Seeing your dog in pain as a pet parent breaks your hurt, which is why many people try to relieve their canines suffering using common human painkillers such as aspirin.
You may have all the best intentions when giving your dog aspirin, but is it safe, will it help the situation, are there potential side effects, and do vets recommend the drug?
In this post, we answer all the above questions in detail. Let’s get to it.
What is aspirin?
Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or simply an NSAID.
The drug belongs in the same category as carprofen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and many other NSAIDs, geared toward animals and humans.
Being an NSAID, aspirin is used to cure fever, inflammation, and pain. Additionally, aspirin is also an anticoagulant; it prevents blood clotting.
Aspirin works primarily by preventing the production of an enzyme known as cyclooxygenase.
Cyclooxygenase produces prostaglandins, hormone-like chemicals that have numerous beneficial roles like regulating blood flow and forming protective mucus.
In addition to prostaglandin’s advantageous roles, the hormone supports inflammation, fever, and pain.
In simpler terms, aspirin stops the pain and inflammation by cutting off their causative agents.
Generally, NSAIDs have lesser negative effects compared to steroids.
However, certain NSAIDs such as Rimadyl work best for long-term use compared to other drugs.
Why do veterinary doctors prescribe aspirin for dogs?
Veterinary doctors mostly prescribe aspirin for canines that have musculoskeletal inflammation or osteoarthritis.
Aspirin contains anti-inflammatory properties which aid in the reduction of pain and inflammation caused by these conditions and help relieve your dog’s symptoms.
Benefits of giving aspirin to dogs
Prevention of blood clots
Aspirin interferes with normal platelet functioning. The drug has anticoagulant or blood thinning properties that prevent the formation of blood clots and reduce the chances of a dog having a stroke.
Treats inflammation and fever
As an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), aspirin can reduce fever and manage inflammation, a feature that’s particularly beneficial to dogs with arthritis.
Humans mostly use aspirin for pain relief. In dogs, vets prescribe the drug for mutts with dental issues, leg injuries, or osteoarthritis.
A recent study by professors at the University of Pennsylvania indicated that aspirin could reduce the spread of cancer in canines by preventing cancer cells from damaging the blood platelets.
A few studies suggest aspirin could help reduce eye problems (retinopathies) in diabetic canines, though research is still ongoing.
Risks and side effects of aspirin for dogs
Like all other medications, aspirin has its fair share of side effects that mostly arise when a dog takes the drug for a long time or is sensitive to its components.
Some of the common side effects of aspirin in dogs include:
Prostaglandins help blood flow to your dog’s kidneys. Therefore, aspirin could lessen blood flow to these critical organs and interfere with their normal functioning.
Regularly giving your dog aspirin could result in liver damage because the liver soaks up these toxins.
A dog’s liver is the primary detoxification organ. Hence, it can easily get damaged when it has to process too many toxins.
The excess toxins could lead to acute liver failure or hepatitis.
Since aspirin functions as a blood thinner, it can prevent blood from clotting when your dog gets injured or undergoes surgery.
Canines suffering from Von Willebrand disease should not take aspirin. The Von Willebrand disease is a long-term bleeding disorder whereby a dog’s blood doesn’t clot.
In some cases, aspirin could bring about internal bleeding, which you may not notice until its advanced.
The bleeding could emanate from a stomach ulcer or any point in the digestive tract.
Slow down healing
Remember earlier on; we learned aspirin inhibits prostaglandins production? Well, that may be ideal for pain relief, but it’s not for other body functions.
That is because prostaglandins play a key role in healing, so when aspirin limits their production, it could result in unwanted effects, among them being slow healing.
Other side effects of aspirin are;
- Stomach ulceration
- Tarry, black stool
- Mucosal erosion
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Pale gums
- Blood in urine
Furthermore, if your canine has preexisting health issues or has shown sensitivity towards aspirin, you should consult your doctor before administration.
It would help if you didn’t give aspirin to dogs:
- Allergic to the active drug ingredient
- Taking other medications
- Has bleeding disorders or bleeding ulcers
- Liver damage, kidney disease, or asthma
- Lactating or pregnant dogs
Note: If a dog is taking aspirin and is supposed to undergo surgery, you should discontinue administration of the drug a week before the procedure to prevent cases of over bleeding.
Aspirin dosage for dogs
According to the Merc Veterinary Manual guidelines, you can give canines between 10 and 40 milligrams of aspirin per 2.2lbs (kilograms) of body weight.
However, the ideal dosage for your dog depends entirely on its underlying conditions and previous health issues.
Therefore, it would be best to consult your doctor for the exact dose.
Normally vet doctors recommend giving your mutt aspirin by mouth every 12 hours and that the drug will take between 1 to 2 hours to take effect.
There are two varieties of aspirin on the market,
- Regular aspirin; constitutes 325miligrams of acetylsalicylic acid
- Baby Aspirin; constitutes 80 milligrams of acetylsalicylic acid
If you have a small dog breed such as a poodle, chihuahua, or Bichon Frise, Baby aspirin would be an ideal choice.
On the other hand, larger dog breeds like a Great Dane, Bullmastiff, or Cane Corso would respond well to the regular aspirin.
Remember to always seek your veterinary doctor’s advice on the particular aspirin dosage guidelines to avoid more health issues.
Regardless of the type of aspirin, you must strictly follow the recommended dosage as an overdose could easily lead to fatality.
Aspirin overdose in canines mostly manifests the symptoms below
- Seizures and tremors
- Wobbly gait
If you suspect your dog could be experiencing an aspirin overdose, you should seek immediate veterinary attention.
