Can I Give My Dog Aspirin for a Limp? (Uses for Aspirin in Canines)
Keep Aspirin in Your Dog's First Aid Kit!
Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, has been used by humans for a very long time to soothe many painful conditions. Nowadays, even dogs may benefit from its many advantageous properties when given under a vet's advice. As a matter of fact, many dog owners keep aspirin in their pet's first aid kit, as it is basically the only safe canine pain reliever available over the counter.
At the vet clinic, while working as a veterinary assistant, I personally often used to get after-hour calls from concerned owners due to their dogs exhibiting marked limping after their yearly vaccinations, or after having sprained their leg. Fortunately, those pets were able to rest and feel better thanks to this simple medication most of us keep in our medicine cabinets. Aspirin may be used to treat a variety of canine conditions.
Common Uses for Aspirin in Dogs
- Joint pain
- Chronic pain
- Excessive blood clotting
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Aspirin for Dogs: What to Watch For
However, even though aspirin can be relatively safe, there are also many considerations owners must be aware of. This is why it is always preferable to use aspirin under a veterinarian's care and for a limited time frame. Here are some cautions owners need to be aware of:
- The standard dose according to veterinarian Mark Papich on Petplace is 5 to 10mg/lb. It is always advisable to start with a low dosage to play it safe. Many times a small dosage may be sufficient, so an 8 pound dog may get 40 mg, a 16 pound dog may get 80 mg (basically an 81 mg baby aspirin) and so forth. For a helpful chart on aspirin dosage, visit this link: dog aspirin dosage chart.
- Never try to guess a dosage. While mostly safe when administered correctly, if given too much it can cause aspirin toxicity. It may take only one human aspirin to cause major organ failure and even death in a small dog. Always consult with your vet and have your dog weighed to calculate the proper dosage. If your dog ingested aspirin accidentally, consult with your vet or emergency center promptly. The toxic dose of aspirin is usually around 30 mg/lb.
- Aspirin is still an NSAID (Non- Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory Drug), meaning it could cause many side effects.
If you are giving aspirin, watch your dog for the following side effects:
- Black, tarry stools (suggesting digested blood)
- Presence of blood in the vomit (suggesting a bleeding ulcer)
- Loss of appetite
- Anemia (suggesting stomach bleeding)
- Unexplained bleeding (suggesting a blood clotting issue)
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
The most common side effect is usually stomach upset. This is why the buffered type is preferable and it is best given with a meal. Again, watch carefully for signs of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding!
- Do not give enteric-coated aspirin. Dogs have different digestive processes than humans and many times the coating is not digested properly and therefore, the entire pill may exit and be found intact in the stool. This makes the pill totally ineffective.
- Aspirin may interact with other medications. Do not give aspirin if your dog is currently taking Furosemide, Phenobarbital, Corticosteroids and other NSAID's. Consult with the vet about other possible interactions.
- Do not administer aspirin if your dog is post-surgery or has an upcoming surgery.
- Very young dogs may not tolerate aspirin well.
- Avoid giving aspirin to pregnant dogs as it may cause birth defects.
- Never give products that contain a combination of aspirin and other medications. Also, please do not feel tempted to use Tylenol or Ibuprofen or basically any other over the counter medications for human pain relief as they can be potentially toxic.
- Last but not least, do not give aspirin more than every 12 hours and for more than a couple of days without consulting with your vet first. The longer the aspirin is given the more likely the dog may develop ulcers due to its continuous use. If your dog has a chronic condition, do not feel tempted to give aspirin for more than a few days, your vet may prescribe safer and more effective drugs with fewer side effects.
Never give aspirin to cats, it is not tolerated and can turn out to be deadly!
Aspirin may be helpful in many cases. However, there are cases where aspirin may be more harmful than beneficial, this is why it is highly recommended to consult with a veterinarian first to play it safe.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2008 Adrienne Janet Farricelli