, and then we will discuss how and when to give your dog melatonin.

Pain Medication

There are many types of pain medications available from NSAIDs and acetaminophen to supplements like CBD oil. In general, giving your dog a pain medication without doctor supervision is never recommended.

Over the counter medications are meant for human consumption, not animals. Dosing would be different, and some of the human medications are toxic to animals. 


The reasons you may want to give your dog pain medications vary from owner to owner. Sometimes your pet may have had an accident, been in a scuffle, or merely be getting older and having arthritis symptoms. It is certainly understandable to want to make your pet feel better. 

If you are concerned about your pet’s health, please consult your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to provide you with adequate medication and plans to help your dog feel better. If you are concerned about costs, consider a pet health plan or payment plan. Many vet’s offices provide these. 

What Can I Do Instead? 

This depends on the needs of your dog. Sometimes your vet will prescribe NSAIDs that are formulated for dogs. However, even these are sometimes dangerous. On rare occasions, your doctor may allow you to give your dog over the counter medications at specific doses for short periods. If your dog gets a prescription or you use over the counter medications, make sure that you follow the dosing and schedule precisely. 

There are also some chances of side effects. Web MD1 suggests that you watch for:
Behavior Changes Eating Less Skin Redness or Scabs Tarry Stool/ Diarrhea Vomiting
Are There Alternatives?

Yes, sometimes changing your dog’s diet or exercise may help. Believe it or not, food can sometimes cause inflammation in pets. You may choose to change your dog’s food to see if he or she begins to feel better. In addition to food changes, more exercise or specific exercises may help. Your doctor can help you formulate a plan that is best for your dog. 

Also, there may be some supplements that you may give your dog. Before giving your dog anything, you should check with the vet. He or she can tell you what you need to give your pet and at what dose. Dogs’ systems behave differently when they metabolize medications than humans. 

You cannot use the same formula between the two. CBD oil is a popular medication for dogs, but be sure you speak to your vet before administering it to ensure that you get the right formula and dosage. 

What About Melatonin? Can I Give That to My Dog? 

The answer here is maybe. Melatonin is considered relatively safe for dogs, but there are some precautions you may need to take. First, we will explore why you may choose to give your dog melatonin and what you need to be aware of when giving your pet melatonin. You will also need to know typical dosing. 

Why Might Someone Give a Dog Melatonin? 

Dogs need supplements for many reasons. Melatonin is typically given for four main reasons…

Sleep Disruptions 

One of the causes of sleep disruptions is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. This condition is like Alzheimer’s in humans. If your pet is suffering from this condition, melatonin may help them remain calm and less confused. 

Age can also contribute to sleep disruptions. Older dogs may not sleep as well, just like older humans. If your dog’s sleep pattern has been disrupted and he or she is having trouble, melatonin could help. 


Anxiety is present in many dogs. There is no reason that one dog suffers from anxiety, but another does not. If your dog seems to have overwhelming anxiety, you should consider discussing melatonin with your vet. 

This is a benign thyroid tumor. Melatonin may help provide the hormones that your dog is missing. 


In dogs, melatonin can stimulate hair growth. There is little to no scientific evidence of this, but many owners and veterinarians think it may help.

Is There Harm in Giving My Dog Melatonin? 

In general, there may not be much harm in melatonin, but there may be other ingredients that cause issues. Like anything, dogs can have sensitivities to melatonin, and there are some common side effects that you may notice. 


Never give your dog anything containing xylitol. This sugar substitute is perfectly fine for humans, but in dogs, it is toxic. Xylitol causes your dog’s kidneys to shut down. 

Even a minimal dose can be fatal to dogs. If you give your dog any table food or over the counter supplements not formulated for dogs, watch out for xylitol. 

Side Effects of Melatonin

Melatonin may cause many side effects. You may notice allergy-like symptoms such as itching, watery eyes, sneezing, or coughing. In addition to allergy symptoms, insulin resistance, upset stomach, and drowsiness may occur with melatonin. 

Drowsiness is the only side effect that may be intended by the dosing. If you notice any of these side effects, contact your doctor at once. 

How Much Do I Give My Dog? 

In general, dosings are 1.5 mg for dogs under 25 pounds, 3 mg for dogs 26-100 pounds, and 3-6 mg for dogs over 100 pounds, according to Dogtime2. Since these weights are estimates, you should speak to your doctor about the dosage that best suits your dog’s needs and conditions. 

Final Thoughts 

Do not give your dog anything without speaking to the vet first. Even if your friend safely did the same thing, you should proceed with caution because each breed or individual dog may react differently. See your vet for more information.

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