Aspirin is an over the counter non steroidal anti inflammatory drug. It is also commonly known as acetylsalicylic acid.
It is an off label drug in veterinary medicine. Aspirin in dogs is prescribed by veterinarians in special circumstances such as pain relief in chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis or in cases of stroke. It is also indicated in reducing inflammatory processes such as swelling, fever etc.
Aspirin works by reducing the production of enzymes known as cyclooxygenases which produce hormones known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins act as mediators of pain. Reduced production of prostaglandins, therefore, leads to pain relief.
Prostaglandins also stimulate production of mucus that lines the gastrointestinal tract protecting it from the corrosive effects of stomach acid. They also make sure there is adequate blood supply to the kidneys as well as ensure good blood clotting.
Dogs are affected by various conditions that may cause mild to moderate pain. Chronic inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and stroke are also quite common. Aspirin for dogs in such situations is prescribed by veterinarians at a specific dose.
Long term use of any NSAID can have serious adverse effects. Pet owners should always follow instructions from their veterinarian keenly to avoid this.
What is Aspirin?
Aspirin is a non steroidal anti inflammatory drug. It is also known as acetylsalicylic acid. It falls in the same category with similar drugs such as meloxicam (metacam), carprofen, derocoxib, firocoxib among others.
It is popularly used in human medicine and as an off label drug in veterinary medicine.
It works by reducing the production of enzymes known as prostaglandins which are involved in mediating pain, mucus production in the gastrointestinal tract, clotting of blood and blood perfusion to various organs in the body.
It is used to relieve mild to moderate pain e.g. soft tissue injuries (tendinitis). It can also be prescribed in management of chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
What can aspirin be used for in dogs?
Aspirin is an off label drug in veterinary medicine.
It is usually prescribed by veterinarians in special situations as this drug is effective in treating some conditions compared to other NSAIDs.
Chronic inflammatory conditions such as joint degenerative diseases can be managed using aspirin. These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, soft tissue injuries e.g. tendinitis, bursitis, etc.
Aspirin also inhibits the coagulation of blood through its effect on blood cells known as platelets. This makes it a choice drug in cases of stroke in dogs.
Side effects of aspirin
Aspirin should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian at a recommended dose. Failure to adhere leads to adverse side effects.
Any adverse side effects observed are usually dose related, either as an overdose or through long term use. Effects of the drugs result from decreased prostaglandin concentration in the body.
Common side effects include:
Gastrointestinal effects: These include gastric ulcers, gastric bleeding, nausea, and vomiting. Apart from mediating pain and inflammation, prostaglandins help in the production of the mucus lining found in the stomach. This helps prevent corrosion of the stomach lining by hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach. Lowered levels of prostaglandins expose the stomach lining leading for formation of stomach ulcers, bleeding, vomiting and nausea. This is usually indicated by dark tarry stools and abdominal pain.
Kidney failure: Reduced prostaglandin production in the body causes a decrease in blood flow to various organs in the body. This can lead organ failure in vital organs such as the kidneys due to lack of nutrients and oxygen.
Liver toxicity: Aspirin is metabolized in the liver. High aspirin blood levels can lead to injury.
Dog aspirin dosage
Before giving a prescription, veterinarians usually take into consideration various factors. These include:
Age of the dog
Weight of the dog
Condition being treated
Any concurrent medication: Some drugs may interact and lead to fatal side effects.
If the dog is allergic to aspirin
Dogs with kidney failure or Von Willebrand’s disease should not be prescribed aspirin. This is because aspirin is excreted through the kidneys and prevent adequate blood circulation to the kidneys which may worsen the condition. It also impairs blood clotting which may be detrimental to dogs suffering from Von Willebrand’s disease.
It is also safer to administer coated aspirin pills as they are gentler on the stomach and can be given with food.
The recommended dose is 5mg to 10 mg per pound given twice daily.
Supplements: These include omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, glucosamine and chondrotin which can help in cases of degenerative joint diseases such as arthritis. They contain powerful anti inflammatory properties which can help relieve pain as well as improve joint health.
CBD oil also works as a great pain reliever with no psychoactive effects.
Aspirin is a non steroidal anti inflammatory drug that is popularly prescribed for treating mild to moderate pain in acute cases as well as degenerative joint diseases such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. It is also administered in dogs with stroke due to its blood thinning properties.
Aspirin works by inhibiting the production of cyclooxygenases which are responsible for the production of prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins help in mediation of inflammatory processes which cause swelling, redness and pain. A reduction in blood concentration therefore helps to relieve signs of inflammation. It also reduces platelet function.
As much as it can be bought without a prescription, aspirin should be used under the guidance of a veterinarian. The recommended dose is 5-10mg/pound given twice daily.
Aspirin is a fairly safe drug, although chronic use or an overdose can lead to adverse side effects. These mostly affect the gastrointestinal tract due to reduced mucus lining the stomach. These include ulcers, gastric bleeding, vomiting and nausea. It can also lead to kidney failure and liver toxicity.
Natural home remedies can be used in place of aspirin especially in chronic inflammatory conditions. Joint supplements such as omega fatty acids and CBD oil are great pain relievers and have strong anti-inflammatory properties.