Giving Your Dog Aspirin
by Ron Kurtus (revised 11 November 2008)
If your dog has chronic pain or inflammation, common aspirin can often be used to give your pet some relief. Since aspirin can cause stomach problems, care should be used, and it should always be given with food. The safe amount of aspirin to give depends on your dog's weight. It is always wise to check with your vet before administering aspirin or any other medication.
Questions you may have include:
- What is aspirin used for in dogs?
- What warnings or problems are there?
- How much should I give?
This lesson will answer those questions. Animal Health Disclaimer
Uses for aspirin
Dogs are most commonly given aspirin for treatment of arthritis and associated joint pain. There may be other situations where your dog is in pain, where aspirin may give relief.
Aspirin has good anti-inflammatory effects that reduce swelling. It can also reduce pain and fever. These effects will help make your dog more comfortable.
Note that a dog is not a human. Just because your dog "does not feel good", it is not a reason to give it an aspirin. Usually, aspirin is given as temporary solution to relieve extreme conditions of discomfort. Also note that most vets prescribe Rimadyl as a better pain-killer and anti-inflammatory than aspirin.
You should use caution In administering any medication to a pet. Giving too large of a dose of aspirin may be toxic to your dog. Sometimes the medicine may not be tolerated or it can cause an upset stomach. If often given without food, aspirin can cause ulcers in the stomach.
Can be toxic
It can be toxic if given in high doses of about 30 mg (milligram) per pound of the dog. This means that even a baby aspirin could be poisonous for dogs weighing two pounds or less. An adult aspirin, which is 320 mg, would be toxic for a 10-pound dog.
Use extreme caution when giving aspirin to a very small breed dog. It is also better to give less than more.
To be sure that you are using the aspirin for the right reason and at the right dose, you should consult your veterinarian first.
Not for young dogs or cats
Aspirin is poorly tolerated by young dogs, since they lack the enzymes necessary to process the aspirin. The same is true for most cats.
Do not give aspirin to your puppy or to your cat.
Aspirin can cause gastrointestinal upsets and ulcers in dogs, just as in humans. You should pay attention to your dog's eating habits when you have been giving it aspirin to watch for signs of an upset stomach.
If there are any signs of ulcers, such as blood-tinged vomiting, it is important to stop the aspirin. Since aspirin slows down blood clotting, a bleeding ulcer could prove fatal to the dog.
To minimize stomach problems, always give food with the aspirin. I prefer to grind up the aspirin and put it in some food to make sure it does not irritate the stomach lining.
You should not give your dog such products as Tylenol as a substitute for real aspirin. Some people say their vet prescribed Tylenol, but most sources say it should not be given to animals.
Tylenol, Advil or similar non-aspirin pain relievers meant for humans can kill a dog or cat.
Most veterinarians recommend from 5 mg to 10 mg per pound of the dog's weight during a 12 hour period. (That is about 10-20 mg per kg weight). Going on the safe side, a recommended dosage of aspirin of about 5 mg/lb (10 mg/kg) seems to work well for most dogs.
If you are going to give more, it is a good idea to check with your vet. Also, note that a small dog should take less per pound.
Enteric coated aspirin is not recommended in dogs because about half the time the coating isn't digested and the aspirin is excreted whole in the stool.
It is better to start off small and work your way up to the maximum. If the dog has relief with a smaller dosage, that is great.
A standard aspirin is 320 mg. A baby aspirin is typically 80 mg. That means that 5 mg/lb works out to be one baby aspirin per 16 pounds of body weight twice a day.
The following chart can be used as a guide. Note that this is not medical advice.
|Weight of dog in pounds (or kilograms)||Number of tablets each 12 hours||mg|
|8 lbs (3.6 kg)||1/2 baby aspirin or less||40 mg|
|16 lbs (7.2 kg)||1 baby aspirin||80 mg|
|32 lbs (14.4 kg)||1/2 adult or 2 baby||160 mg|
|48 lbs (21.6 kg)||3/4 adult or 3 baby||240 mg|
|64 lbs (28.8 kg)||1 adult or 4 baby||320 mg|
|80 lbs (36 kg)||1 1/4 adult or 5 baby||400 mg|
|96 lbs (43.2 kg)||1 1/2 adult or 6 baby||480 mg|
The proper dosage of aspirin can give your dog relief from pain and inflammation. You should be aware of possible problems and know the proper dosage. It is good to check with a vet before giving any medication. Remember that dogs are not humans and don't need an aspirin for minor pains.
Tender, loving care is reciprocated
Resources and references
Veterinary Information for Dog Owners - Giving aspirin to dogs
Veterinary Questions and Answers - Can you give a dog or cat aspirin?
Aspirin: The Most Common Poisoner of Dogs - Caution when dosage is too high for dog - From VetInfo4Dogs
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