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Can dogs be given aspirin safely?

Joellen
Iowa City IA

Yes and no.

Aspirin has been widely used as a pain killer in dogs. For many dogs it relieves pain associated with arthritis or minor injuries.

However, aspirin is in a class of medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Like all NSAIDs, aspirin has the potential to cause side effects that range from mild upset stomach to liver failure, kidney failure, and fatal gastrointestinal ulceration.

Also, aspirin is not a very powerful pain killer. Many people who administer aspirin to their dog are disappointed with the results.

That last issue is a serious problem, because aspirin cannot safely be combined with many other types of pain killers and medications (especially other NSAIDs and cortisone analogues). In practice I frequently see painful animals who have received aspirin at home. Because of the aspirin, the treatment options available to these animals are limited.

In short, I do not recommend home medicating with aspirin. If your pet is in pain, contact your veterinarian. Together you can develop a comprehensive and well-thought-out pain management protocol.

Note: aspirin also can be used in cats. Cats are subject to all of the same aspirin-related issues as dogs, and many more. Do not administer aspirin, or any drug, to your cat without talking to a vet first.

Photo: enough to decimate an army of cats, dogs, or humans. By Pll.