When you have a dog that is showing pain from an injury or from arthritis and degenerative joint disease, you want to help alleviate their pain and keep them comfortable. We know aspirin is a good pain reliever for many people, but is aspirin safe for dogs? If you are considering whether or not to give your dog aspirin, you should consult with your veterinarian. The proper dose of dog aspirin is safe provided they do not have other underlying conditions and are not on other anti-inflammatory drugs. However, there are some good natural alternatives available for treating chronic pain.
Can Dogs Have Aspirin?
When you feel pain, you may reach for aspirin as a first choice for pain relief. It is natural to think that aspirin and dogs are a similar combination. You need to remember that dogs do not metabolize drugs the same way as people. Giving enteric coated or buffered aspirin that is formulated for humans can reduce absorption resulting in a build up in the stomach. Over time, your dog could get a toxic dose of aspirin. This is one of many reasons you want to consult with your veterinarian about aspirin and dogs. They can provide you with buffered aspirin for dogs like Excel Aspirin.
When you are asking "is aspirin safe for dogs?", you need to consider more than the source of the aspirin. Your veterinarian will evaluate your dog's health and age to determine if aspirin for a short course of treatment is a good option. Dogs with a history of digestive problems or bleeding issues are at greater risk for negative side effects like ulcers or stomach bleeding. In this case, you should consider other alternatives. If your canine friend is older, your veterinarian will likely request blood and/or urine tests to make sure there are no underlying kidney or liver problems. Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and can have damaging side effects on the stomach, liver and kidneys especially with long-term use. Because aspirin is an NSAID, it should not be used in conjunction with other anti-inflammatory drugs. Combining with another NSAID or a corticosteroid could increase the risk of side effects.
How Can I Give Aspirin to My Dog?
Aspirin can be used short term to treat acute pain symptoms in dogs. As stated above, it is important to use a product that is formulated for dogs to ensure it will be properly digested and absorbed. Buffered aspirin for dogs is effective as an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory if given in an appropriate dose. To treat pain, the recommended aspirin dosage for dogs is 5 milligrams per pound of body weight once or twice a day. Because aspirin can be hard on the stomach, it is important to give this medication with food. If you do not notice improvement within a few days or if your dog is vomiting, gets diarrhea or refuses to eat, stop giving aspirin immediately and call your veterinarian. It may be time to consider other alternatives that do not produce these digestive symptoms and that are safer for long term management of chronic pain.
What Alternatives Are There for Pain in Dogs?
In addition to aspirin, there are other NSAIDs and corticosteroids for pain in dogs. However, these can lead to similar side effects of gastrointestinal upset, ulcers and on rare occasion kidney or liver damage. If your dog is already showing symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting or refusing to eat, you need to find an alternative that will not make the symptoms worse. There are some very good natural products available that provide anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects without the side effects of aspirin and other medications.
One natural product that is very effective is Yucca Intensive, an all natural extract from the Yucca plant. This extract contains steroidal saponins that have strong anti-inflammatory properties and no known side effects. Yucca has a very bitter taste and should be diluted and mixed with food to give to your dog. Another alternative to aspirin is white willow bark. This is an herb that is often available in health food stores and has been dubbed "natural aspirin". It has a similar chemical structure to aspirin and should not be used in conjunction with NSAIDS or corticosteroids. While safer than aspirin, it does have a small risk of gastrointestinal symptoms, bleeding issues, or liver and kidney effects. These natural pain killers are most useful to treat acute pain for the short term.
If your dog's pain is linked to arthritis or joint pain, you can use joint health and nutritional supplements to help manage and alleviate symptoms long term. Supplementation with products such as GlycoFlex III which contains glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM helps to support joint health. By providing these nutrients to your dog, you give their body some key building blocks needed to repair cartilage and keep it healthy. Use of these products long term often alleviates or reduces the pain of degenerative joint disease. Additionally, nutritional supplementation with omega 3 fatty acids contributes to joint health and provides the body with essential fatty acids that are instrumental in reducing inflammation.
When you notice pain in your furry friend and ask, "can dogs have aspirin?" there are many factors to consider. While aspirin can be used safely in dogs that are not on other anti-inflammatory drugs, there are risks and side effects associated with this and other NSAIDs. If aspirin is not working short term, or if you notice symptoms of digestive upset, you should contact your veterinarian. If traditional medications are not viable to treat your dog's pain, there are good natural alternatives available to treat acute pain and to help manage chronic conditions for the long term.