Giving Aspirin to Your Dog
Aspirin is often prescribed for limping
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
- 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)
- 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 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.
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.