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Can I Give My Dog Aspirin for a Limp? (Canine Aspirin Guide)

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Aspirin is often prescribed for limping dogs.

Aspirin is often prescribed for limping dogs.

Why 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
  • Soreness
  • Fevers
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Excessive blood clotting
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
It's important to consult with your vet before administering aspirin to your pup.

It's important to consult with your vet before administering aspirin to your pup.

Aspirin Safety for Dogs

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.

What Is the Appropriate Aspirin Dose for a Dog?

The standard dose, according to veterinarian Mark Papich on Petplace, is 5 to 10mg/lb. It is always advisable to start with a low dose to play it safe. Oftentimes, a small dose 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 guide to aspirin dosage, consult this dog aspirin dosage chart.

Safety Note: Never try to guess the appropriate dose. While mostly safe when administered correctly, if given in too large a dose, aspirin can cause 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 an NSAID (Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory Drug), meaning it can cause many side effects.

Aspirin Side Effects to Watch Out for in Dogs

  • 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 gastrointestinal bleeding!

Aspirin Warnings for Dogs

  • 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 NSAIDs. 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.

Always Play It Safe and Consult Your Vet

Aspirin may be helpful in many cases. However, there are cases where aspirin may be more harmful than beneficial, and 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 Farricelli

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Read More From Pethelpful


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 12, 2013:

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

Panda on October 14, 2011:

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.

miranda on October 12, 2011:

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.

Rachael on May 19, 2011:

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?

Debra Allen from West By God on June 17, 2009:

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.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 17, 2009:

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!

Debra Allen from West By God on June 17, 2009:

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.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 16, 2009:

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!


Debra Allen from West By God on June 16, 2009:

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

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 16, 2009:

I think it may be Metacam.

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

Debra Allen from West By God on June 16, 2009:

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?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 15, 2009:

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:

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..

Debra Allen from West By God on June 15, 2009:

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.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 15, 2009:

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

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 25, 2009:

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 from Anywhere-USA on March 25, 2009:

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....

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 24, 2009:

Oops in the above link seems not correct this should work

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 24, 2009:

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): Best of wishes!

Leah Kay, The Pup from Anywhere-USA on March 24, 2009:

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.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 23, 2008:

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 from Northam Western Australia on May 22, 2008:

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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