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Can You Use Aspirin for Dogs

Can You Use Aspirin for Dogs

In a word No. 

Human aspirin should never be used for dogs, unless it’s under a vet’s strict guidance. In those cases, it needs to be treated as you would a prescription medication i.e. by following instructions carefully. If you’re in the UK, check you’re following the aspirin dosage for dogs in the UK with your vet.


Aspirin overdoses can be fatal.

***Puppies should under no circumstances be given aspirin. They lack the necessary enzymes to break down the aspirin so it can cause severe organ damage.

***Pregnant dogs should under no circumstances be given aspirin. It can cause birth defects.

Some vets would go as far as to argue that there’s no safe dose of human aspirin for dogs i.e. even the smallest amount might cause catastrophic problems. There are many effective, safer alternatives available on the market for your dog.


What is Aspirin?

Willow bark, which contains the compound salicin, was first recorded as being used for pain-relief in 5th century BC.  Acetylsalicylic acid - aspirin - evolved in the 19th century from this and has been marketed as Aspirin since 1900.

Aspirin - acetylsalicylic acid - is an NSAID - non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. In humans it’s used for pain relief, and is also anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting, and fever-reducing. Its human pain relieving properties are often used to treat mild headaches, muscle pain, toothaches, and inflammation from injuries or arthritis.


How does Aspirin Work?

Prostaglandins are some of the body’s pain messengers. Aspirin works by blocking these pain receptors, through blocking the enzymes which produce them.


Why shouldn’t I give aspirin to my dog?

Adverse reactions to aspirin in dogs is quite widely reported so it’s a risky medication to use for your dog.

If your dog is allergic to aspirin, it may provoke an anaphylactic reaction that could be fatal. 

Aspirin’s properties can:

  • Trigger stomach ulcers (because the lining of the stomach needs prostaglandins to protect stomach and intestinal linings)
  • Cause kidney and liver damage 
  • Worsen, or even cause, internal bleeding - particularly of the GI tract 
  • Cause coma 
  • Cause seizure
  • Cause haemorrhaging 
  • Cause stomach ulcers.  

There are even some studies that suggest aspirin can cause cartilage to break down.

Some theories propose aspirin for dogs may actually inhibit healing. This is because, although prostaglandins cause pain, inflammation, and sometimes fever, they’re also an essential part of the healing process. Blocking them therefore may be counterproductive.

Aspirin absolutely shouldn’t be used by dogs with:

  • Bleeding ulcers
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Asthma
  • Liver Failure
  • Decreased Kidney Function
  • Low Blood Protein
  • Anaemia

You should also notify your vet if your dog’s pregnant or on any medications, supplements, vitamins, or herbal remedies, in case of negative interactions with these. There’s a long list of medications that aspirin shouldn’t be taken with, including corticosteroids.


What are the Signs that my dog is having bad side effects to aspirin?

Even if you’re giving your dog aspirin under your doctor’s guidance, this is what you should be looking out for. If you see any of these signs, stop giving your dog aspirin and take them to the vet:

  • Decrease or loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Panting
  • Vomiting (blood tinged vomit that looks like ‘coffee grounds’ is a sign of a stomach ulcer)
  • Tarry, black stools (indication of GI tract bleeding)
  • Bloody urine (indicative of kidney problems or internal bleeding)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Pale gums
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Dehydration
  • Indication of stomach pain

Obviously treat any seizures, haemorrhaging, or coma as a life-or-death medical emergency and get your dog to the vet as quickly as possible.


What can I give my dog instead for pain-relief?

Depending on the nature of the condition for which you needed the aspirin, there are a number of medical, NSAIDS for dogs, and non-medical alternatives.



Conclusion

It’s totally natural and understandable to want to explore all avenues if your dog’s in pain. It’s not surprising that you’re asking yourself, “can you give dogs aspirin for pain?”

However, aspirin shouldn’t be on your list of options. Speak to your vet about alternative pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication, and also consider physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and other complementary therapies.


Aspirin is so risky in terms of serious side-effects, it’s rarely worth it in terms of the pain relief your dog will get as there are similarly effective medications available.

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