Is aspirin safe to give pets for their pain? That’s the question a reader had for me. The short answer is no; here’s why.
Q: Is it OK to give my pet aspirin if he’s feeling sore or stiff?
A: I don’t recommend it. In an acute pain situation, a veterinarian may prescribe aspirin for a dog, or you may know someone whose dog or cat is taking aspirin, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea for your pet.
For an explanation of aspirin’s risks, as well as when it might be used, I turned to Tina Wismer, DVM, a veterinary toxicology specialist and medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
She says aspirin can be problematic in pets who are on medications that could interact with the aspirin and increase the risk of side effects.
“Long-term, we like to go with medications that are a little safer and that tend to have fewer side effects,” Dr. Wismer says.
Vomiting is the most common side effect of aspirin seen in dogs. Stomach ulcers are a potential but less common side effect. Dogs who break into a bottle of aspirin and swallow a lot of tablets run the risk of liver failure and seizures.
Cats are more sensitive to aspirin than dogs because they don’t metabolize it as quickly, but it does have at least one beneficial use for them.
“In cats, the most common use for aspirin is actually heart problems, and veterinarians prescribe aspirin for its anti-platelet effect — basically, so your cat doesn’t get blood clots,” Dr. Wismer says. “But the dosing in cats is very different, and they only get a dose every couple of days.”
Any time you want to give your pet an aspirin, check with your veterinarian first for two reasons: to make sure you’re giving the correct dose and to make sure it’s indicated for what’s ailing your pet.
Read more, including about a pet dental dilemma, in this week’s Pet Connection!