Giving Aspirin to Your Dog

Updated on January 6, 2017

Aspirin is often prescribed for limping

Aspirin for dogs
Aspirin for dogs | Source

Keep Aspirin in Your Dog's First Aid Kit!

Medically better known as Acetylsalicylic Acid, Aspirin has been used by humans for a very long time for the relief of many painful conditions. Nowadays, even dogs may benefit from its many advantageous properties when given under a vet's advice. Many dog owners as a matter of fact, keep aspirin in their pet's first aid kit as it turns out to basically the only safe 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 in dogs, may be used to treat a variety of conditions, below are some common uses:

  • Joint pain
  • Soreness
  • Fevers
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Excessive blood clotting
  • Hyperthrophic 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 being the reason why it is always preferable if used under a veterinarian's guide 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 you will have to watch your dog for the following side effects:

  • Black tarry stools (suggesting digested blood)
  • Presence of blood in the vomit (suggesting a bleeding ulcer)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Ulcers
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • 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 gastro-intestinal 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 has an upcoming surgery or post 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.
  • Never give aspirin to cats, it is not tolerated and can turn out to be deadly!
  • 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.

Conclusion

Aspirin as we can see 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.

Disclaimer: The above article is not intended to replace veterinary advice. As with any medication there is potential of side effects, complications and overdose. Always consult with a vet first and follow his/her recommendations accordingly.

Questions & Answers

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      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        4 years ago from USA

        Indeed, the side effects of aspirin in dogs and humans are quite the same.

      • profile image

        Panda 

        6 years ago

        Its funny cause im on an asprin regiment for Factor 5 (genetic disorder blah blah) and the side effects you listed are about the same as what can happen to humans. Go figure lol, i give it for my dog when he sprains something. In my unproffesional opinion its better because it doesn't give your dog the ability to be active and run around, making it worse. Pains there for a reason.

      • profile image

        miranda 

        6 years ago

        i will love to take care of an animal i live on a farm so i have to take care of my horse his name is lightning I love him so much that if he dies i will cry for about 2 hours or more that is how much i love horses.

      • profile image

        Rachael 

        7 years ago

        My 5 year old Pug has had bacterial ear infections on and off for the last year. We took him to the vet less than a month ago and found out that he now had Rods in his right ear. The vet gave us oral antibiotics for two weeks, but they did not help. We don't have money to take him again right now so, we are giving him Benedryll and Aspirin for the pain and inflammation. We are giving him 1 Benedryll every 24 hours and 1 81mg Aspirin every 12 hours. Is this safe? He hasn't had any side effects from it and actually it has helped his ear! Does anyone have any other suggestions that might help with ear inflammation and pain?

      • Lady Guinevere profile image

        Debra Allen 

        9 years ago from West By God

        I saw that on the news. I saw one dog that had burn marks all down it's back and they blamed the owner for not administering it properly. It is not the owners fault if the flea treatment burned the dog--no matter where they put it.

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        9 years ago from USA

        Some medications used in veterinary medicine at times are pretty scary. Even in dogs medications such as Rimadyl and Previcox have been linked to serious complications and even death. It is sad when pet owners try to help their pets trusting the pharmaceutical industry and then they risk losing their pet!

        I just recently also wrote a hub on the danger of over the counter flea products for cats, and even that is pretty scary, yet these products are still sold every day!

      • Lady Guinevere profile image

        Debra Allen 

        9 years ago from West By God

        I read the site you gave on the stuff and I don't think that the side effects are good enough to warrant giving it to animals. It is like humans and the drugs they are putting out, Actualy this drug is for humans first in the article. If the side effects are worse then the disease or condtiion I would not give it to anything and that would include fish--you do realize most of this stuff we dispose of gets into the water and fish live there and we end up consuming that which we are disposing of.

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        9 years ago from USA

        Sorry, my bad, there was a typo I meant ''federal law restricts this drug to be used only by the order of a licensed vet.'' So unfortunately, it cannot be given without a prescription. Metacam has also a long list of side effects and should be taken with caution. Try to google'' Metacam kills'' pretty scary!

         

      • Lady Guinevere profile image

        Debra Allen 

        9 years ago from West By God

        You mean Vets are not allowed to use it? That is what I get frm your sentence.

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        9 years ago from USA

        I think it may be Metacam. http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&a...

        Unfortuanately, it appears that federal law restricts this drug to be used by or on the order of a licensed vet.

      • Lady Guinevere profile image

        Debra Allen 

        9 years ago from West By God

        I was giving a 1/4 baby aspirin to my cats for less than a week. What is in the injectable Pain killer that lasts for three days that the vets administer to dogs and cats alike? Anybody know this and if one can get it with or without a prescription?

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        9 years ago from USA

        Indeed aspirin should never be given to cats, they have a different metabolism than dogs and a full strenght aspirin can even fatally poison a cat. There are currently no OTC treatments unfortunately for cats. Aspirin is sometimes prescribed in cats but under strict veterinary supervision for short times and in low dosages. I wrote a whole hub on this:https://hubpages.com/animals/Can-Cats-Take-Human-P...

