When we don’t feel well, it is easy for us to take an aspirin or a similar painkiller to safely and quickly relieve our pain.
Have you ever found yourself asking the question – can I give my dog aspirin?
If your dog is suffering and you are looking for safe pain relief options, you should always consult a veterinarian who will be able to tell you precisely what is wrong with your dog with a precise diagnosis and then prescribe a suitable treatment.
For your curiosity and research, however, keep reading to find out more about whether it is safe to give aspirin to dogs, and what the benefits or side effects might be.
In this article, we will discuss:
- What is aspirin?
- The benefits of aspirin prescribed by your vet
- Side effects of aspirin for dogs
- Safe dosages of aspirin for dogs
- Aspirin alternatives for dogs
What Is Aspirin?
Aspirin belongs in the same category of drugs as ibuprofen, carprofen, and naproxen, which are all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAID drugs.
These are used to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation, and they are useful in helping to reduce things like swelling, stiffness, and joint pain in both humans and animals.
Dogs that suffer from arthritis, for example, or have just come out of surgery, may benefit from taking a drug like aspirin.
NSAIDs can also be used to treat fever, and aspirin may be used as an anti-coagulant, helping to prevent the clotting of blood.
Specific NSAIDs are better suited for long-term use than others, for example, Rimadyl.
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In general, NSAIDs have fewer side effects than steroids. Side effects are still present, though, which is why it is essential to consult a veterinarian before treating your dog with drugs like aspirin, as they can best advise you on what type of painkiller will suit your particular dog and their condition.
Some of the NSAIDs that are suitable for dogs are:
- carprofen (Novoxor Rimadyl)
- firocoxib (Previcox)
- meloxicam (Metacam)
The Benefits Of Aspirin Prescribed By Your Vet
Vets commonly prescribe aspirin for dogs to help offer relief to dogs that are experiencing pain from inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis or musculoskeletal inflammation.
Due to the more severe side effects that aspirin has the potential to have on your dog, it is always important to only give this kind of medication to your dog under the supervision and prescription of your veterinarian and to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully.
Side Effects Of Aspirin For Dogs
It is essential to be aware that adverse reactions to aspirin are relatively common in dogs. Being aware of the risks and symptoms before you administer aspirin to your dog will help you to keep them safe and give yourself peace of mind.
If your dog is having an adverse reaction to the medication, they are likely to experience the following symptoms:
- Black tarry stools
- Redness and scabbing of the skin (ulceration)
- Eating less or loss of appetite
- Changes in their normal behavior
- Mucosal erosion
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If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, you should stop giving the aspiring immediately and take your dog straight to see a veterinarian. Overdoses can lead to seizures, bleeding, coma, and death, and so a prompt response is vital in all cases.
Aspirin is known to have more side effects on dogs than some of the other NSAIDs like Rimadyl. For example, therefore, you should be extra vigilant and monitor your dog’s behavior closely.
A veterinarian usually only gives a dog aspirin, which is an over-the-counter NSAID, for injuries or short-term conditions. The more significant potential for side effects and the risk of bleeding do not make aspirin a safe choice for long-term health.
If you do decide to give your dog aspirin, it may be thought that coated aspirin will be better on your dog’s stomach, but this is questionable, as we will see further on in the article.
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You should always give the pill to your dog along with some food. Your vet will be able to provide you with more specific instructions about the recommended dosage for your dog.
Safe Dosages Of Aspirin For Dogs
Aspirin is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For this reason, the proper dosages for dogs are difficult to clarify due to the lack of definitive studies.
However, the Merk Veterinary Manual recommends a dosage of 10-40mg/kg. Your veterinarian will still have to take into consideration your individual dog’s requirements and their medical condition when working out a dosage that will be safe for them.
As mentioned above, your veterinarian may not suggest that you use coated aspirin for your dog. The enteric-coated aspirin is designed to protect human stomachs from irritation.
The problem with administering these to dogs, though, is that half the time, the coating isn’t digested, which means that the aspirin is often excreted whole in the dog’s stool, making it non-effective.
You should discuss your concerns with your vet after they have offered their recommendations on what type of aspirin to purchase for your dog.
It is also imperative to consider any other medication that your dog is taking at the same time as taking the aspirin so that your vet can avoid any potential drug interactions that could be harmful to your dog.
Similarly, you should inform your vet to make sure that they are aware if your dog is pregnant.
Aspirin Alternatives For Dogs
NSAIDs are beneficial when it comes to pain relief, and for this reason, veterinarians do not usually prescribe alternative painkillers for dogs.
Carprofen is often used more frequently than aspirin in dogs as it has fewer side effects. It is commonly used to treat osteoarthritis.
If your dog is in a situation where they do need an alternative to NSAIDs, then these are some of the options your vet may suggest:
- Gabapentin – This drug can be used to treat pain caused by damaged nerves in both humans and dogs, and is sometimes prescribed alongside other medications. Gabapentin can make your dog sleepy for the first few days, but this usually subsides.
- Tramadol – This drug works as a mild opioid medication and is often recommended for older aging dogs that suffer from more constant pain and discomfort. Side effects can include an upset stomach, along with vomiting and dizziness, which are all symptoms that can all be addressed when you share your concerns with your vet.
Steroids are not usually prescribed for pain in dogs as the side effects can be significant, and more potent opiates are only administered for short periods.
If your vet does not offer an alternative for your dog, it is essential not to take the matter into your own hands.
No matter how much research you do, you will never be qualified enough to make a safe decision on behalf of your pet when it comes to medications.
Your next best option would be to seek a second opinion from another veterinarian.
Do not be tempted to use human drugs to treat your dog, even if those drugs seem harmless enough to humans. Human drugs cause very different reactions in dogs, and often you will be doing more harm than good.
You may decide to look into supplements as an alternative treatment for your dog. Glucosamine and chondroitin, for example, are popular alternative treatments.
It is not clear if they help, but research has found that they can reduce swelling and aid the self-repairing of cartilage, perhaps also helping protect and help to provide lubrication for existing cartilage.
Again, even with supplements, it is vital to get the input of a professional veterinarian, and you should discuss your ideas and options with your vet or qualified holistic healthcare professional.
It is essential to always ask for a written healthcare plan with clear instructions.
Your vet can also give you a demonstration to show you how to administer the treatments properly, and in some cases, if you are not confident enough, you can bring your dog into the clinic for the drugs to be administered.