Aspirin for Dogs: Is It Safe?

Aspirin for Dogs: Is It Safe?

What To Know About Giving Dogs Aspirin
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Giving dogs aspirin has been debatable over the years. However, there is an appropriate way to give your dog(s) aspirin. We navigate the use of aspirin for your dog here.
6 minute read
By Team Dr.Tail
A vet examining a dog suspected of aspirin poisoning
A vet examining a dog suspected of aspirin poisoning
As a pet parent or a dog enthusiast, you may have thought of giving your canine companion a bit of aspirin (a dog pain relief) for those days when they seem a little under the weather. You may have wondered whether it's a safe call. We examine all you ought to know here. Let's look at aspirin and dogs, from the little details to when it might be a good idea or not so great.
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Can Dogs Take Aspirin?

Yes, dogs can take aspirin, but you must give them cautiously and under the guidance of a veterinarian. Aspirin can relieve dog pain in certain situations, such as managing arthritis or post-surgery pain. However, a vet must carefully determine the dosage and frequency, as giving your dog too much aspirin or using it without proper supervision can lead to adverse effects.
However, not all dogs should be given aspirin, especially those with certain health conditions or those taking specific medications. Aspirin can cause stomach irritation and other complications. Never administer human-grade aspirin to your dog without professional guidance; constantly monitor for any signs of negative reactions.

Potential Side Effects of Aspirin for Dogs

Although aspirin is a dog pain reliever, using aspirin for dogs can come with potential reactions. It’s essential to be aware of these risks. Possible side effects are:
  • Stomach Upset: Aspirin can upset a dog's stomach, which might cause vomiting, diarrhea, or nausea.
  • Gastrointestinal Ulcers: Constant use or high doses of aspirin for dogs may contribute to developing ulcers in a dog's digestive system.
  • Reduced Blood Clotting: Aspirin is a blood thinner, and sometimes, it might lead to higher bleeding tendencies, which can be problematic, mostly during surgery.
  • Kidney and Liver Issues: Excessive use of aspirin can affect the kidneys and liver, affecting a dog's overall health.
  • Allergic Reactions: Dogs allergic to aspirin may experience breathing difficulties, swelling, or itching.

What Causes Aspirin Poisoning In Dogs?

If dogs take excessive aspirin or it's not the correct medication, they might have some problems. Some usual causes include:
  • Wrong Dosage: Administering aspirin or a painkiller without proper guidance or using a dosage meant for humans can lead to poisoning in dogs, as their bodies metabolize medications differently. For instance, using baby aspirin for dogs would not be a good idea.
  • Prolonged Use: Giving aspirin to dogs for an extended period, especially without veterinary advice, can increase the risk of poisoning.
  • Sensitive Breeds: Some dog breeds, particularly certain smaller breeds, are more sensitive to the effects of aspirin, making them prone to poisoning even with lower doses.
  • Underlying Health Conditions: Dogs with pre-existing health issues, such as kidney or liver problems, may be more susceptible to aspirin poisoning.
  • Combining Medications: Administering aspirin and other medications, especially those that affect blood clotting, can lead to poisoning.
  • Ingesting Human Medications: Dogs accessing and ingesting human medications, including aspirin, can lead to poisoning. Ensure medications are stored securely and out of reach of your dog(s).

