What is DMSO for dogs

What is DMSO for dogs?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

DMSO is an analgesic gel that is useful for treating pain caused by osteoarthritis, injuries to ligaments and tendons, or head edema. Additionally, it is effective for treating cancer pain. The product has been approved by the FDA.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “What is DMSO for dogs?“.

In the event your dog suffers from arthritis or some other trauma your vet might prescribe a topical anti-inflammatory such as Domoso.

What is DMSO for dogs

Gels such as this are typically prescribed for a 14-day course of treatment as long-term use can cause significant side effects. 

Lets find out what this drug is and whether it is safe for your pet.

What is DMSO?

Dimethyl sulfoxide commonly known as Domoso is a type of DMSO.

As a by-product of the lumber industry DMSO is a solvent.

Lignol is extracted from lignin the material that holds tree cells together. DMSO is produced during pulp production and is then processed to gel form.

The compound became widely used in medicine after 1963 when a team of physicians at Oregon Health and Science University discovered it could penetrate skin and tissues without harming them in order to deliver other drugs.

Its water-soluble nature makes DMSO ideal for use as a carrier for other drugs as well as having many beneficial properties of its own. In addition to being approved for use in dogs and horses the compound is also approved for use in humans for a limited number of conditions. 

Domoso presents itself as a colorless DMSO gel with a concentration of 90%. By blocking pain receptors it relaxes the muscles.

How does DMSO work?

DMSO is rapidly absorbed and distributed into tissues after it is applied to the skin. Since it acts on the peripheral nervous system as well as the central one it has a strong analgesic effect. 

Dimethyl sulfone and dimethyl sulfide are metabolized into the compound which is excreted mainly in urine and feces. As well as the lungs and skin the drug is excreted through those pathways. The drug gives the dogs breath a strong garlic odor which you can easily detect. 

Veterinary preparations usually come in tubes of 60g or 120g. If the vet does not instruct otherwise you should apply the gel every six hours to the affected area. The daily dose should not exceed 20 grams. 

How to apply DMSO to your dog?

You will need to learn how to apply DMSO gel if your dog suffers from osteoarthritis. It is important to know that DMSO should be handled with care as it contains toxic ingredients. When applying DMSO to your dogs skin experts recommend wearing gloves. As a result your skin will be protected but there is the possibility that some toxins may sneak into its body via the gel. Risks are low however and you should evaluate the risks/benefits ratio. Taking such a risk is probably worth it when your dog is in severe pain. 

If you have trouble handling gel you should look for a roll-on preparation which is much easier to apply. 

There is no need to worry about your dog complaining about the gel since it will give off a pleasant heating sensation on its skin. You can actually feel the heat generated by the drug even through the gloves. Its not uncommon for your pet to take a nap after you apply the gel since DMSO acts as a mild sedative. The joints will no longer hurt him so he will wake up refreshed and ready for action. Or maybe not. 

What are the benefits of DMSO?

DMSO is anti-inflammatory when applied topically to the skin. Since it penetrates quickly into the skin it relieves pain quickly. 

It is used to treat dogs

  • Treat musculoskeletal disorders and inflammatory conditions
  • Reduce arthritic pain
  • Treats pain associated with physical trauma such as tendon or ligament injuries
  • Using intracranial pressure reduction to treat cerebral edema caused by trauma
  • Using oral medication to treat interstitial cystitis
  • Increases the absorption of other topical medications

What are the possible side effects of DMSO in dogs

Fortunately the most common side effects observed in dogs are not severe but they can be quite annoying.

Skin reactions

DMSO is a chemical solvent so you should not use it on your skin or that of your pets. 

The gel can cause erythema mainly because DMSO triggers the release of histamines. It might cause a burning sensation in the affected area. Also it causes dry skin which may lead to the dog scratching the affected area to relieve itching. When you stop applying this gel to your pet the erythema will likely disappear on its own.

Long-term use of DMSO can cause dermatitis which is characterized by persistent redness and scaling. 

Central nervous system effects

The majority of these are caused by the use of DMSO gels for long periods of time. If the drug interacts with the central nervous system it can cause fatigue dizziness headaches nausea and vomiting. In addition to its sedative effect DMSO causes your pet to appear drowsy.

Eye damage

DMSO use over a long period of time can affect your dogs vision. As a result of exposure to this compound the lens’ refractive index may change resulting in cataracts. DMSO human clinical trials were banned in 1965 for this reason. 

After you stop treating your dog with DMSO you will probably notice an opalescence on his lens which will persist for a long time. 

A special precaution should be taken

Dogs should not be given DMSO during pregnancy because it can cause malformations. In addition this compound is thought to enhance the effects of other drugs such as blood thinners steroids sedatives and heart medicines. Speak with your veterinarian about your dogs medications if he is taking these. 

What happens if the dog licks DMSO?

DMSO is often applied to an area your dog can easily reach so your vet may recommend using an Elizabethan cone to prevent him from licking it off. As an alternative to putting a cone on your dog you should know that DMSO is not toxic.

DMSO can cause mild irritation of the GI tract and the most common symptoms are nausea vomiting and diarrhea. 

How to use DMSO for calcinosis cutis in dogs?

Calcinosis cutis is a condition in which calcium salts form deposits on the skin. The skin is damaged as a result. There are one or more rough itchy lesions on pets suffering from calcinosis cutis. The groin area the armpits and the back are the most commonly affected areas. Calcium deposits cause significant pain as they push their way through the skin and scratching or licking the affected area will only make matters worse. Corticosteroids overproduction or physical injury cause the condition 

DMSO gels are recommended to alleviate the pain and inflammation in addition to treating the underlying issue. 

Can you use DMSO for ear infections in dogs?

A strong chemical compound like DMSO should never be applied in a concentrated form to the sensitive skin of a dogs ear let alone its interior. On the other hand it can be used to treat ear infections and there are several veterinary drugs available that contain DMSO and corticosteroids. These medicines are designed to alleviate inflammation and itch. 

Is DMSO good for dog tumors?

A lot of debate surrounds the use of DMSO to fight cancer whether in dogs or in humans. DMSO may be able to fight cancerous cell invasion and proliferation and it may prevent cancer from spreading throughout the body. However the research on this topic is still limited. 

In contrast DMSO is sometimes prescribed to dogs suffering from various tumors since it alleviates pain. The pain experienced by dogs with cancer is no less than that of mans and topical DMSO is a powerful and fast-acting analgesic. 

Is DMSO good for hot spots in dogs?

They are painful sores that develop on a dogs skin and can have a variety of causes. You can develop a hot spot even from a small bite or scratch. The main problem is that minor sores can be very irritating to a dog so he will lick and scratch at them until they become infected with bacteria.

Veterinarians often prescribe antibiotic ointments to treat hot spots. DMSO is also recommended by some pet owners and the gel can temporarily relieve pain. On the other hand DMSO should not be applied to or even around an open wound. This can trigger an allergic reaction and make the dog even more miserable. In addition theres always the risk that the gel might allow dirt and bacteria from the dogs fur to get into the skin. 

Try applying used black tea bags on the sores instead of DMSO. Black tea contains tannic acid which aids in the healing of open wounds.


DMSO is an analgesic gel that is useful for treating pain caused by osteoarthritis injuries to ligaments and tendons or head edema. Additionally it is effective for treating cancer pain. The product has been approved by the FDA but you need to keep in mind that it is a solvent and can cause significant side effects. 

Share on:
Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *