Is Bengay Safe for Dogs?
We have a hard enough time figuring out the best way to treat our own aches and pains, but when our furry friends start to stiffen up or limp about, alleviating pain can feel downright impossible. We have medicine cabinets full of pills, creams, patches, and chewables all designed to make our pain go away without killing us, but our dogs do not have that luxury. Most of us do not keep a stash of prescription-strength pain relievers that have been designed specifically for dogs, and it isn’t exactly easy to find canine-friendly over-the-counter options. This can make us as pet parents feel woefully unprepared to deal with our furry children’s sore joints and muscles.
Given that most of our oral medications are either toxic or risky when used in canines, many pet owners look for milder, safer ways of treating their pets’ pain. For muscles aches, pain relief creams such as Bengay can look pretty tempting. After all, they won’t cause kidney damage or stomach bleeding, right? Is this a reliable way to treat pain in the short term? Can you give your dog Bengay?
No, giving your dog Bengay (or any medication) is not recommended unless your veterinarian has given you explicit instructions to follow. It is true that most dogs, especially large breeds, will not suffer from any life-threatening or long-term side effects if they have a little Bengay applied to a sore muscle every now and then, but this drug is not without its risks. Ideally, pain relief creams should not be used on any animals. Small breeds and puppies are especially susceptible to the risks associated with Bengay. If your dog is in pain, seek veterinary care. Bengay is not safe for dogs or cats.
Bengay should only really be used, if at all, on large breeds and under the guidance of a veterinarian. There are several health risks when using pain relief creams and gel on canines that are not present during normal human use.
If your large adult dog is struggling with mild, short-term pain or muscle soreness, they may be able to benefit from some gentler Bengay products such as Bengay’s Pain Relief & Massage Gel or Vanishing Scent Bengay. Do not use any products that are marketed as ‘extra strong’ or ‘ultra strength’ muscle cream. When looking for products to use on your dog, milder is almost always better.
If you have decided to use Bengay on your dog, you have to monitor them for as long as they are wearing the cream. Your dog should not be permitted to lick the area of application—either apply it somewhere their tongues can’t reach, put a cone on them, or supervise them to make sure they don’t start chewing on their fur. This means that you can’t simply apply Bengay to your dog’s sore muscles before bed at night. They should not be left alone with most topical medications, but pain relief creams such as Bengay are particularly dangerous.
In 2015, the FDA warned against exposing pets to any topical medications containing flurbiprofen after the deaths of several cats who had died after their owners used pain relief creams to treat their own symptoms. These cats did not even take the drug directly. They were exposed to it on their owners’ skin sometime after the application. At that time, the FDA said that they had not received any complaints about dogs becoming ill as a result of exposure to flurbiprofen creams—but, given that dogs and cats are both quite sensitive to NSAIDs, they believed that it was best to avoid exposing any pets to products such as Bengay.
Things to Consider
What symptoms should you look out for if your dog has been exposed to Bengay? Dogs are not as susceptible to salicylate toxicity as cats, but their symptoms are pretty similar. Dogs who have absorbed a toxic amount of Bengay will suffer from symptoms such as fever, muscle weakness, depression, vomiting, stomach or intestinal bleeding, anxiety, and other behavioral changes. Severe poisoning can lead to stomach perforation, severe bleeding, kidney or liver failure, collapse, seizures, or anemia.
If your dog has accidentally ingested Bengay, contact a vet or a poison control center before symptoms begin. Salicylate does not have an antidote, so it is crucial to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Your vet may be able to induce vomiting, perform a gastric rinse, or administer activated charcoal to reduce the amount of poison your dog can absorb.
In the end, Bengay is not recommended for dogs without the guidance of a veterinarian. While dogs are able to tolerate higher concentrations of salicylates than cats, they are still quite susceptible to poisoning. If your dog is struggling with severe or chronic pain, ask a veterinarian for pain medications that have been formulated specifically for canines. Over-the-counter drugs designed for humans are not safe for our pets.