Can I Give My Dog Aspirin?
While they may not always make it obvious, dogs experience pain in much the same way humans do. Whether your dog is suffering from arthritis or some kind of injury, you may be thinking, can I give my dog aspirin to reduce his pain?
Aspirin is a common pain reliever and you probably already have some in your medicine cabinet, but is it safe to give your dog? Keep reading to find out.
What Do You Need to Know About Aspirin?
Aspirin belongs to a class of drugs known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAID pain relievers. These drugs are available over-the-counter and they work by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. This enzyme is responsible for producing prostaglandins, a type of lipid compound that promotes inflammation and triggers both fever and pain. Other drugs that belong to this same group of NSAID pain relievers include ibuprofen and naproxen.
While aspirin may help to relieve pain by inhibiting prostaglandin production, it could also cause a problem with your dog’s kidneys. These lipids play a role in supporting adequate blood flow to the kidneys and they also play a role in creating a mucus layer in the gastrointestinal tract which protects it from stomach acid. If your dog takes too much aspirin and these functions become reduced, he may develop negative side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, digestive problems, bleeding disorders, or even kidney and liver failure.
Is It Safe to Give a Dog Aspirin?
Aspirin is a pain-relieving medication intended for use in humans, but it may be safe to give it to your dog if under supervision by your veterinarian. The negative effects mentioned in the previous section are a serious risk to take, so it may be a good idea to consider other options before you give your dog aspirin. If you do treat your dog with aspirin, be very careful about the dosage and understand that, even with the correct dosage, some dogs develop a negative reaction to human NSAIDs.
If your veterinarian recommends aspirin for your dog, he will likely prescribe a dosage between 10mg to 40mg. The proper dosage may vary according to your dog’s age and size as well as the condition he is being treated for. The most common reasons to prescribe aspirin for a dog include musculoskeletal inflammation and osteoarthritis. Whatever your dog is being treated for, make sure to follow the vet’s dosing instructions carefully because an overdose could be fatal.
The Bottom Line
There is always a risk when giving your dog medication – especially if it is a human medication. It is difficult to predict how a dog’s body will react to a drug, even if it is something that seems harmless like aspirin. While some dogs may be perfectly fine with taking aspirin, others develop serious reactions, so you should think carefully about whether it is worth the risk. If you do give your dog aspirin, consult your veterinarian first and follow his dosing instructions very carefully.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
More by Kate Barrington