When you see your dog in pain, all you want to do is make them feel better. Sometimes, it’s tempting to reach for your own stock of medicines to see if one of them will help your dog. One of the more popular ones is aspirin.
Aspirin is a very common drug and is often touted as being “dog-safe”, so you may think it’s a good option to present to a suffering pup.
But before you make that decision, make sure you are well-informed. Can you really give a dog aspirin?
Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, otherwise known as an NSAID.
Many NSAIDs are known for being relatively safe to administer to dogs in small, prescribed doses, but the idea that they are all perfectly safe for animals is far from true.
Aspirin is an anticoagulant and a painkiller that helps reduce fevers, prevent blood clots, eases inflammation and treats pain. But is it truly safe for a dog?
Can I Give My Dog Aspirin For Pain Relief?
Quick Answer: Aspirin isn’t made specifically with dogs in mind and it shouldn’t be your go-to solution for pain problems. In fact, you should not give your dog aspirin at all, as no human drugs are truly safe for dogs. Let’s expand a little bit on why giving aspirin to a dog can be dangerous.
Aspirin functions as an inhibitor. It stops the production of cyclooxygenase, which is an enzyme that actively produces components called prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are in turn responsible for causing fevers, pain, and inflammation, so you would think that curbing their production is a good thing.
The problem is that prostaglandins are also responsible for a lot of other vital bodily functions.
They ensure proper blood flow to and from the kidneys, support healthy blood clotting, and help to protect the gastrointestinal tract’s inner lining from stomach acid with the use of mucus.
An overdose of aspirin in dogs can lead to a number of different problems, including:
- Bleeding disorders
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite
- Intestinal issues
- Kidney dysfunction
- Liver dysfunction
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
Some dogs may also be especially sensitive to aspirin and other NSAIDs – whether it’s just how their body works or if it’s due to a pre-existing health issue – which can lead to very bad side effects very quickly.
Will A Vet Prescribe Aspirin For My Dog?
It’s not unusual for a vet to decide to prescribe aspirin to a dog who has a musculoskeletal issue or osteoarthritis. It can help ease pain and reduce inflammation, giving a dog some relief.
Usually, though, a vet will only do this for short-term conditions or injuries, though, as longer use can result in stronger side effects.
You should very closely follow the instructions given by your vet when administering aspirin. Never go over the dose required.
The recommended dosage that is safe for a dog is between 10 and 40 mg per kg of body weight, though this can vary depending on the individual dog and the conditions they have.
Ask your vet what kind of aspirin is needed and how it’s recommended that you administer it and follow these instructions.
If you think an aspirin dose is necessary for your dog, call your vet for advice.
Never give your dog any amount of aspirin without getting the all-clear from a vet first. If your dog is pregnant or uses other medications, inform your vet of this when asking.
What Are The Symptoms Of Aspirin Overdose?
If you have been asked to give aspirin to your pup, it’s important that you monitor their behaviour and make sure they are not exhibiting negative symptoms from the drug. Some symptoms to look out for are:
- Black or tarry stools
- Mucosal erosion
These symptoms are more minor and do not necessarily mean an overdose is occurring. They may only be side effects from the aspirin.
Still, if you notice these symptoms, you should stop giving aspirin to your dog and let your vet know what’s going on. More serious symptoms that point to an overdose on aspirin include:
- Loss of appetite
- Acid-based abnormalities
An aspirin overdose can lead to death if not treated immediately.
Aspirin has a lot of side effects, so it’s very crucial that you are constantly keeping an eye on your dog for as long as they are on aspirin.
What Are Some Alternatives To Aspirin For My Dog?
There are other options instead of aspirin that you can use to help relieve pain in your dog and that are much safer than NSAIDs. Here are some of them.
This painkiller works similarly to a very mild opioid medication often given to elderly dogs.
It may cause minor side effects like dizziness, a tummy upset or vomiting, but these particular side effects are not a huge cause for concern, though you can always speak to your vet if you are worried.
This medication is sometimes prescribed alongside other drugs and is meant primarily to relieve pain caused by nerve damage.
It can cause your dog to be quite sleepy for the first couple of days that they are on it, but this side effect will go away quickly.
Some supplements can aid in reducing swelling and boosting cartilage repair and protection.
There’s not a lot of research on them, but supplements such as chondroitin or glucosamine are often used as alternative treatment methods.
Remember to always speak to a vet before starting your dog on any form of medication, Piriton, drug or supplement.