HEALTH & CARE

Aspirin for Dogs: How Much Aspirin is Safe for Your Dog?

Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

When it comes to our loved ones, we can’t see them in pain. The moment they are afflicted with some disease or pain, we opt for immediate medicinal relief. It’s easy enough to administer aspirin to relieve pain for humans, but when the one in pain is your dog, one question running circles in your mind might be: How much aspirin can I give my dog?

Not knowing the safest amount of human formulated aspirin dosage often leads to serious side effects for your pooch. Aspirin is a drug designated for humans after all. It can be a very effective painkiller for dogs also, but only if you know the right dosage. With a little care on your part, you can prevent your dog experiencing from additional health troubles.

Image showing a dog laying down in a house

Read our comprehensive pet care guide to learn more about the answer to the question ‘How much aspirin can you give a small dog?’ or even a big one. Not just this, we have also enlisted some great safety tips and precautions to take away the pain your furry friend is experiencing.

What is Aspirin and How Does It Work?

Just like several other NSAIDs (carprofen, ibuprofen, naproxen), aspirin too is a non-steroidal drug for pain (joint pain), fever and inflammation relief. Generally used on humans, dog owners often use it on their pets too. Prostaglandins are the natural compounds that cause pain, fever, and inflammation in the body. Aspirin is formulated to combat that synthesis of Prostaglandins to relieve the pain or other related issues effectively.

Is it OK to Use Aspirin on Dogs?

You would often find people objecting the use of aspirin for dogs. Formulated for human consumption, many believe aspirin to be fatal for dogs. Why so? It’s not that this particular OTC (over-the-counter) pain medicine is dangerous for dogs. The actual problem lies in the improper administration of the drug.

Image showing a dog laying down next to some pills

Using aspirin for dogs is absolutely safe, as long as you:

  • Administer the right dosage of aspirin (according to body weight)
  • Use it only as a short-term solution (five days maximum)
  • Use it only after consulting the vet

Once you’ve consulted with a trusty vet, you might even learn that vets recommend the use of aspirin over other OTC pain medications for dogs—such as steroids. Drugstores are filled with a number of steroids for curing pain and diseases in animals.

Image showing a dog and a vet

But vets prefer aspirin (NSAID) because unlike steroids, it is safer with fewer side effects. The most common side effects that pet owners complain about after using aspirin include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Blackish stool
  • Mucosal erosion
  • Bleeding (traces of blood in urine)
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • Intestinal ulcers (when given without food)

If you find any of the above-mentioned bad reactions, stop using the medicine immediately and consult your vet. But generally speaking, though the use of aspirin or other NSAIDs may also cause side effects in your pet, you can easily prevent those by administering the right dosage and following your vet’s instruction.

Image showing aspiring pills on a table

The aforementioned side effects will generally only occur when a pet owner tries to administer aspirin (or any other OTC painkiller) on his own, without consulting any vet. An overdose of aspirin may result in a number of alarming health conditions for your dog.

In short, it can cause damage to the whole internal system of your pooch. So, if you are going to cure your pooch with aspirin, just take a moment and ask the vet, ‘how much aspirin can I give my dog for pain?’ Once you get your answer, go ahead with it.

Different Types of Aspirin for Dogs

There are 2 different types of aspirin that you can give to your dog. Depending on its type, the optimum dosage may differ. Some also may cause unwanted side effects, so make sure you’re able to categorize which of the following types of aspirin the one you plan to give your dog belongs to:

Veterinary Formulas

Aspirin is available in veterinary formulas which are easier to handle. The instructions label pasted on them guides well about the usage. One option, buffered aspirin is specially formulated for keeping your pet’s stomach safe and to avoid the possible side effects of aspirin. These pills come with a safe coating of a substance that neutralizes the acidic properties of aspirin. It is known to cure temporary joint pain and inflammation in dogs. Vets recommend it for dogs of every breed and age.

Image showing aspiring pills on the grass

No doubt buffered aspirin is a safer option but before you administer it on your dog, you must ask your vet ‘how much buffered aspirin can I give my dog’. The most common and safest dosage of buffered aspirin that vets usually recommend is 5 to 10 mg per pound of a dog, with the gap of 8 to 12 hours maximum (varies with the brand).

Human Formulas

If you want to administer human formula aspirin, you would have to be more cautious. Baby aspirin is generally safe for dogs, but one option, the enteric coated aspirin, is not recommended for dogs. It is formulated for human use and has a coating on the tablet that is used to protect the human stomach from acids, which may cause irritation.

Image showing two pills in a person hand

The coating on the pill is not easily digestible for dogs (dogs have a weaker digestive system) and in most the cases dogs excrete the whole pill in their stool and do not get any relief. So, it is better not to use it on your pet.

How much Aspirin Can You Give a Medium to Large-Sized Dog?

Before you try these different aspirin options, you must know how much baby aspirin can you give a dog or what is the safest dosage of a regular strength aspirin for dogs. Read on to find the basic dosage rules:

  • Vets usually recommend 5 to 10 mg aspirin per pound of an adult dog’s weight. Ideally, you should start using from 10 mg of aspirin first. If it does not seem to be working, you can increase the dose to15 mg.
  • A standard aspirin of human formulation is 325 mg while baby aspirin is 81 mg. So, 1/8 of adult aspirin or half of a baby aspirin would be enough at a time.
  • You can give an entire tablet of baby aspirin to your dog weighing 18 to 22 pounds (twice a day).
  • Administer the right dosage of aspirin i.e. twice in a day with a gap of 12 hours. Dosages given close together may lead to something serious like organ damage.
  • To avoid side effects, use aspirin for five days maximum.
  • No matter how bad the condition is, you must never cross the limit of 30 mg of aspirin for your dog.
  • In case you missed a dose, give it without further ado. If the time of the next dose is close enough, skip the missed dose and continue with the next scheduled dose.
  • The dose can be changed according to the dog’s condition.