Aspirin usage guidelines
It would be best if you did not offer your dog human aspirin tablets because they have an enteric coating so as not to damage the human stomach.
Enteric-coated drugs take longer to dissolve in a dog’s stomach and are mostly ineffective.
Hence it would be better to go for chewable tablets with an enticing dog flavor and acetylsalicylic acid.
You should also note that aspirin can interact with other drugs your dog could take and cause negative side effects.
Some of the drugs that could cause such a reaction include
- ACE inhibitors
- SSRI antidepressants
- Oral anticoagulants
- Blood glucose lowering drugs
- Furosemide and spironolactone
Natural alternatives to aspirin
If you are afraid of the potential side effects your dog could incur while taking aspirin, you will be glad to learn that there are natural solutions you can use.
Here are a couple of suggestions.
Homeopathic remedies for pain relief
Homeopathic treatments can be highly effective for pain relief when conducted properly.
It would help if you chose a remedy that suits your dog’s exact symptoms. You should also seek the advice of a professional homeopath if your dog has a chronic condition.
Some supreme homeopathy remedies are:
- Ruta Graveolens- heals tendons and ligaments quickly and efficiently.
- Rhus Toxicodendron- mainly for pain or stiffness that lessens when your dog moves around. Works well for dogs with arthritis, strains, and sprains.
- Arnica Montana- first remedy you should give your canine when it experiences trauma or has an injury.
- Calcarea carbonica- is a treatment for persistent pain, particularly for dogs with inflammations in their ligaments, hips, or around their knees.
Numerous studies have shown that CBD oil can help with both conditions, whether your canine has persistent joint pain or an injury.
CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory compound that works by attaching to your dog’s CB1 receptors found in the brain.
These receptors stimulate your canine’s immune system, thereby lowering the inflammation.
Additionally, CBD oil changes how your dog perceives pain as it combines with CB2 receptors in a dog’s brain that affect the nervous system.
For effective results, use 1000 milligram full spectrum CBD oil and give your furry friend a drop a day, straight in his mouth.
If you observe that your dog requires more to ease the pain, you can add more drops.
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)
If your furry friend has chronic pain or osteoarthritis, Frankincense Boswellia is an herb you should try.
The herb contains phytochemicals that experts say aid in controlling inflammation.
A recent study found that dogs that took Boswellia for 6 weeks had immensely lowered their arthritis symptoms by up to 72%
Boswellia is also an ingredient in many herbal anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving remedies.
If you buy one of these medications, ensure you follow the dosage guidelines indicated on the label.
However, if you only use Boswellia, mix it with food, and use 5 or 10 milligrams per day following your canine’s weight.
Devils claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
Devils claw is a popular African plant used as an analgesic or anti-inflammatory herb.
Scientists have extensively researched the plant; studies indicate it can lessen muscle and arthritis pain. It’s also affordable and available at local health stores.
When buying the plant, it’s worth noting that it’s packaged for human use. So, you will have to assume the packaging is for a 160 lb. adult and adjust according to your canine’s weight.
Caution: You should not give devil claw to lactating, diabetic, or pregnant dogs. Additionally, the herb could interact with some drugs, particularly hypo or hypertensive drugs.
Therefore, it would be best to consult your vet before using the herb.
Cayenne (capsicum spp)
Cayenne emanates from hot chile pepper. Cayenne works by blocking pain and increasing circulation to joints and connective tissues; thus, it is a practical pain reliever.
You can buy creams and ointments containing capsicum and apply them topically on your dog’s painful areas.
The topical application of such creams reduces pain and triggers your dog’s anti-inflammatory response.
For internal use, you can buy cayenne capsules containing a tiny amount of the powder or add a small bit of the cayenne powder to your canine’s food.
Caution: When used moderately, cayenne won’t irritate your dog’s digestive system. However, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, you should avoid using the herb and go for other options.
Turmeric can ease stiffness, pain, and inflammation, which makes it a preferable choice if your dog has persistent pain or arthritis.
The spice contains an active ingredient known as curcumin. Curcumin is a compound that has a lot of medicinal properties.
It’s an antiviral, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agent.
Curcumin can also aid with arthritis and many more diseases.
Studies have also shown that in some instances, curcumin works better than
- Arthritis medications
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
How to administer curcumin or turmeric
There are numerous ways you can help your dog using this yellow spice.
Buy turmeric powder and add 1/4 or 1/8 tablespoon daily to your dogs’ food. Ensure you buy the organic powder, as it has no artificial additives.
On the other hand, you can purchase a supplement with curcumin and administer it according to the packaging instructions.
Safe Guard Probiotic.
Vet doctors highly recommend pro and prebiotics for dogs since these supplements ensure your dog has a healthy gut.
A well-balanced gut lessens the effect of joint pain, inflammation, rheumatoid, and osteoarthritis.
Moreover, Safe Guard probiotics contain beneficial bacteria like lactobacillus and bacillus coagulants that enhance the absorption of nutrients.
As a result, your dog will have a stronger immune system and more energy to exercise, preventing the chances of developing chronic diseases.
Studies have also shown that probiotics such as Safe Guard play a critical role in easing inflammation due to their positive impact on a dog’s immunity system.
Apart from pain relief Safe Guard probiotic will also
- Lessen gastrointestinal issues
- Reduce allergic reactions
- Lessen behavioural disorders like anxiety
- Reduce food allergies
Aspirin can help relieve your dog’s pain and inflammation; however, you should realize that using it risks your dog experiencing many side effects.
Therefore, we recommend your first talk with your doctor before administering the drug.
Better yet, you can use other healthier and less risky alternatives such as devils’ claw, Boswellia, and Safe Guard Probiotic.