Dogs & Aspirin: Using This Anti-Inflammatory With Vet Guidance

Do dogs and aspirin mix? Here's what you need to know before raiding your medicine cabinet. 

Pet owners almost always have over-the-counter medicines on hand, most with humans as the intended consumer. But, some of these medications can be used for your dogs and cats. For example, we know that dogs can take Benadryl for allergies, with the proper dosage, as well as other anti-histamines. However, when treating injuries and pain, you may be stumped at what steps to take while you wait for your vet appointment. There are plenty of anti-inflammatories like aspirin. But, do dogs and aspirin mix?

Benefits of Aspirin For Dogs

dog sits with a vet

Aspirin is similar to drugs like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, carprofen, and meloxicam — These pain relievers are more commonly known as Advil, Aleve, or Tylenol. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) can be purchased over the counter, meaning you can buy it without a prescription from your doctor.

However, some veterinarians prescribe it for dogs or suggest that you use baby aspirin, but it is best to consult with your vet on dosage. Aspirin is commonly used for pain relief and to prevent blood clotting. If your dog has joint pain, inflammation, or an injury, your vet may decide that aspirin is a viable option to manage your dog's pain, especially if they are dealing with conditions like osteoarthritis. A vet may also prescribe aspirin for other conditions, but pet owners should follow their vet's instructions to the letter and reach out if they have any questions.

Aspirin Side Effects

a tipped over bottle of aspirin

RELATED: Is Pepto Bismol for Dogs a Safe At-Home Treatment?

Aspirin may be safe to give to your dog. However, it should not be given without a consultation and dosing schedule from your vet. As with all pain medications, serious side effects from the improper use of aspirin can be deadly for your pup. Some dogs may even have an allergic reaction.

A common side effect to the NSAID that dog owners should watch for are the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Ulcers
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Mucosal erosion

If you see any of these symptoms in your pup, they could be potentially life-threatening. Seek veterinary advice as soon as you notice one of these side effects and stop giving your pup the pain killer. Dogs can also overdose on aspirin, especially if the dose is not correct for their current body weight.

Signs of aspirin poisoning to look out for are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizure
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Coma
  • Death

Aspirin is not meant for long-term use in dogs, so pet owners must keep a watchful eye on their dogs while taking the medication. Changes in eating habits, activity levels, personality, and urination need to be reported to your vet immediately. Toxicity can easily occur, leading to kidney disease, gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver damage.

Some vets will give Rimadyl instead since it has fewer side effects than aspirin. The FDA has not issued approval for aspirin, so there is no guidance for dosing dogs and cats. But your vet will have a general range for your pup based on size and ailment.

Have you given your dog aspirin? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

READ MORE: 5 Home Remedies for Pets That You Can Find in Your Kitchen Cupboards