What is the Proper Aspirin Dosage for Dogs?

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When you have a headache, you probably reach into your medicine cabinet for a bottle of aspirin. Over-the-counter pain relievers like this are inexpensive to purchase, easy to find, and they work well for general pain relief.

When your dog is in pain, however, the solution may not be quite so easy. Keep reading to learn more about whether aspirin is safe for dogs and, if so, what the proper dosage is.

Related: Can I Give My Dog Aleve?

Is It Safe to Give Your Dog Aspirin?

Aspirin belongs to a class of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs. These medications are available over-the-counter in various forms such as controlled release tablets and immediate release tablets. Dosages vary as well, and there are various formulations to treat specific forms of pain. One of the primary uses for aspirin, however, is to treat pain and inflammation related to various forms of arthritis.

Veterinarians sometimes prescribe aspirin to dogs suffering from musculoskeletal inflammation or osteoarthritis. Aspirin works by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase which produces inflammatory prostaglandins. Unfortunately, in addition to inhibiting this enzyme, aspirin also acts as an anti-coagulant which prevents the blood from clotting. Though NSAIDs like aspirin have fewer side effects than steroidal medications, there are definitely risks. If you do give your dog aspirin, do so only with your veterinarian’s guidance and follow his dosing instructions carefully.

Related: Meloxicam for Dogs: Is It Safe?

What’s the Proper Dosage  of aspirin for Dogs?

While aspirin is not approved by the FDA for use in dogs, some veterinarians do prescribe it. The recommended dosage is somewhere between 10mg and 40mg/kg, depending on your dog’s condition. You should also know that there are different kinds of aspirin out there and not all of them are safe for dogs. Enteric-coated tablets, for example, are designed to protect the lining of the intestines from irritation, but this coating can prevent your dog’s body from breaking down and absorbing the tablet.

Before giving your dog aspirin, make sure you tell your veterinarian about any other medications he may be taking. Aspirin can interact poorly with digoxin, certain antibiotics, anti-coagulants, corticosteroids, and various other drugs so it pays to be cautious. Even if you don’t think it is significant, tell your veterinarian everything so he has enough information to determine the level of risk that comes with giving your dog aspirin.

What Are the Potential Side Effects?

While it may technically be safe to give your dog aspirin, there are safer options – drugs that have been approved by the FDA for treating pain in dogs. If you do give your dog aspirin, be on the lookout for side effects because they can happen even if you administer the proper dosage. Potential side effects of taking aspirin may include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Ulcers
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hemorrhage
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Even if you use the right dosage, you should still monitor your dog closely after giving him aspirin to make sure he doesn’t have a negative reaction. If you notice any of the symptoms above, or if your dog just starts acting differently, take him to the vet immediately for treatment.

What Does Aspirin Poisoning In Dogs Look Like?

Unfortunately, dogs can suffer from aspirin poisoning. It may happen if dogs get into aspirin or other salicylate-containing products in your house and take in too large a dose. It may be you giving too large a dose. It could come from a single incident or repeated dosing for something like osteoarthritis.

As we’ve said, if your dog has other medical conditions like clotting disorders, liver or kidney disease, that may put them at greater risk of aspirin poisoning. Particularly if your dog is already taking steroids or other NSAIDS.

Because aspirin and other NSAIDs block some of the chemical processes in your dog’s body that can cause inflammation, they can also block important processes that are key to your dog’s kidney, liver and clotting functions too. This is how poisoning occurs.

Initially, you may not see any signs or symptoms of aspirin poisoning. The biggest issue you’re likely to see is gastro problems and ulceration (which will cause bleeding). Your dog may have abdominal pain, vomit, have diarrhea or really dark stools. They may not have an appetite and their gums may turn pale. They may be depressed or lethargic and even have what looks like seizures or coma. If your dog has accidentally taken any aspirin/salcylates, you have to contact your vet and/or the Pet Poison Helpline asap. The number is 1-800-213-6680. Even if you are using the proper dosage of aspirin for dogs, you still want to watch–everybody metabolizes differently.

Natural Ways to Help Ease Discomfort in Your Dog

When our dogs are showing signs of pain or discomfort, we naturally want to find a solution to make them feel better. In some situations, this may be accomplished through the use of pain medications as prescribed or recommended by your veterinarian. However, there are other ways that you can help to make your dog as comfortable as possible. These methods are a great choice if you are waiting for the pain killers to take effect or for situations where pain killers may not be recommended.

  1. A common solution used for our own aching joints, hot and cold therapy can help to provide temporary relief of aches and pains. Try applying an ice pack or a heating pad to the area of your dog’s body that is causing discomfort. Be careful not to apply extreme heat or cold directly to their skin as this can cause additional problems. Instead, you can wrap the ice pack or heating pad in a towel to provide a layer of protection.
  2. If your dog’s aches and pains are caused by a condition like arthritis, you may be able to manage their ongoing pain levels using a joint supplement. Containing beneficial ingredients like glucosamine, repairing the cartilage in your dog’s joints to strengthen them and prevent pain. This isn’t a miracle solution that will eliminate any problems that they are facing, but it can help significantly.
  3. There are some food and ingredients that have been credited with having anti-inflammatory properties. Including these items in your dog’s regular diet can help to regulate and manage any ongoing pain. Some popular examples are turmeric and fish oil.
  4. Alternative therapies aren’t just for humans! Consider reaching out to a holistic veterinarian or alternative practitioner of acupuncture or massage therapy to discuss the treatment options for your dog. Not only will these treatments help to relieve pain by encouraging blood flow and circulation, but they can also help to reduce your dog’s stress levels.
  5. Provide your dog with a comfortable orthopedic dog bed to relax and sleep on. Not only will this help immediately by allowing them to rest comfortably, but the bed can also help on a more long-term front. Orthopedic beds are designed to avoid pressure points. If your dog often sleeps on the hard floor or ground, switching to an orthopedic bed can help to prevent triggering this pain moving forward.  
  6. Limit activities like jumping up on furniture and climbing stairs that can trigger additional pain. Use safety gates to block off stairways and, where possible, provide a ramp for easier low-impact access.

While none of the options here is a substitute for proper veterinary care, they can be used in conjunction with your dog’s medical care to provide comfort and relief. However, if you do notice that your dog is showing signs of pain, it is recommended that you start by contacting your veterinarian to ensure that there isn’t an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.