You can give your dog small amounts of aspirin. Vets might prescribe aspirin for all kinds of pain-related reasons. However, should you give your dog aspirin? There are risks of every medication, but also risks of leaving pain untreated. Here’s what you should consider before you talk to your veterinarian.

Benefits of Aspirin for Dogs

Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. That means it reduces pain by lowering the inflammation near the pain. You might know aspirin by its generic name: acetylsalicylic acid. Aspirin reduces pain best when that pain is caused by inflammation. Anything from arthritis to a pulled muscle might feel better when your dog has aspirin.

Risks of Aspirin in Dogs

No medication that you give a pet (or a human) is without risk. They may all have side effects and negative consequences, particularly if you use them improperly. The risks of aspirin for dogs are similar to the risks for humans, including:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver damage

Aspirin wasn’t designed for dogs, and it turns out that dogs are more likely to see serious effects from aspirin use than humans. Most vets will not prescribe aspirin for long-term pain management for that reason.

However, many will prescribe it at low levels for long-term use for dog arthritis or for very short-term problems. If you are giving your dog aspirin for a short-term problem, you may need to switch to another pain management medication if the problem continues or flares back up.

Dog Aspirin Overdose

Giving your dog aspirin may run the risk of overdose. You should not give your dog a human-sized dose of aspirin, even if you have a very large dog. Always go to a vet and have them explain exactly how much aspirin your dog should have, based on his or her weight.

Also, it’s wise to be familiar with the signs that your dog may have aspirin poisoning. Those include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weak pulse
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Abnormal breathing

If you notice these symptoms, you should call your vet right away!

Pain Management for Dogs

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there about pain management for dogs. Some sites promote home remedies, like turmeric, that won’t really help reduce your dog’s pain. Other sites exaggerate the risks for medications that vets approve of (in the right circumstances) to promote their alternatives. Consider, for example, that there is almost no research that indicates CBD will help dogs with pain. What research there is was funded by a CBD company.

Dogs can’t tell us how they feel. We can only infer their pain from their behavior. That’s why it’s important to work with a vet to be sure that you’re managing your dog’s pain properly and that they are not suffering. We always have to weigh the risks of a pain medication against the possibility that our dogs are in pain.

Talk to Your Vet

In the end, your veterinarian can help you decide if your dog needs aspirin and, importantly, at what dose.