It’s always difficult to see a loved one in pain, and it’s no different when the loved one is your dog. Aspirin is a common pain reliever for humans, but did you know it can be used for dogs, too? There are aspirins on the market made especially for dogs. Some of these are over the counter, but you’ll need a prescription for others. It’s important never to give your dog aspirin made for people, even if you have it handy, as the dosage for dogs is much lower.
If you’re interested in using aspirin for dogs, talk to your vet first. Dosage will vary for every pet, and your vet will be able to tell you if the drug is unsafe for your pet to use.
When is aspirin for dogs useful?
Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). As such, it can be used to treat the following issues:
- mild to moderate, short-term pain
When should you NOT give a dog aspirin?
Pregnancy: If your dog is pregnant, aspirin should never be used. Taken late in the pregnancy, it can make the birth difficult, or even lead to the death of the mother or her pups. Aspirin may also cause birth defects at any time of your dog’s pregnancy.
- Older Dogs: As dogs become older, aspirin should be replaced with other pain relievers. Older dogs are more susceptible to aspirin’s side effects (see below).
- Bleeding Disorders: Aspirin can make bleeding disorders—including ulcers—worse.
- Other Medications: If your dog is on other medications, it may be best not to use aspirin. Talk to your veterinarian first about possible interactions between aspirin and what your dog is already taking.
- Long-term Treatment: Long-term aspirin treatment, such as for osteoarthritis, should be avoided.
- Before Surgery: Stop aspirin use at least one week before your dog has surgery. Aspirin reduces blood clotting, and this can make surgery riskier and the healing process longer.
Side effects of aspirin for dogs
When giving your dog aspirin, keep an eye out for any of these side effects:
- GI tract: Gastrointestinal damage is aspirin’s most common side effect. Some dogs are more susceptible to it than others. This partially depends on age, but not entirely.
- Liver: Liver problems occasionally develop over time. It’s a good idea to switch to another pain reliever if your dog develops liver or kidney problems, whether aspirin caused them or not.
- Joint health: Long-term use can damage the cartilage in your dog’s joints.
- Injury: If your dog takes aspirin after a severe injury or sprain, limit their activity as much as possible. When your dog doesn’t feel all the pain of an injury, they risk making the injury worse.
- Allergy: Some dogs are allergic to aspirin. If you notice an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Keep in mind…
Every dog reacts to aspirin somewhat differently. It is a good idea to keep a close eye on your dog when you give them any new medication.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.