Which Over-The-Counter Medicines Are Safe For Dogs

Which Over-The-Counter Medicines Are Safe For Dogs (And how Safe Guard may help with common problems)

Many over-the-counter medications can safely be administered to dogs, but they should only be a temporary treatment 

Although these medications are without prescription, they can be toxic to dogs if used accurately. It is essential to consult a vet's opinion before giving over-the-counter drugs.

Below are possible details on safe over-the-counter medicines for dogs that cause serious problems.

Can I give my dog anything for pain?

Dogs live longer lives today as their health care continues to improve. For this reason, there's always the risk of risk pain and conditions that cause it.

There are multiple options for helping dogs in pain. Below are some signs of pain in dogs to look out for before consulting a vet on the best over-the-counter or prescription meds that are safe for dogs:

  • Licking, rubbing, biting, or chewing wound or surgery site
  • Restless or distracted easily
  • Not moving all or part of their body
  • Shifting their weight or limping to protect certain areas
  • Not interacting with people
  • Droopy ears, looking worried (shifty eyes, arched eyebrows)
  • Looking uncomfortable

Tylenol Acetaminophen (Tylenol / Excedrin)

This is one of the most common pain relief over-the-counter medications for dogs. However, too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage, kidney issues, the red blood cell's ability to carry oxygen, and digestive problems. Tylenol may not be safe for the dog when combined with other medications or allergy medications.

NSAIDS (Advil / Motrin / Ibuprofen)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often given to dogs to reduce joint pains, stiffness, and swelling. It provides excellent relief primarily to dogs who've had surgery and those with arthritis.

Too many NSAIDs may lead to side effects like seizures, kidney and liver problems, and stomach ulcers.

In case of overdose and potential side effects, immediately contact a veterinarian.

Buffered Aspirin

Dogs better tolerate aspirin with arthritis for pain relief. Safety-coated aspirin versions protect human stomachs but are a problem for a dog's digestive system. Plain tablets may irritate a dog's stomach, so buffered aspirin is recommended. This aspirin allows dogs to absorb the medication correctly while protecting their stomachs.

Ensure to give the dog buffered aspirin without added ingredients such as acetaminophen. Possible side effects include; stomach ulcers, increased internal bleeding risks, and kidney damage or internal bleeding. Buffered aspirin can be given in small doses with full meals.

Gabapentin Treats

This medication is often used for pain from damaged nerves in dogs. Its effect on the dog may make them sleepy in the first few days, but that fades away eventually.

What are the best dog allergy medicines for dog allergies?

Dogs have different types of environmental, skin, and food allergies. Allergy symptoms vary depending on the cause but the most common include:

  • Itchy ears and runny eyes
  • Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
  • Excessive itching, sneezing, and constant licking
  • Red, inflamed skin and hives
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Chronic ear infections

Below is a few over-the-counter drugs one can use for their dog's allergies:

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Benadryl is a standard human medicine used on dogs and popular in veterinary practice.

As an antihistamine drug, Benadryl has often been a treatment for mild allergies, travel anxiety, and motion sickness. Diphenhydramine is usually used with steroids, decongestants (such as phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine), and antibiotic medications to control allergic clinical signs.

Decongestants are not safe for dogs, so ensure to read all labels delicately to see that the product only contains diphenhydramine as an active ingredient.

However, if the dogs show the following signs; lower appetite, agitation, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhoea, dilated pupils, rapid heartbeat, sedation, dry mouth, seizures, breathing difficulty, urination retention, and constipation; it means they may have been administered too much Benadryl and need immediate medical attention.

Always confirm with a vet the perfect dosage for your dog and the possible side effects to look out for. It is not advisable to give pregnant dogs Benadryl for dogs with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or glaucoma. 

Apoquel (Oclacitinib)

This oral medication is primarily used in allergic itchiness for dogs around 12 months of age, given by mouth twice daily for up to 14 days.

Few side effects (such as skin, urinary tract, and respiratory infections or shortness of breath) are experienced by dogs if given according to label directions and prescribed intervals.

These side effects are infrequent, but the dog's medical history is still good; to contact a veterinarian immediately. These effects can be remedied by giving apoquel with food to sensitive dogs, but it can also be given without. 

Claritin (Loratadine)

This antihistamine medicine can be given to dogs for allergy and allergic reactions under veterinary directions. Claritin blocks the effects of histamine (an inflammatory biochemical resulting in skin redness and itching) in the body and comes in liquid and tablet form.

It benefits not to make dogs feel overly exhausted, but they may seem more relaxed. Alternatively, looking for side effects such as dry mouth or stomach problems is good, and contact a vet immediately.

Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

It is a mild antihistamine for hives, allergies, and insect bites issues in dogs. Just like Claritin, it also blocks the effects of histamine in the dog's body. Found in both tablet and liquid form, Zyrtec prescriptions should be followed for correct and safe dosage. Its typical side effects may be; unusual salivation, vomiting, and lethargy.

Before giving your dog Zyrtec, contact a vet and seek an emergency vet immediately for any suspicions of giving the dog too much of the dosage.


Antihistamines are perfect allergy and hive symptoms relievers. However, some possible ingredients in anti-allergy medications may contain decongestants that are harmful to a dog's health so give only meds that have an antihistamine. Some aspects of anti-allergy meds aren't safe for dogs, namely decongestants.


