Since aspirin is found in most medicine cabinets, you may have wondered if aspirin if safe to give your dog. In this article, we will talk about aspirin for dogs.
Can I Give My Dog Aspirin?
Yes, you can give your dog aspirin. However, first, you need to talk to your vet about your dog’s need for aspirin and how to give your dog aspirin (dose, route of administration, and frequency). This is because aspirin is a human pain reliever, and its use in veterinary medicine is off-label.
Aspirin helps reduce fever, control pain, and has anti-clotting properties. Other NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).
When to Use Aspirin for Dogs
Aspirin (also known as acetylsalicylic acid) is popularly used to relieve pain and discomfort, decrease fever, and reduce the likelihood of blood clot formation.
Aspirin works by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. Cyclooxygenase is responsible for the production of prostaglandins. These hormone-like chemicals have several beneficial roles in the body, such as blood flow regulation and mucus formation).
However, in addition to their beneficial roles, prostaglandins also play a role in pain, fever, and inflammation. By inhibiting cyclooxygenase, aspirin prevents these processes.
Benefits and Uses of Aspirin for Dogs
Managing pain, inflammation, and blood clots are the main roles of aspirin. However, this popular tablet comes with several benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the different aspirin uses for adult dogs.
Aspirin for Pain Relief. The most popular use of aspirin is for pain control. In dogs, common causes of pain and discomfort are osteoarthritis, leg injuries, and dental issues.
Aspirin for Inflammation and Fever. As an NSAID, aspirin can control inflammation and decrease fever. Reducing inflammation is beneficial in dogs with arthritis.
Aspirin for Blood Clotting Prevention. Aspirin affects platelet function. Its anticoagulant effect prevents the formation of blood clots.
Aspirin for Eye Problems. Another exciting study suggests that aspirin use helps decrease the incidence of retinopathies (eye problems) in diabetic dogs.
Potential Side Effects and Risks of Aspirin for Dogs
Like any other medication, aspirin can sometimes cause side effects, especially used for extended periods. Here are some of the more frequently reported aspirin side effects in dogs:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Mucosal erosion
- Stomach ulceration
- Black and tarry stool
If your dog is sensitive to aspirin or has additional health issues, talk to your trusted vet before giving your dog aspirin. Aspirin should not be used in dogs with the health conditions listed below:
- Allergic or sensitive to the active ingredient
- Receiving medications with known drug interactions
- Bleeding ulcers or bleeding disorders
- Liver damage
In addition, aspirin should not be given to very young puppies.
Finally, if a dog is receiving aspirin, its use must be discontinued at least one week before surgical procedures because of the increased bleeding risk.
Aspirin Dosage for Dogs
Because aspirin is not FDA approved for use in dogs, little research has been performed to determine the proper dosage. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, dogs can be given between 10 and 40 mg of aspirin per kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight.
However, which dosage is best for your dog depends on its underlying condition and is something you should discuss with your veterinarian. Aspirin is given by mouth every 12 hours and needs between 1 and 2 hours to start working.
Aspirin is available in two forms – regular (contains 325 mg of acetylsalicylic acid) and baby aspirin (contains 1/4 of the active ingredient or 81 mg). If you have a Chihuahua, baby aspirin would be a more practical choice. On the other hand, a Great Dane needs regular aspirin.
If you plan on giving your dog aspirin, always consult with your veterinarian first for specific dosage guidelines.
Regardless of the aspirin potency form you choose, sticking to the recommended dosage is vital. This is because an aspirin overdose can be fatal. Aspirin toxicity in dogs manifests with the following signs and symptoms:
- Rapid breathing
- Increased body temperature
- Wobbly gait and weakness
- Tremors and seizures
- Liver and kidney damage
A dog with aspirin toxicity needs immediate veterinary attention and should be taken to the vet’s office or veterinary emergency hospital as soon as possible.
Aspirin for Dogs Usage Guidelines
Human aspirin tablets have an extra coating, called an enteric coating, to make apsirin extra gentle on human stomachs. However, enteric-coated medications dissolve slowly in the dog’s stomach and are often ineffective.
Therefore, chewable tablets with a dog-friendly flavor may be the better choice. Your vet can advise you which aspirin formulation would be best for your dog.
Before using aspirin for your dog, you should know that the active ingredient may interact with other medications, such as those listed below:
- ACE inhibitors
- Heparin and oral anticoagulants
- SSRI antidepressants
- Blood glucose-lowering agents
- Calcium channel blockers
- Spironolactone and furosemide
If your dog is prone to low-dose aspirin side effects or you prefer a more natural approach, do not worry. Here are some natural aspirin alternatives that you can consider:
- Organic Turmeric: The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Human studies have shown that turmeric also promotes wound healing and has therapeutic benefits in conditions such as arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Turmeric is easy to use – just sprinkle organic turmeric powder on top of your dog’s food (between 1/8 to 1/4 tsp per 10 pounds of body weight).
- Boswellia serrata: Also known as frankincense, Boswellia serrata is a highly praised herb because of its ability to control pain and inflammation. A small study of 24 dogs demonstrated that Boswellia serrata supplements relieved joint pain and decreased the intensity of other osteoarthritis symptoms.
Talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog any natural treatment.
Finally, if your dog is sensitive to aspirin, this does not mean your dog is sensitive to all NSAIDs. Talk to your vet about other NSAIDs like carprofen, naproxen, and meloxicam.
Our Final Thoughts on Aspirin for Dogs
The most popular drug in the medicine cabinet, human aspirin, is relatively safe and can be beneficial to dogs as long as it is used in accordance with the vet’s instructions, with careful monitoring, and for a limited timeframe.
However, if your dog’s condition could benefit from long-term use of NSAIDs, it is best advised to look into NSAIDs formulated for dogs because they are safer and less likely to cause side effects.
Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass says, “Follow your veterinarian’s prescription instructions carefully to ensure that your dog gets the most benefit from aspirin with the least amount of side effects. If you have any questions or concerns about the instructions, your vet will be happy to address them and provide you with additional information and guidance.”