Can dogs be given aspirin?

Aspirin is one of the commonest drugs in use today, and it is widely used by people for pain and inflammation because it reduces inflammation and fever and soothes the pain. It is commonly regarded as harmless if taken at the recommended dosage. But is it safe to give aspirin to your pet dog?

Just like humans, dogs develop painful conditions such as arthritis and joint pain as they age, and young dogs can have painful injuries or other conditions. These problems CAN be treated with aspirin, but aspirin must be used with caution. It is no longer recommended by many vets because of the side effects, and because newer and more effective drugs are now available. Please talk to your vet before taking your dog’s health into your own hands.

NEVER GIVE ASPIRIN TO PUPPIES (OR CATS) because they lack the enzyme needed to process aspirin.

Aspirin can be given to most dogs for short term pain relief provided the dosage is correct. It should not be given unless there is a serious condition, and it should not be used for extended periods because the side effects of long-term use can be serious. Just because aspirin is a common drug does not mean it is not dangerous, and even a single baby aspirin can be extremely toxic to a very small dog.

The dosage recommended for a dog depends on its size. Aspirin is toxic at 30 mg per lb (less for small dogs), which means that an adult aspirin (320 mg) would be toxic to a 10 lb dog. The recommended dosage is 5-10 mg per lb of dog (slightly less for small dogs) given with food no more than twice a day. Start at the lowest dose and increase only if necessary. So, for example, for a 32 lb dog, the recommended dosage is half an adult aspirin (or 2 baby (80 mg) aspirin) every 12 hours, giving a dose of 5 mg per lb.

The best way to divide a tablet is to crush it up and divide the powder (or open a capsule and divide the contents). The powder can then be mixed with food.

The effects of aspirin overdose and the side effects of poorly tolerated aspirin use and for long term use are the same in dogs as in people. Symptoms include stomach upsets, poor appetite, lethargy, ulcers, vomiting (sometimes with blood), breathing difficulties, bleeding, black stools, and kidney failure.

If ANY of these side effects occur, stop giving aspirin immediately and see your veterinarian for advice on alternative veterinary drugs especially developed for dogs.

DO NOT GIVE enteric-coated aspirin to dogs to avoid the stomach upsets because

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