What is the Proper Aspirin Dosage for Dogs?

You probably have this popular headache medication in your medicine cabinet. But is it safe to give your dog, and if it is, how much can you give him?

When you have a headache, you probably reach into your medicine cabinet for a bottle of aspirin. Over-the-counter pain relievers like this are inexpensive to purchase, easy to find, and they work well for general pain relief.

When your dog is in pain, however, the solution may not be quite so easy. Keep reading to learn more about whether aspirin is safe for dogs and, if so, what the proper dosage is.

Is It Safe to Give Your Dog Aspirin?

Aspirin belongs to a class of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs. These medications are available over-the-counter in various forms such as controlled release tablets and immediate release tablets. Dosages vary as well, and there are various formulations to treat specific forms of pain. One of the primary uses for aspirin, however, is to treat pain and inflammation related to various forms of arthritis.

Veterinarians sometimes prescribe aspirin to dogs suffering from musculoskeletal inflammation or osteoarthritis. Aspirin works by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase which produces inflammatory prostaglandins. Unfortunately, in addition to inhibiting this enzyme, aspirin also acts as an anti-coagulant which prevents the blood from clotting. Though NSAIDs like aspirin have fewer side effects than steroidal medications, there are definitely risks. If you do give your dog aspirin, do so only with your veterinarian’s guidance and follow his dosing instructions carefully.

What’s the Proper Dosage for Dogs?

While aspirin is not approved by the FDA for use in dogs, some veterinarians do prescribe it. The recommended dosage is somewhere between 10mg and 40mg/kg, depending on your dog’s condition. You should also know that there are different kinds of aspirin out there and not all of them are safe for dogs. Enteric-coated tablets, for example, are designed to protect the lining of the intestines from irritation, but this coating can prevent your dog’s body from breaking down and absorbing the tablet.

Before giving your dog aspirin, make sure you tell your veterinarian about any other medications he may be taking. Aspirin can interact poorly with digoxin, certain antibiotics, anti-coagulants, corticosteroids, and various other drugs so it pays to be cautious. Even if you don’t think it is significant, tell your veterinarian everything so he has enough information to determine the level of risk that comes with giving your dog aspirin.

What Are the Potential Side Effects?

While it may technically be safe to give your dog aspirin, there are safer options – drugs that have been approved by the FDA for treating pain in dogs. If you do give your dog aspirin, be on the lookout for side effects because they can happen even if you administer the proper dosage. Potential side effects of taking aspirin may include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Ulcers
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hemorrhage
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Even if you use the right dosage, you should still monitor your dog closely after giving him aspirin to make sure he doesn’t have a negative reaction. If you notice any of the symptoms above, or if your dog just starts acting differently, take him to the vet immediately for treatment.

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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