As dog owners, it can be hard (and scary) to see our furry friends experiencing pain. You may be panic googling, “can you give a dog aspirin?” in the middle of the night, and you’re not wrong for doing that. We’re with you — we’d do anything to relieve our dog’s pain. We’re glad you’ve made it here.
Over-the-counter medication pain medications should always be researched before anyone gives it to their pet (or themselves)! Whether aspirin is the best choice for your dog or not, it’s important to check in with a veterinarian beforehand. Luckily, we here at Airvet are the perfect way to bridge that gap for you. Chat instantly with a vet now.
What Is Aspirin?
Aspirin is classified as an NSAID, which is short for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (a.k.a pain relievers or pain killers). You may have heard of other NSAIDs like ibuprofen, carprofen, and nabumetone. You have definitely seen brand names like Advil and Aleve on the shelves at CVS or Walgreens!
Our cells, like animals, produce something called prostaglandins. When injured, this family of chemicals promotes inflammation that’s necessary for our bodies to heal. However, this is the part of the healing process where pain and fever tend to show up. Luckily, NSAIDs come running to the rescue and help reduce the symptoms of pain, fever, inflammation, and blood clotting you experience when your body is naturally healing.
Is Aspirin Ok for Dogs?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Since aspirin is an anti-inflammatory drug, it can help reduce the symptoms of pain and inflammation your dog is experiencing. For instance, if your dog has osteoarthritis or other inflammatory issues, your vet could prescribe aspirin to help aid uncomfortable symptoms. It’s always important to have a conversation with Airvet or your own vet before you give your dog any sort of medication because some of the side effects can be damaging.
Aspirin Side Effects
If your veterinarian has prescribed aspirin, know that they feel confident it will help your doggo feel better. However, make sure you’re aware of the risks and symptoms of common adverse reactions or overdose before giving your dog aspirin. Many of the side effects are gastrointestinal so be on the lookout for accidents in the house.
Be on the lookout for any of the following symptoms:
- Diarrhea / Vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Mucosal erosion
- Black, tarry stool
It’s also important that you give the right amount of aspirin that your veterinarian has prescribed. If given more than the exact aspirin dosage for dogs, an overdose can happen.
You should stop giving your dog aspirin and call a vet ASAP if you notice any of the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Acid-base abnormalities
Since aspirin is known to have more side effects than other NSAIDs, paying attention to how your pupper reacts is extremely important!
Should I Give My Dog Aspirin? If So, How Much?
“Although a common at-home NSAID for humans, aspirin is not approved for use in dogs and has been shown in clinical studies to cause subclinical gastrointestinal bleeding when administered. Because there are FDA-approved alternatives for dogs that have significantly less risk available by prescription through your veterinarian (i.e. carprofen), I strongly discourage the use of aspirin for pain relief in dogs, and recommend contacting your veterinarian for dog-safe alternatives.” — Rick Paynter, DVM (Director of Medicine at Owings Mills Veterinary Center in Maryland)
Because of the adverse effects and chance of overdose, you should talk to a vet before giving your dog aspirin or any human medication. Is your dog on any other medications (supplements and vitamins included) that could potentially interact badly with aspirin? Is your pupper expecting puppies? Does your pup have any history of kidney disease? What about a bleeding disorder? Regardless, let the vet know before you reach into your medicine cabinet because the last thing you want to do is put your dog’s health in danger.
Currently, aspirin is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in dogs, which means there is a lack of information around the proper aspirin dosage for dogs.
Important Note: Overdose can result in permanent liver damage or kidney damage in dogs. Remember to consult a vet before giving your dog aspirin.
Again, it is not recommended to give your dog aspirin unless a veterinarian gives you the OK, and gives you your dog’s adjusted dosage. After the confirmed dosage is set, it’s a good idea to ask about what kind of aspirin is best. For example, while aspirin tablets coated in Enteric are great for protecting human stomachs, they aren’t recommended for dogs to ingest because the coating won’t be digested and the aspirin will be excreted whole in the dog’s stool.
Speaking of aspirin, what about low-dose aspirin or “baby aspirin?” A single pill of baby aspirin contains just 81 milligrams of aspirin, which is around a quarter of the 325-milligram dose in an adult aspirin pill. It is still not recommended to give your dog baby aspirin unless a veterinarian gives you the OK, and gives you your dog’s adjusted dosage.
Can I Feed My Dog Tylenol or Acetaminophen?
Never give your dog Tylenol. Tylenol is not safe for dogs. It is highly toxic. The toxic amount depends on the weight, age, and general health of your dog. The larger the dose ingested, the greater the risk of toxicity. Depending on the amount ingested by your dog, liver damage and dry eye may occur. In the case of a high dose or overdose, a condition called methemoglobinemia can occur resulting in red blood cell damage. This damage results in the red blood cells not being able to bind oxygen and your pet’s organs may suffer hypoxic injury.
Aspirin Alternatives for Dogs
If your vet has given you the green light, and your dog doesn’t have any underlying medical conditions or isn’t taking any medication that could interact badly with aspirin, the sky is looking clear for you to give it a go.
If however, they do have a reason not to be on aspirin, there are alternatives that you can ask about. Carprofen is one that is used to treat osteoarthritis and is tolerated better by dogs in general. It’s also FDA-approved!
Another option is CBD. Studies have found positive research while exploring CBD as an aid for pain and inflammation in dogs. Although, there isn’t enough evidence to say it’s a viable alternative. As always, speak with your vet about CBD for your dog, it could be the alternative you’re looking for.
Other possible options for pet pain relief include:
- Physical Therapy
- Dietary Modification
- Dietary Supplementation with natural anti-inflammatory foods and vitamins.
- Regular low-impact exercise
The first step in getting the help you need for your furry friend is researching, so pat yourself on the back for getting this far. Navigating injury and illness for our pets is hard, we 100% get it. Now that you’ve read up on aspirin for dogs, give Airvet a ring. We’ll be happy you called.
Note: This article is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice from a licensed DVM. If you have questions about giving your dog any medication at all, you should always speak with a licensed veterinarian.