“Hey, Dr. Smith! My dog seems really stiff. Can I give him something? What about aspirin?”
I have been asked this question every single day of my practice career.
Aspirin for Dogs: Effective, Cheap, and Readily Available
Aspirin is an NSAID and has been used for years to alleviate simple aches and pains in dogs.
Everybody has it in their at-home medicine cabinet.
Is Aspirin Safe For My Dog?
Yes, it is safe, especially in small doses and for a short period of time.
But, for bumps and bruises, it is fine.
Several things to be aware of:
- The most serious side effect is gastric ulceration and subsequent perforation. Gastric ulceration can resolve with discontinuation of the aspirin. Perforation is much more serious and can result in death. If you use aspirin to control pain and gastrointestinal signs (vomiting, diarrhea, and inappetance) develop, stop the medicine immediately.
- Aspirin is a drug and should not, under any circumstances, be used with other drugs unless recommended by your veterinarian. Drugs that should not be used with aspirin include all NSAIDs and prednisone. The side effects of combining these medicines can be disastrous.
- Enteric-coated and buffered pills lessens stomach discomfort in dogs. This fact is debatable but is my recommendation. Remember, NSAIDs are not labeled for use in dogs but have been used for years. Most of the information regarding aspirin use in dogs has been gleaned from human literature and anecdotal evidence.
- Start at the lowest dose and only use for a few days. NSAID dose in dogs is debatable but a good starting point is 10 mg/lb given twice daily with food.
- If you are using low dose aspirin for dogs and decide to go the the veterinarian, make sure you inform your veterinarian. The reason why is because your veterinarian may recommend a different NSAID. Giving a different NSAID such as Rimadyl without an adequate washout period can exacerbate and perpetuate disastrous adverse events. The washout period following NSAIDs should be 10-14 days.
- Never use Tylenol or Advil in dogs. These are brand names. The drug names are acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Both of these drugs are potentially toxic and not recommended.
- Cat lovers, do not use any NSAIDs in cats unless recommended by your veterinarian. NSAIDs and cats don’t mix well and the side effects can be deadly.
- A variety of over the counter medicines contain aspirin including Kaopectate, Maalox and Pepto-Bismol. Use these products sparingly for digestive issues.
NSAIDs have their place in veterinary medicine.
However, it should be used judiciously considering all of the potential side effects and risk factors associated with its use.