While dogs can’t tell you if they’re having aches and pains, they do get them. Older dogs become arthritic while puppies have growing pains just like human children do. You might think it’s okay to give your dog human pain medications, but it’s actually very dangerous if you aren’t administering the medication under your vet’s close supervision.
So, Can I Give Aspirin to my Dogs?
Aspirin is okay to give your dog for a very short period of time. You should never, under any circumstances, give your dog aspirin unless your vet has examined your dog and given you the go-ahead. If you miscalculate the dosage, it can have serious consequences for your dog, including liver and kidney damage. Some owners mistakenly believe that using baby aspirin or low-dose aspirin is safer, but the effects are still the same if it’s given incorrectly.
Aspirin is usually only prescribed by vets for dogs with minor pain, like arthritis flare-ups or other insignificant inflammation.
How Often Can I Give My Dog Aspirin?
First, remember that puppies should never have aspirin. Their livers aren’t developed enough to break aspirin down and it could cause irreparable liver damage.
Adult dogs can have aspirin to relieve minor pain or inflammation. The dose is small, so more severe pain is best treated by dog-specific pain medications. You should always give aspirin with food to prevent irritating the lining of the stomach. The proper dosage is almost always the same, but you should be consulting with your veterinarian to determine the best dosage for your dog. There is a high and a low end, and the appropriate amount can differ wildly depending on your dog’s age, weight, and overall health. Most vets recommend 5 to 10 milligrams per pound of body weight, but this amount differs in every dog. Talk to your vet!
Is Aspirin Bad for Dogs?
Aspirin is definitely not the best pain medication for your dog. It can do the job in a pinch, but there are far better choices out there. Even when it’s given in the right dose, your dog may experience negative side effects.
Stomach upset is the most common. Aspirin can be really hard on the stomach and cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. It can even cause stomach ulcers if it’s administered frequently and without food. If your dog is on an aspirin regimen, watch their stools for dark, tarry blood. This indicates blood in the stomach. Buffered aspirin is easier on the stomach and better for repeated doses because it reduces the risk of stomach ulcers.
Aspirin also thins the blood. Some vets will prescribe aspirin during heartworm treatment, but this blood thinning can be detrimental in healthy dogs. If your dog goes into surgery, they’ll bleed excessively if they’ve been taking aspirin. Aspirin should never be given to pregnant or nursing dogs or a dog suffering from Von Willebrand’s disease. Always remind your vet that your dog is on aspirin.
Kidney damage is common when dogs are given medications their bodies can’t effectively metabolize. If your dog has preexisting kidney disease, you should never give them aspirin. For dogs with healthy kidneys, keep an eye out for a significant increase in thirst, increased urination, and a sudden onset of vomiting. These are signs that the kidneys aren’t handling the aspirin well.
What Happens If I Give My Dog Too Much Aspirin?
If you suspect you’ve given your dog too much aspirin, you need to get them to a veterinarian immediately. Signs of an overdose can include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomit with blood in it, pale gums, seizures, loss of consciousness, and rapid breathing. If they’ve received a toxic dose, your dog can die very suddenly.
Safe Arthritis/Inflammation Medications for Dogs
Dogs with creaky hips, sore knees, or other small inflammatory ailments do well with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that are only prescribed by your veterinarian. Any NSAID that you get over the counter at human pharmacies should never be given to your dog. This includes Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve.
Carprofen (brand name Rimadyl) is a very safe and effective NSAID for dogs of all ages. It offers great pain relief while also reducing the inflammation in the body. Dogs on long-term carprofen schedules have to have bloodwork run annually to check on their liver and kidney functions, and most vets won’t refill the medication without that bloodwork in hand. Deracoxib (Deramaxx) is also commonly prescribed for dogs who need long-term pain management. It’s safe for the kidneys and liver, making this an excellent choice in older dogs. Meloxicam (Metacam) is a liquid analgesic commonly given to smaller patients for easy administration.
Over the Counter Aspirin for Dogs
Your vet will tell you the best aspirin to buy for your dog. There are several forms available over the counter, like buffered and enteric coated, as well as baby and low-dose aspirin. These forms are all varied in their milligram content, so the labels need to be carefully read.
To prevent stomach upset, you should give the aspirin with a meal. To actually give it to your dog, the easiest way is tucking it inside a piece of meat, cheese, or a wad of peanut butter. Don’t consider these methods a meal, however; your dog needs a decent amount of food in their stomach to avoid ulcers, nausea, or vomiting.
Aspirin is not something you should just give your dog whenever you think they need it. Given carefully, it’s okay but not ideal. Inappropriate dosage can have severe effects on your dog’s body, and organ damage is never reversible. Always talk to your veterinarian first to discuss safer options for your pup.