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Muscle Relaxers for Dogs

Muscle Relaxers for Dogs
Muscle pull, sprain, spasms, inflammations or stiffness are quite natural and common among dogs, as is for humans. Treatment for relaxing muscles is also similar for dogs, in the form of medications or natural home remedies. Muscle relaxers for dogs are pain relieving medications that are helpful in curing muscle pain or inflammation.
DogAppy Staff
Last Updated: Jan 20, 2018
Well, just like us humans, even dogs suffer from muscle spasms, pain, cramps, etc., and so there are many muscle relaxers available these days to alleviate their pain and discomfort. As a dog lover, you notice something ailing your pet and sometimes act on your instinct to administer medicines, ending up more worried and anxious. It is good to be informed of the medicines that your pet may need for different ailments, however, it is best to consult the vet even if you are sure about the ailment, because different situations may need different medication.

Causes of Muscle Pain in Dogs
  • Overexertion or over-extension of muscles while playing or jumping around.
  • Immobility for a long time can also be a reason for muscle pain or stiffness.
  • Misalignment of muscle joints due to wrong posture can result in muscle pain. This causes muscles in the relaxed posture to burden the other muscles in order to compensate its own position and weight.
Possible Symptoms
Dogs have the natural instinct to hide pain to avoid showing their weakness or vulnerability. This is a survival skill that it adopts to appear stronger.
  • A lump or hunched posture that may cause limping in the dog.
  • Panting excessively while at rest.
  • Staring far away for a long time.
  • The dog gets up and lays down frequently or in a circular motion, showing signs of restlessness or impatience.
  • Quiet whimpering, crying or howling in pain.
Muscle Relaxers for Dogs
Muscle relaxers are drugs that relieve pain, stiffness or swelling from strains, muscle cramps or other muscle injuries. These medications don't heal the injuries or disorders but help in relaxing the muscles and alleviating pain by modifying the stretch reflex arc, or by interfering with the excitation-coupling process in the muscle itself. These relaxers work by blocking the inter-neuronal pathways in the spinal cord and in the mid-brain reticular activating system, and hence, are highly beneficial for dogs experiencing intense pain. However, the right type of medication and dosage, depending upon the dog breed and intensity of muscle pain, has to be administered under a vet's guidance.
  • Methocarbamol: It's a common muscle relaxer that works as a therapy for acute inflammatory and traumatic conditions of skeletal muscles, and reduces muscle spasms. Over-dosage of methocarbamol is characterized by central nervous system (CNS) depression, emesis, salivation, weakness and ataxia.
  • Guaifenesin: Also called glyceryl guaiacolate, it's a muscle relaxant that blocks the nerve impulse transmission at critical parts of the brain, brain stem and spinal cord; that works as a support when the dog is put on anesthesia for minor surgeries. Guaifenesin is used for treating strychnine intoxication in dogs and relaxes both laryngeal and pharyngeal muscles, without causing much effect on the diaphragm and respiratory function.
  • Benzodiazepine: It's a spinal cord depressant that affects polysynaptic reflexes at the supra-spinal level and inhibits pre-synaptic acetylcholine release. Diazepam, a type of benzodiazepine, is used as an adjunct to anesthesia for short procedures.
  • Dantrolene: Unlike other skeletal muscle relaxants, it's a hydantoin derivative that has a direct effect on the muscle, by interfering with the release of calcium from the sarcoplasmic reticulum. It has no observable effects on the respiratory and cardiac function, but may lead to dizziness and sedation. As a veterinary medicine, Dantrolene is used to treat malignant hyperthermia and porcine stress syndrome in different species.
  • Rimadyl: It's a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to alleviate pain and inflammation due to osteoarthritis in dogs. Carprofen, the active ingredient in Rimadyl, provides a supportive treatment for the relief of arthritic symptoms in dogs. It can be used for both short-term or day-to-day relief from joint pain and inflammation associated with hip dysplasia, and other forms of joint deterioration.
  • Phenytoin, Diazepam, Tramadol HCL, etc., are some other muscle relaxers meant for dogs, that can be used to cure moderate to severe muscle pain. Although they are highly effective and apparently have no side effects, it's recommended to consult a veterinarian before giving these medications to your dog.
Natural Muscle Relaxers
  • Massage: Anxiety and restlessness that accompany muscle pain can be treated at home with a therapeutic massage with aroma therapy, which is very effective. While lavender is a natural home remedy for anxiety that will result into calming down your pet, the ginger-flavored therapy works as an anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Ice: Just like we use ice on a swollen muscle, it can be equally effective for your pet to decrease the soft tissue swelling that occurs with muscle pain.
  • Warm Compresses: These can be used to the same effect as caused by ice, to provide comfort, relief from pain and swelling.
  • Valerian Root: This is a natural herb that acts as an anti-inflammatory and relaxes spasms. It can be very effective as a pain reliever for your pet.
  • Licorice Root: The anti-inflammatory agents in this natural herb are beneficial for skin, liver or the immune system of your pet.
  • Chamomile Tea: This is an herbal tea that can be used as a muscle relaxer in combination with other herbs.
  • White Willow Bark: This works wonders as a muscle relaxer that provides pain relief, reduces inflammation, and can also reduce fever and act as a blood-thinner, much like an aspirin. It is often used for treating arthritis in dogs.
  • Passiflora This natural herb helps in relaxing the nervous system and calms down the nerves.
Possible Side Effects
Overdose of any of these medications or herbs could cause notable side effects in your pet, like drowsiness, vomiting, drooling, loss of reflexes or in-coordination, darkening or de-coloring of urine, or stumbling. It is recommended that you show your pet to the vet immediately, when you notice any such abnormalities. The least you can do to avoid these side effects is to administer these medications in the exact way as prescribed by the vet or physician, and for the exact amount of time prescribed. Anything more can result into a difficult situation.

As an observant and involved owner, you should pick up the symptoms of pain that your dog may exhibit, and should aid it with immediate care and attention. Strictly follow the vet's guidelines, as your pet won't be able to express its situation. You will be able to judge when your canine pet regains its normalcy and activeness.

Disclaimer: This DogAppy article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
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