        Indeed, there is a lot of confusion out there. You get books from the library written by vets that state to give garlic to cats and dogs to repel fleas and enforce their immune system and then other veterinarians claim that garlic can cause in cats and dogs a type of anemia known as Heinz disease. Go figure! There is still a lot of debate on the garlic issue, it looks like it is still unclear how much is necessary to cause anemia and for how long. When in doubt better err on caution. I really know how it feels as I have gone through the same contradictions in the veterinary field over and over..

      • Lady Guinevere profile image

        Debra Allen 

        9 years ago from West By God

        Wow, the vet community really is confusing as I got a lecture the last time I went to take my cat in for treatment and told them I was giving baby aspirin to them for the pain and the other things. I really got a lecture about giving them anything for pain. They also told me about all the dangers of giving them garlic for flea treatments and other anti-biotic stuff. I was going to write a hub about it all, but I am just too confused and angry about the whole thing. I have a dog and I have many cats and I know this is about dogs, but I will tell you that there is very contradictory information on the net and in the vet office for aspirin and galric. They told me that either one can kill your pet within a week or tw time period. Well that got me quite upset, but thinking back on how I was feeding my cats and dog garlinc for over six months and none of them had any signs or symptoms of dieing or ever slightly getting sick, I have just decided that whatever I try I will watch very closely at what I am giving and how much and the intervals. What is a pet owner or advocate supposed to do? Everyone needs to be on the same page.

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        9 years ago from USA

        More otc meds for dogs are availble here, read disclaimers carefully:

        http://www.bestpethomeremedies.com/dogotcmedicatio...

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        9 years ago from USA

        You are very welcome! You are one lucky pup to have owners that care about you so much! Nice talking to you, take care!

      • Leah Kay, The Pup profile image

        Leah Kay, The Pup 

        9 years ago from Anywhere-USA

        Thanks Alexdry!! Mommy saved that web page into her favorite. Oh, and don't worry, if I even sneeze wrong, she calls my doctor!! lol!! They are are real picky with me (since I'm there loving little baby....) Even if we are down in Texas, they will call my favorite doc all the way up here in AR....I just don't like the docs down south, haven't found a nice one-yet....

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        9 years ago from USA

        Oops in the above link seems not correct this should work

        http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:r2H32ivDy_MJ:.../otc-meds.htm+puppy+aspirin+dosage&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        9 years ago from USA

        Hello, Leah Kay! Indeed aspirin is used a lot for so many reasons.

        However, something must be remebered, let''s say a dog has pain in its leg and is limping, so its the owner decides to give aspirin. The aspirin works wonderfully, but pain has a main function that we tend to forget; to remind you not to use that leg too much or it may get worse. So many dogs may seem like they are recovering, they will romp around on that injured leg all day long, and then when that aspirin effect weans off they may end up feeling worse than before!

        So I personally think that aspirin should be used with caution and only when really necessary.

        I am not a veterinarian, so I really do not feel comfortable saying yes, you can have baby aspirin. This would be out of my expertise level and it would also be irresponsible on my part. Don't want you to get sick or worse!

        It would be ideal if you can see a vet and see what it is causing you to need it in first place so to find out the underlying cause, and then ask the vet's opinion. Aspirin is an OTC but it is still a medication that can cause side effects especially when given long term. While relatively safe, just as people pets can have allergic reactions.

        Some people however feel comfortable giving it even without the opinion of their vet. Below is a link that gives dosage instructions, I am not sure how old you are and how much you weigh. But as an FYI here is the chart, should your mommy decide to give it a try (hopefully with your vet's consent): http://www.walkervalleyvet.com/ Best of wishes!

      • Leah Kay, The Pup profile image

        Leah Kay, The Pup 

        9 years ago from Anywhere-USA

        I really like this hub! Aspirin is cheaper than heading to the vet and getting meds. Although, I really like our vet here-whenever I have to have my annual shots, he gives me medicine for two days to help me with any pain or reaction (since last year I had a bad reaction to my shots).

        Can mommy use baby aspirin on me? She has a bottle on hand for me, but hasn't given me any-yet.

      • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

        10 years ago from USA

        Yes, many things can be harmful. I once used a Hartz flea product on my cat for fleas and she started itching a lot. I thought it was due to the fleas being hyper because of the product but the day after she was so raw that I called the vet. I was instructed to use Dawn to rinse her twice, only to find out later the product was recalled and there is a whole website about how harmful Hartz products are. All because I was trying to save some money from buying Frontline!

      • Eileen Hughes profile image

        Eileen Hughes 

        10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

        This is a very helpful hub for dog lovers. We have to be so careful what we give our little mates.

        I once put a diluted disinfectng solution on our cat, thinking Iwas helping. He licked it off and got ulcers on his tongue. I felt so awful. I took him to the vet as I should have done in the first place. Thanks for sharing

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