Can I give my dog aspirin? That might be the first thing you ask yourself when she’s in pain. But, before you reach into the medicine cabinet and grab a “human” pain reliever, you must understand that what’s good for you might not be for your best friend.
What is aspirin?
Aspirin is an NSAID, a non steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug. Aspirin is in the same category as Ibuprofen, Naxproxen, Carprofen and other NSAIDS.
These treat pain, inflammation and fever. Aspirin, is an anti-coagulant and prevents blood from clotting. It also blocks your dog’s body from producing prostaglandins which are the source of pain and inflammation. In general, aspirin has fewer side effects than steroids. Still, its side effects can be serious or fatal for your dog.
Side effects and drawbacks of aspirin
As mentioned, aspirin keeps the body from producing prostaglandins. However, these play a major role in the health of your dog’s body, including maintaining adequate blood flow to the kidneys and producing a layer of mucus that protects the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract from stomach acid and normal blood clotting.
When these functions are compromised, your dog can develop vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal problems, bleeding, kidney failure, liver failure and loss of appetite.
Keep in mind that even if a correct dose of aspirin is given, there are some dogs who are especially sensitive to it and may show side effects. You also must consider the risk of using aspirin in conjunction with other medications and in the presence of other health issues.
Aspirin should only be given with strict guidance from your veterinarian
Many factors are involved in the decision to give your dog aspirin so always make sure to talk with your veterinarian. Some important points to discuss are:
- Underlying medical conditions
- Other medications taken
Once these items have been addressed, only then should you proceed with carefully monitored aspirin therapy. However, it may turn out that aspirin, even in small doses, is not appropriate for your dog.
Drug companies have developed specific pain medications for dogs that are safer and more effective than “human” medications such as aspirin. These include Gabapentin, Tramadol, Carpofen and Meloxicam.
Gabapentin treats pain from damaged nerves. It may cause sleepiness in your dog for the first few days but this usually goes away. Sometimes your vet will prescribe this along with other drugs.
Tramadol is a painkiller that works like mild opioid medications. Sometimes a vet will give this to aging dogs who experience discomfort. There are side effects such as upset stomach, vomiting and dizziness.
As mentioned above, Carpofen is an anti-inflammatory that belongs to the NSAID category. This is used by veterinarians for treating minor pain in dogs. They will commonly prescribe this for conditions like arthritis. Sometimes it is used for postoperative pain. Carpofen can cause mild side effects such as stomach upset and diarrhea. In severe cases, there may be bleeding,stomach ulcers, liver and urinary tract problems.
Meloxicam (Metacam) is another NSAID used for inflammation, stiffness and musculoskeletal system pain such as osteoarthritis. There are many side effects associated with this drug. These include tarry black stools, diarrhea, vomiting, ulcers, weight gain, appetite loss, weakness dizziness, loss of kidney function and skin irritation
As you can see, there are other pain relievers that may be more appropriate for your dog. Aspirin, and for that matter, all pain killers, should only be given under the strict guidance of your veterinarian.
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