Administering daily probiotics to the dog helps ease allergy symptoms like itching, digestive issues, biting, and scratching by increasing healthy bacteria for their gut balance. Safe Guard's Soil Based Pre+Probiotics is highly recommended. In addition, you may add ingredients to the dog's diet to help strengthen their immune system, like Immunity Organic Mushroom Mix, also a product from SafeGuard.

What do I give my dog for gastrointestinal problems?

The gastrointestinal (GI) system has common problems such as abnormal stools, bloating, colic, constipation, flatulence, regurgitation, vomiting, weight loss, and diarrhoea which call for immediate examinations by a veterinarian.

Stomach medications like antacids in small doses are often safe for the dog and don't lead to significant side effects:

Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth subsalicylate)

These medicines are one of the safe human drugs administered to dogs and are used to treat diarrhoea and inflammation in the stomach. Minor stomach problems, such as stomach inflammation. A vet's examination will help determine whether it's safe for you to take this medication and what dosage is safe.

Imodium (Loperamide)

Imodium is a good treatment for diarrhoea in dogs, slowing intestinal movements, enhancing mucosal absorption, and decreasing intestinal secretions. It can be dangerous to certain breeds with specific genetic traits (especially collies) with side effects such as lethargy, vomiting, seizures, coma, diarrhoea, and, worse cases, death.

Does CBD (Cannabidiol) help dogs with anxiety?

CBD oils are compounds found in cannabis and hemp but are primarily derived from hemp.

These oils help dogs with anxiety because of an endocannabinoid system dogs have. In addition,  cannabidiol gives dogs a relaxing and easy sensation to living a better life.

It takes about 30-40 minutes to start effectiveness, lasts 4-8 hours, and is safe for dog consumption. However, the duration for the oils to kick in varies depending on the dog's size, breed, severity of symptoms, activity level, and age.

CBD oils are not prone to side effects, but some may include changes in liver enzyme values and diarrhoea. Moreover, it inhibits a chemical known as cytochrome P450 in the body that metabolises most drugs, rendering them ineffective.

If a drug is only safe when it is cleared from the body in a specific time frame, these oils may make it build up to toxic levels.

It is critical to choose CBD products with other cannabinoids and substances like terpenes not present in cannabis plants as they work best in conjunction with these.

CBD oils are the most effective way to treat dog anxiety, and owners may give small doses to gauge their dog's reactions before increasing if needed.

What are common OTC drugs for dogs?

Some over-the-counter drugs may be harmful to dogs, but there are some safe drugs.

Every dog has a remarkable medical history. Here are some OTC drugs that might be recommended for your dog:

Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate)

Travel-related anxieties are commonly treated using Dramamine but overdosing is relatively easy. Its side effects may be lethargy, difficulty urinating and breathing, vomiting, dry mouth, loss of appetite,  seizures, and diarrhoea. In cases of recurring motion sickness, ensure checkups from a vet.

Hydrogen peroxide

In cases when a dog ingests a poisonous substance, giving hydrogen peroxide helps induce vomiting. Also, it may be an excellent topical treatment to disinfect wounds.

Hydrocortisone cream

This cream is used in small amounts twice daily for hives, itchy skin,  bug bites, and bee stings; make sure to use it in areas where the dog can't reach out and lick because they can be toxic to their health. Its usage should be limited to avoid behavioural changes, nausea, and weakness.


This medication treats inflammation caused by allergies, arthritis, Addison's, and autoimmune diseases. Its side effects include vomiting, upset stomach, fatigue,  insomnia,  and nausea. It can also harm dogs with health conditions such as heart, liver, and kidney disease.


It relieves joint discomfort, stiffness, and pain for most dogs by speeding up their natural healing process. These drugs also stimulate cartilage growth, but for severe cases of joint pain, they are used with vet-approved anti-inflammatory medications.

What human medicines are safe for dogs?

Not all human medicines give positive results when administered to dogs. Some may be dangerous and lead to fatal conditions for dogs.

Every dog owner desires to know what to give their pets for symptoms like coughing, diarrhoea, and vomiting before examinations by a vet.

Below are some over-the-counter drugs to safely use for your dog's health at home:

Psyllium (Metamucil)

This is a bulk-forming laxative commonly used in dogs for constipation and watery diarrhoea, which may also be treated with a bland diet. Always ensure the dog has plenty of fresh water to drink before administering Metamucil.

Simethicone  (Gas-X)

This is an anti-flatulence and anti-foaming agent for treating burping, discomfort, bloating, pain, and flatulence resulting from a dog's excessive intestinal gas. Gas-X is a generic drug that is safe for dogs of all ages.

Famotidine (Pepcid)

This is histamine that decreases the acid production in the dog's stomach. Pepcid has an improved length of action and mechanism for treating stomach problems like ulcerations, nausea, and vomiting.


This drug is commonly used for a dog's coughing symptoms which should never be ignored. Coughing can be caused by; asthma, upper airway disease, heart disease, airway disease, cancer, or heartworm disease. However, it is vital to book appointments with a vet at the first signs of coughing for early diagnosis and treatments of possible underlying causes.

Final Thought

Make sure to store all medications in sealed and secure places outside your pet's reach.

Some human medications may be dangerous. Do not administer over-the-counter medications to a dog before being approved by a veterinarian.

Medications for dogs are attached to their specific conditions and causes. It is wrong to assume that safe drugs for other dogs might be safe for you.

Other over-the-counter drugs may treat or worsen the dog's symptoms and general health.