Signs of Canine Aspirin Poisoning

Identifying the signs of aspirin poisoning in dogs is essential to take immediate action. Typical signs include:
  • Vomiting: Constant vomiting, especially in a short time, may be a sign of aspirin poisoning.
  • Diarrhea: Aspirin poisoning can cause diarrhea, which is frequently followed by thirst.
  • Loss of Appetite: You may notice aspirin poisoning through a sudden drop in appetite or an unwillingness to eat.
  • Fatigue: Aspirin poisoning may cause your dog to have exceptionally high levels of fatigue or sluggishness.
  • Abdominal Pain: Dogs may show symptoms of pain or discomfort in their abdomen.
  • Breathing rapidly: Severe cases may result in breathing difficulties or an increased breathing rate.
  • Behavioral Changes: Aspirin poisoning can cause changes in behavior, such as restlessness or depression.
  • Dehydration: When your furry friend throws up a bunch or has a runny tummy, they can lose a lot of fluids. This makes them thirsty, and you might notice their gums getting dry.
  • Pale Gums: Aspirin can affect blood clotting, leading to pale or discolored gums.
If you observe these symptoms or suspect your dog has ingested aspirin, contact your veterinarian immediately. Prompt veterinary consultation and care are crucial to address aspirin poisoning and prevent potential complications.

Guidelines and Dosage Chart for Aspirin for Dogs

Concerning the amount of aspirin for dogs, you should follow these guidelines:
  • Vet Guidance: Consult an expert vet before giving your dog aspirin. They can provide proper dosage instructions based on your dog's size, health, and needs.
  • Correct Dosage: Never use human-grade aspirin for dogs, especially without your vet's approval. The dosage for dogs is significantly different, and using the wrong amount can lead to complications.
  • Limited Duration: Aspirin is generally prescribed for short-term use. Extended use may raise the possibility of negative consequences. Follow a professional's recommended duration.
  • Food with Aspirin: Give aspirin with food to minimize the risk of stomach upset. This can be particularly useful in reducing the chance of GI tract issues.
  • Check for Side Effects: Pay special attention to your dog and watch out for any indications of discomfort, reactions, or behavioral changes.
  • Avoid in Certain Cases: Dogs with specific health conditions, such as kidney or liver issues, may not be suitable candidates for aspirin. Pregnant dogs and puppies also require special consideration.
  • Don’t Mix Medications: Avoid combining aspirin with other medications, especially without consulting your vet. Some drug interactions can be harmful.

Diagnosis for Dog Aspirin Poisoning

Diagnosing dog aspirin poisoning involves a combination of clinical signs, history, and sometimes specific tests. Here's how vets approach the diagnosis:
  • Clinical Signs: Vets will assess your dog's symptoms and any other noticeable changes in behavior or appearance.
  • History: Providing information about the amount of aspirin ingested, when it occurred, and any other relevant details help the vet understand the extent of the situation.
  • Blood Tests: In some cases, vets may conduct blood tests to check for aspirin levels in the bloodstream and evaluate its impact on various organs.
  • Urinalysis: Analyzing the urine can provide additional information about the extent of aspirin toxicity and its effects on the kidneys.

How Do You Treat Aspirin Poisoning in Dogs?

If you suspect your dog has overdosed on aspirin and become poisoned, take the following precautions:
  • Determine the Source: Identify the specific NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine) or pain reliever that was taken, including aspirin, ibuprofen, carprofen, naproxen, or a supplement that was purchased over the counter.
  • Call your Vet: Call your vet immediately and provide details, including the amount of aspirin ingested, your dog's weight, and any symptoms observed.
  • Induce Vomiting (if advised): Your vet may instruct you to induce vomiting at home. Giving a tiny dose of hydrogen peroxide will help with this. However, never cause vomiting without your vet's explicit instructions.
  • Activated Charcoal: If you can't reach the vet right away and it's advised, your vet might recommend giving your dog activated charcoal. This helps absorb the aspirin/pain relief and prevent further absorption into the bloodstream.
  • Fluid Therapy: Treatment may involve intravenous fluids to help flush the aspirin from your dog's system and prevent dehydration.
  • Monitoring: Your vet will monitor your dog closely for signs of distress, and additional treatment may be administered as needed.
Moving ahead, take precautions to deny your dog access to over-the-counter drugs. Store medications securely, and be cautious with any substances that could be harmful. Remember, immediate action is crucial when dealing with potential poisoning. Only try to treat aspirin poisoning at home after consulting your vet, as the proper treatment will depend on various factors.