Whenever you find your dog hobbling, such as after a game of fetch or following cast removal, it can be caused by factors such as pain or conditioned behavior.
At times like these, a concerned pet parent may wonder, “Can I give my dog aspirin for a limp?”
As you may already know, aspirin is an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) that is commonly used as a pain reliever to counter pain in the short term.
Providing aspirin to your pup as a temporary way to treat pain can be an appropriate option in this situation- though it is always best to consult your vet first before giving your dog anything out of your medicine cabinet.
Generally, aspirin can be safe for dogs when given in carefully measured doses. It is usually recommended to be administered at dosages of 5-10mg per pound of body weight every 8 hours. Buffered aspirin is the safest and most effective version for a dog.
When administering aspirin to a dog, it is extremely important that you provide the appropriate dose, as there can be dire consequences from both overdosing as well as long-term use.
Depending on the cause of the limp, there may be alternative, more suitable methods of pain relief that may be able to both reduce discomfort as well as speed up recovery.
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Acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin, is a Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which provides temporary relief for pain and inflammation. Aspirin also acts as an anticoagulant, which means that it prevents blood from clotting.
The active ingredient in aspirin is salicylate, which has the effect of inhibiting production of the hormone prostaglandin. This is crucial as prostaglandin is a key figure in the processes of inflammation, pain and fever.
Although aspirin is made for human consumption, it can be given to your adult pet in small doses for pain management due to its ability to be absorbed and spread efficiently.
However, remember to always consult with your vet before providing any aspirin as it may not be necessary or appropriate in certain situations.
For example, aspirin should not be given to younger dogs, pregnant or nursing dogs, or dogs with kidney or liver problems. As aspirin is an anticoagulant, it should also not be provided to dogs that have just had or are about to undergo surgery.
Additionally, aspirin should not be given with other medications such as corticosteroids, furosemide and other NSAIDs.
While small doses of aspirin given once in a while shouldn’t lead to any issues, care must be taken when giving any higher doses of the medication.
A general rule of thumb is 5 to 10 milligrams per pound of bodyweight for every 8 hours. However, it would be a good idea to start off in lower doses first and assess how your dog reacts.
The exact amount will depend on the size, weight, and sensitivity of your dog to the drug. Rely on your vet’s advice in order to avoid overdose.
Aspirin toxicity in dogs may occur when an amount equal to roughly 30 milligrams of aspirin per pound of bodyweight is consumed in less than 12 hours.
Symptoms of aspirin overdose may include:
- Digestive problems
- Stomach pain
- Blood in stool, urine or vomit
To keep your dog safe when giving aspirin, carefully monitor for changes in their behavior, activity level, and the state and frequency of elimination.
Aspirin poisoning can occur relatively easily, and can result in serious problems such as internal bleeding, blood clotting issues, stomach ulcers, and seizures. It takes four times longer for aspirin to be removed from a canine’s body as opposed to humans.
While there is no exact number for the length of time that you can give your dog aspirin, there are certain risks to be aware of that can arise from long-term, continuous use of the medicine.
Side effects of long term use may include:
- Stomach ulcers
- Kidney failure
- Deterioration of joint cartilage
Aspirin should not be given to your dog for multiple days or weeks consecutively, unless advised to do so by your vet.
There are three main types of aspirin:
- Plain or Uncoated
Plain aspirin is more likely to irritate your dog’s stomach lining and cause GI issues as there is nothing to slow down absorption.
Enteric-coated aspirin (such as Bayer Low Dose Aspirin) is not processed by dogs in a similar way to normal aspirin. The outer coating may not break down properly and as a result is likely to be less effective for treating pain and inflammation.
Buffered aspirin is usually the best option to prevent or lessen any stomach discomfort that your dog may experience. This is because buffered aspirin contains antacids which reduce stomach acid and prevents heartburn that may otherwise occur.
For all types of aspirin, you can still safely follow the guideline of 5 to 10 milligrams of Aspirin per pound of bodyweight for every 8 hours, though asking your vet for the correct dosage for the specific product would no doubt be the best course of action.
Alternatives to Aspirin for Your Dog’s Limp
While aspirin can provide temporary, effective relief when used correctly, there are a variety of other pain medications that can also be helpful such as Carprofen and Meloxicam. These are usually prescription-only and can be provided after a consultation with your vet.
Carprofen: A NSAID which acts in the same way as Aspirin and helps with canine osteoarthritis. Commonly sold as Novox, Vetprofen and Rimadyl.
Meloxicam: Another NSAID which relieves inflammation and pain caused by osteoarthritis. Sold as Vivlodex and Mobic, amongst many others.
If your dog’s limp is caused by factors such as joint pain or inflammation, there may also be natural solutions that are both potent as well as less risky.
In response to the question, “Can I give my dog aspirin for a limp?”, the answer is not as straightforward as it may seem.
Although aspirin can be given to a dog for a limp, it would be best to consult your vet first before administering any medication. A qualified professional will be able to determine whether aspirin is appropriate for the situation, and will also be able to advise on the correct dosage.
Aspirin should only ever be provided temporarily for mature dogs, as there are long-term consequences that can result from continuous use or overdose. Symptoms of aspirin poisoning can include stomach issues, diarrhea, vomiting, and blood in stool.
In serious cases, aspirin overdose can cause internal bleeding, seizures, and even kidney failure.
Buffered aspirin is the safest and most effective version for dogs in case you do choose to use it on your pet. Otherwise, there may be other options available to help a dog with their limp such as Carprofen, Meloxicam, and even natural pain relief supplements.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.