Let’s face it, watching your pet suffer from pain is difficult, if not downright impossible. It can be tempting to give your dog pain medication from your medicine cabinet because you want so badly to give him some relief. However, this is an unwise idea.
You should always see your veterinarian before administering any kind of over-the-counter medications to your four-legged friend because dosages for humans and dosages for pets are wildly different.
And, like ibuprofen, aspirin is an NSAID with a narrow margin of error when it comes to correctly dosing an animal. If you give your dog too much of the drug, it can have nasty side effects, some of them serious and even life-threatening.
Is My Dog in Pain?
Dogs can be quite stoic animals, so it can be hard to tell when they are in pain and when they are not. The signs can vary widely depending on a dog’s age, on a dog’s environment, and on a dog’s individual personality. However, just because they do so quietly doesn’t mean they do not suffer from pain.
Some signs of pain in dogs are things like:
Heavy Panting and Breathing
Do you notice your dog seems to be sitting around breathing heavily, even though he hasn’t been doing anything to warrant it? Sometimes dogs will pant and take shallow breaths because they are in pain and it hurts to inhale.
It is a dog’s instinct to clean and minister to a sore spot or an injury. Even if the soreness stems from something internal as opposed to a cut or scrape, they will often still lick that area to “fix” whatever is bothering them.
Sometimes dogs will exhibit behavior changes when they are in pain. Maybe you have a dog that is normally very happy-go-lucky and outgoing, that is now acting withdrawn, shy, and is perhaps even hiding from you.
Or, maybe you’re normally friendly dog is now suddenly being snappy and showing aggression to other animals and people. When dogs are in pain, they may worry that you will hurt them if you get too close. To protect themselves, they might growl and get snippy if you do something that makes them anxious.
On the flip side, sometimes dogs that are typically shy or a bit of a loner may suddenly start behaving super needy, wanting affection, and wind up all but sitting in your lap 24/7.
Changes in Eating or Drinking Habits
Changes in Sleep Habits
Again, just like people, some dogs may sleep more to escape the pain. If you notice your dog appears to be napping more often or longer than normal, that could be an indicator something is wrong.
Often, dogs that are in pain will squint their eyes and appear “heavy-lidded”. This is a clear message to you that something is off and a trip to the vet is warranted.
Difficulty Getting Comfortable
Dogs that are in pain may exhibit difficulty with resting or getting comfortable. Especially with dogs that suffer from chronic pain, it’s hard for them to find just that right spot or position that allows them to relax without hurting.
Some dogs may become more vocal when they are in pain, especially if you touch a sore or tender spot. They may whine, bark, whimper, yelp, or growl. Some breeds may even howl to express that something is wrong and they are hurting.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to investigate further because your dog is probably suffering. You should see your vet to determine the source of the problem and figure out the best treatment options. Do not, under any circumstances, give your dog aspirin or any other pain medication (especially medications meant for humans) without the direction and supervision of your vet.
What is Aspirin?
Aspirin is a medication classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This type of drug is often called NSAID for short. NSAIDs encompass not just aspirin, but ibuprofen, naproxen, and other drugs as well. These types of medications are commonly used as a pain reliever and help reduce inflammation and fever. Aspirin is also considered a blood thinner, and is often given to humans for heart and circulation problems.
Drugs like aspirin for dogs are thought to have less side effects than steroids, but it still doesn’t make them ideal for long-term use. There are other drugs better suited for that. This means that aspirin may be effective for short-term pain relief, but it should not be used for long periods of time.
Aspirin that is given over the long-term (such as in dogs with arthritis) can worsen joint problems by destroying the cartilage. Aspirin can also worsen blood clotting disorders due to its blood thinning capabilities. Sometimes, aspirin can even cause internal bleeding.
What is Aspirin Used for in Dogs?
Typically, aspirin is prescribed for dogs that have experienced a non-serious injury that doesn’t require long-term pain management. Aspirin is intended for short-term pain relief only, and should not be given before, during, or after any major surgery.
Sometimes vets may prescribe aspirin to help relieve the inflammation associated with musculoskeletal inflammation and osteoarthritis in dogs.
Can dogs take aspirin? And when is it safe?
When Should a Dog NOT Be Given Aspirin? Though aspirin may be recommended and prescribed for some dogs, it is not an ideal treatment option for all dogs. Sometimes, dogs have conditions that can interact with aspirin and cause serious damage, and even death.
If you have a dog with any of the following health conditions, you should avoid giving him aspirin.