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Aspirin for Dogs: Usage, Dosing, Safety, and Alternatives

ElleVet Canine

For right or wrong, aspirin has been largely normalized in our society. Whether we have aches and pains, a headache, or inflammation, as humans, one of our first instincts is to reach for the bottle of Aspirin or Ibuprofen. Whether we are overusing these over-the-counter medications is a conversation for another day. 

Today, we will talk about aspirin for dogs. Does it work the same way for them? Is it safe? We will aim to answer these questions and more. 

Table of Contents

  1. Usage in Dogs
  2. Dosing
  3. Safety & Side Effects
  4. Natural Alternatives
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Usage in Dogs 

Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). Similar NSAIDs used in dogs and humans include ibuprofen and carprofen, among others. NSAIDs like aspirin are designed to address pain, inflammation, and fevers. 

Aspirin products will have to be prescribed by your veterinarian. Commonly, these painkillers are given to dogs to help combat joint pain associated with osteoarthritis and contain anti-inflammatory properties. It is not necessarily only prescribed for these reasons, but the grounds will be similar if not identical to the ones mentioned. The bottom line is that it is used to treat pain and inflammation, whatever the circumstances may be. 


To be frank, there are very few conclusive studies that have produced the “correct” aspirin doses for dogs. Veterinarians seem to recommend a dosage of 10-40mg/kg at a time, but these guidelines can be ambiguous and ever-changing based on the situation. Your veterinarian will determine a safe dose for your dog based on their size and weight and the severity of pain or inflammation your dog is currently dealing with. Your veterinarian will also go through any and all supplements and medications your dog is currently taking to ensure there is no risk of adverse reactions or drug interactions. 


Safety and Side Effects

This is where things can get a little complicated. When we think of Aspirin or NSAIDS similar to them, we think of the harmless little pills usually readily available in everyone’s medicine cabinets. We know not to take too many, of course, but other than that, we don’t really feel any danger when taking them. Like we mentioned earlier, it’s been normalized, causing us in some ways to be desensitized to the reality of it. 

With dogs, it is not this simple. There’s a reason most NSAIDs for dogs need to be prescribed and monitored by your veterinarian. The fact is, there are a lot more risks when it comes to aspirin and dogs. 

Some side effects in dogs can include: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Ulceration 
  • Irregular, discolored stool 

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, stop aspirin use and contact your veterinarian immediately. More serious side effects that may be caused by an aspirin overdose include: 

  • Hemorrhage 
  • Seizure 
  • Coma 
  • Death 

While these potential side effects are difficult to digest, it is not our aim to scare you off trying aspirin for your dog. But it is crucial to understand that these are not the harmless little pills they may be perceived as in the human world. The risks and side effects are very real for dogs. ALWAYS monitor your dog when starting a new medication, like an NSAID, and consult your veterinarian at every turn. We want our dogs feeling better, but not at the costs listed above. 



The ElleVet Team
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