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Aspirin For Dogs With Arthritis: Is It Safe?

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Note: Originally written for Hepper


It may be tempting to reach for the aspirin in your medicine cabinet to give to your dog for his aches and pains, but this should be done with caution. Aspirin should only be given under the direct supervision and guidance of your dog’s veterinarian. While it may be one of the more tolerable OTC human medications, there are far better and safer alternative pain relievers your veterinarian can prescribe for arthritis.


Aspirin can cause severe and potentially life-threatening side effects in dogs if it is not administered correctly. It can also interact with many different drugs and interfere with laboratory results which is why your veterinarian needs to be familiar with your dog’s medical history before administering any OTC medications.


What Is Aspirin?

Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Aspirin may also be known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA).


What Is Aspirin Used For?

Aspirin is used for its pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and fever-reducing effects. It also has antiplatelet activity and is used to reduce the aggregation, or clumping, of platelets in certain diseases. In veterinary medicine, it may be used off-label, meaning that it is used in a way other than what is directed on the drug’s label.


What Are the Potential Side Effects of Aspirin?

Adverse effects in dogs include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Lethargy

  • Decreased appetite

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding (bright red or black, tarry stools, and/or bloody vomitus)

  • Abnormal bruising

  • Hypersensitivity reactions (rare)

When Should Aspirin Never Be Given to a Dog?

Aspirin is contraindicated in dogs with:

  • Previous hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to it

  • Bleeding ulcers or other bleeding disorders

  • Asthma

  • Pregnancy

  • Concurrent use with another NSAID or corticosteroid (may increase bleeding risks)

Aspirin should be used cautiously in dogs with:

  • Kidney insufficiency

  • Liver failure

Aspirin should be stopped one week prior to surgical procedures (if possible) due to its antiplatelet effects which can increase the risk of bleeding.


Conclusion

In veterinary medicine, aspirin may be used for your dog’s arthritis, but the dosage and frequency instructions should only be provided by your veterinarian if indicated. Side effects may be dose-dependent and can range from gastrointestinal signs to organ failure and death. OTC medications, including aspirin, should never be given to your dog without your veterinarian’s consent. As with all medicines, closely monitor your dog for any adverse effects and notify your veterinarian immediately if such effects are observed or if an overdose is suspected.

  • Closely follow your veterinarian’s dosage and frequency instructions

  • Always talk with your veterinarian before administering ANY OTC medications

  • Closely monitor your dog for any adverse reactions

  • Keep all medications safely secured and out of reach of pets

Sources






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