Aspirin and Your Dog: Only With Vet's Approval

Drug Commonly Causes Side Effects

Bulldog at vet hospital
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You love your dog, and when it is in pain, you naturally want to give medication to ease that pain, but giving human medications such as aspirin and acetaminophen to pets can cause more problems than it cures. Here's why you should avoid giving your dog these pain relievers unless recommended by your veterinarian.

Can I Give My Dog Aspirin?

It is important not to just give a drug because the dog is "not himself" or is in pain when you don't know what is causing the problem.

A trip to the vet is definitely in order to find out the root of the problem. It might be pain-related, and it might not be.

Aspirin is sometimes used for dogs to ease the pain of arthritis, but only with caution and under veterinary supervision. Drugs containing acetaminophen (Tylenol) are very toxic to pets and are potentially fatal to both dogs and cats.

Aspirin is in a class of drugs called NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and dogs are particularly sensitive to the gastrointestinal effects; pain, bleeding, and ulceration can be a side effect of these drugs. Coated aspirin helps with the gastrointestinal effects. Aspirin can cause birth defects, so it should not be given to pregnant animals.

Aspirin also interacts with several other drugs, particularly cortisone, digoxin, some antibiotics, phenobarbital, and furosemide (Lasix).  Check with your veterinarian about what is going on with your pet and what would be the best drug for the problem before trying to do a quick fix with a pain-reliever.

Newer and Better Drugs for Dogs and Cats

Canine NSAID drugs such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Previcox can be good alternatives to aspirin for canine arthritis.

Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, such as Cosequin,  also can ease the pain for arthritic pets and can be used alone or with NSAIDs or other therapies.

It is always prudent to see your veterinarian and have your pet evaluated for pain, overall health, and bloodwork to check liver and kidneys if indicated before using these medications.

If you suspect that your pet has gotten into a poison or overdosed, call your veterinarian or national hotlines, such as ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. or Pet Poison Helpline.

As with any drug, only give it to your dog under the advice and supervision of your veterinarian.​ If your pet is showing any signs of illness, consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.