Seeing your dog in pain is an overwhelming feeling. Our canine companions are the light of our lives, making it heartbreaking to watch them struggle. Because of this, many pet owners turn to over the counter pain relief in hopes of bringing them comfort. But is this a safe option for dogs?
In this article we’ll discuss the dangers of giving your dog aspirin, and introduce you to safe pain relief options for our furry friends.
Types of OTC Pain Relief
Before we discuss the use of aspirin in dogs, it’s important to be aware of the different types of over the counter pain relief. There are many people that use the term aspirin to describe multiple types of pain relief options, making it essential to really understand the details.
NSAIDS: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) target inflammation and pain in patients struggling with injury or illness. Aspirin itself is considered an NSAID, along with medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Common brands include Aleve, Motrin, Advil, and more.
Acetaminophen: Acetaminophen is an over the counter pain relief option that does not target inflammation, but can be used in relieving fevers and headaches. Acetaminophen is often found in cold and flu medications, and is most commonly known under the name Tylenol.
Many people use the term aspirin to describe all types of over the counter medication, but this is not always accurate. Now that you are aware of the differences between NSAIDS and acetaminophen, you can better protect your pup going forward.
So Can Dogs Have Aspirin?
Unfortunately, aspirin is not safe for use in dogs. This over the counter pain medication was made with humans in mind, and a dog’s metabolic process is very different from ours. A dog’s physiology is not able to metabolize aspirin as efficiently as humans are, making them extremely susceptible to toxic build up.
Aspirin can inhibit prostaglandin production in dogs, which plays a huge role in protecting the GI tract, ensuring the adequate clotting of blood, and promoting blood flow to the kidneys. When these prostaglandins are inhibited, this can cause a serious disturbance in these functions. This is what leads to aspirin toxicity in our furry friends, which varies in severity from dog to dog.
It makes it even more complicated that it can take days for signs of toxicosis to appear in dogs, meaning much of the damage has been done before a pet owner is aware of the problem. Even one small dose can cause serious complications for our canine friends.
The Dangers Of Aspirin For Dogs
So what can happen when you give a dog aspirin? Aspirin ingestion in dogs can lead to complications ranging from bleeding disorders to organ failure, making the list of potential dangers endless. To help you better understand why you should never offer your dog aspirin, let’s discuss the possible risks below.
The dangers of aspirin for dogs include:
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
- Bleeding disorders
- Kidney damage
- Kidney failure
- Liver damage
- Liver failure
- Gastrointestinal upset
Even a small dose of aspirin can cause a serious threat to your dog’s health. Due to the disruption of the protective lining in the GI tract, many dogs can experience severe GI symptoms and pain. The use of aspirin may begin to erode at the lining of the GI tract, cause GI bleeding, and may even stimulate a life threatening bleeding disorder.
Not only can aspirin cause serious damage to the intestinal lining, but it can also inhibit blood flow to the liver and kidneys. When aspirin ingestion is not addressed immediately, this can lead to irreversible damage to these vital organs.
Some of the most common symptoms of aspirin toxicity in dogs include:
- Vomiting (can contain blood)
- Diarrhea (can contain blood)
- Abdominal pain
- Pale gums
If your furry friend has consumed aspirin, we suggest contacting your veterinarian for further advice. If your dog is already experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to get your pup to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Can Vets Prescribe Aspirin To Dogs?
Many pet owners are confused about aspirin use in dogs due to the fact that some veterinarians prescribe it in rare situations. When directed by a veterinarian, some dogs will benefit from an extremely low dose of aspirin for short term use. This dose will need to be calculated for your dog’s weight range, and can only be done safely under the advisement of a professional. This should only be done under the care of your veterinarian.
The use of aspirin in the veterinary realm is becoming more and more rare. There are many safe pain relief options available to our furry friends, and most vets choose to take that route instead. The risks of aspirin use in dogs often outweigh any potential benefits.
Safe Pain Relief For Dogs
So how can you manage your dog’s pain in a safe way? Our dogs may experience discomfort at some point in their lives, and easing their pain is always our top priority. When looking for safe pain relief options that will help your furry friend, the best advice is to speak with your veterinarian. There are many dog approved pain medications available to our canine friends, and can easily be prescribed with the direction of a veterinary professional.
Some safe pain relief options outside of prescribed veterinary medications include:
- Joint supplements for dogs that struggle with joint pain or hip dysplasia
- Dietary supplementation such as omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and more
- Physical therapy
- And more
If you believe that your dog is struggling with pain of any kind, we suggest speaking with your vet for further advice. This is the best way to offer them the comfort they deserve.
Though aspirin may be helpful for use in humans, it is extremely dangerous for our furry friends. Be sure to review the information we discussed above, and you can better protect your pup going forward!