How much Aspirin Can You Give a Small Dog?

Rules differ for small dogs. With immature internal system (kidneys and livers), it is hard for them to metabolize a painkiller. A pup’s small body lacks the enzymes essentials for breaking down aspirin.

Image showing little Bulldog at the vet

So vets recommend low dose baby aspirin (about half of baby aspirin for a 10-pound puppy) per lb. for pups and for medium dogs. Even a large breed puppy should be given a lower dosage per pound in comparison to a grown up dog of the same weight.

Although, there is a school of thought that totally dismisses the idea of aspirin for puppies. Both negative and positive opinions are present with this one. You better consult your vet about giving aspirin to your puppy if you want to be absolutely sure.

How to Give Your Dog Aspirin

Feeding aspirin to your dog is yet another task. Following are the steps that can make it easy for your dog to swallow the tablet.

  • Place the tablet on your dog’s favorite food or simply wrap it inside a loaf of bread.
  • Place the tablet on the back of dog’s tongue. Pat the throat to motivate your pup to swallow it.
  • Digestible pill pockets can also come in handy for feeding medicines to the pets.
  • Grinding the tablet and mixing it with food is yet another easy idea. This method ensures no irritation in the stomach

Image showing a dog and a plate full of pills

There are also some things you’ll want to remember when you’re thinking about giving your dog aspirin:

  • Aspirin should be considered as a short-term solution. It must never be used for more than 5 days.
  • Pet owners must never use aspirin as a cure for ongoing joint problem or arthritis. One of its properties, named acetylsalicylic acid may prove harmful for dog’s cartilage when taken for a longer period of time.
  • Whatever brand you are using, do not forget to read the label for instructions. Beware of the extra active ingredient acetaminophen in aspirin’s formulation. It can be toxic for dogs.
  • Never let your dog consume aspirin on an empty stomach.
  • Once you have started the dose, it is imperative to keep a close watch on your dog’s symptoms and signs. Monitor the bowel movements, urination, as well as hunger and activity level.
  • Some species of dogs are sensitive to NSAID, formulated for humans. They must not be given it at any cost, or else your dog would face dangerous side effects. Even a safe amount of medicine can harm an allergic pooch.
  • If the dog does not get relief and doctor suggest surgery to resolve the issue, stop aspirin intake about a week earlier. Or else the dog might suffer severe bleeding issues (because of thin blood) during or after surgery.
  • Make certain that the human aspirin you are administering on your dog does not contain traces of caffeine. Caffeine is extremely dangerous for dogs.
  • Avoid combining aspirin with some other medication with acetylsalicylic acid.
  • Make sure your dog is not using any other NSAID or anti-inflammatory medicine along with aspirin. If he is, notify your vet about it. This is a must-do thing to avoid any possible drug reaction. The medications that are known to contradict with aspirin are—other NSAIDs, furosemide, phenobarbital, and corticosteroids.

When to Avoid the Use of Aspirin

Although aspirin is a generally safe painkilling solution for dogs, just as no two dogs are the exact same, there are certain conditions your dog suffers from that might turn aspirin into a dangerous thing for their health.

Australian Shepherd dog portrait on picnic table

The use of aspirin is not recommended for:

  • Dogs who already have some kidney or liver problems should not be given aspirin.
  • Aspirin usage is not recommended for nursing or pregnant dogs. It might delay the labor process.
  • Small puppies (less than 8 weeks old) should not be treated with aspirin.
  • Dogs with Von Willebrand’s Disease and asthma should never use aspirin.
  • Deficiency of vitamin K in your dog is a sign that they may not be able to handle the aspirin.
  • Dogs with osteoarthritis should not be treated with aspirin. It might cause damage to their joint cartilage.
  • Dogs with peptic (stomach) ulcers, internal bleeding, and blood clotting disorder should not be treated with aspirin. Aspirin thins the blood and stops clotting process, which might be dangerous for them.
  • Dogs who are on some other medication should not be given aspirin. If you still find it necessary, get your vet’s assistance.

How to Deal with Aspirin Poisoning?

If worse comes to worst and you suspect aspirin poisoning due to overdose, do not try to cure your pet at home. Take him to the nearest veterinarian’s office immediately. A dog has to undergo some medical procedures.

Image showing dog pain medications and a little dog

It is only after a detailed checkup that the vet comes to a conclusive diagnosis of the poisoning and its cure. Another dog ailment, pancreatitis, comes with similar poisoning symptoms. So, it is better to get it diagnosed by an expert, instead of landing on a conclusion on your own.

Wrap Up

As long as you are using it as a short-term cure, aspirin is a good solution to relieve your pup from pain and misery. All you need is to be aware of all the pros and cons of using aspirin.

We have tried our best to conclude each and every detail here, which will surely help you (and your pup of course). But at the same time, we recommend you to visit your vet before administering aspirin on your dog.

Image showing a cute dog getting rest

An improper amount of aspirin may cause toxicity in your pet. Body weight plays a key role in determining the dose. Only after you’ve consulted a veterinarian will you be able to surely determine the right amount of human aspirin for dogs.

Did you find our article informative? Have you ever used aspirin on your dog? What was your dog’s experience with it? Did he face any side effects? Minor or serious? We would really love to hear from you about it all. Do share your aspirin experience in the comment box below.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog’s designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.

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