Aspirin for dogs: Dosage, Risks, and Benefits

Written by Dana Mayor
Updated: November 3, 2022
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Key Points

  • Aspirin can be used by dogs. However, because their physiology is different from a human’s, it is best to obtain the precise dosage from your vet.
  • Aspirin for dogs is also available and is the best option for them. That said, relying on the drug may cause health complications for your pet.
  • It is possible to use natural remedies such as devil’s claw, turmeric, or CBD oil to provide pain relief.

It is hard to watch your dog shake and flatten its ears because of pain. You will want to help, and since aspirin works instantly for your migraines, it might be the first thing you might think of giving your canine friend. However, how safe is aspirin for dogs? While aspirin is probably your favorite painkiller, it might not be suitable for your canine friend. Get to know the dosage, risks, and benefits of giving your pet this drug.

What Is Aspirin?

Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) containing salicylate. This compound is found in willow trees and myrtle. Some people use these natural ingredients to treat pain.

Aspirin relieves pain, like stomach and headaches, and reduces fever and inflammation. It is also used as an anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting. The drug belongs to the same category as ibuprofen and carprofen.

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It is available over-the-counter, but you must get the correct dosage from a doctor. Although it is also used by animals like dogs, dog owners should get a prescription from the veterinarian. The vet will test your dog to know its problem and give the correct dosage.

You should avoid administering aspirin to your dog without a vet’s advice because it can adversely affect the pet. Canines have different bodies with different biological systems from humans, so some chemical components in the drugs might harm the animal.

aspirin pills
Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory and painkiller drug. Consult your vet before giving it to your dog.

©Shane Maritch/

Use of Aspirin for Dogs

Although dog owners should not give aspirin to their dogs, they can do so with the vet’s permission. Your vet will prescribe these tablets if your dog is diagnosed with osteoarthritis or musculoskeletal inflammation.

The tablets have properties that reduce inflammation and relief pain. But ensure you follow the vet’s instructions on the dosage. Also, check for any side effects of the medicine and report to the vet immediately.

Some vets will suggest you buy aspirin for your vet at the chemist’s. Ensure you get a detailed prescription for the tablets. When purchasing over the counter, consider baby aspirin instead of the regular tablets in your medicine cabinet. Baby aspirin is a lower-dosage medication with lower chances of affecting your canine friend.

But, it is safer to use aspirin made for dogs. These have the right components that won’t harm your dog’s body. Also, the vets get the dog’s dosage depending on their body, age, and other factors.

Aspirin Dosage for Canines

Aspirin is not FDA-approved, so you must use it correctly according to the vet’s instructions. The vets give aspirin dosage for canines depending on the dog’s size and breed. Small dogs will require a small aspirin dosage while the big dogs take more.

While you trust your vet’s prescription, ensure you also keep checking for any side effects. Also, some dogs are sensitive to non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, and they will show an allergic-like effect.

Dogs weighing 0 to 5 pounds should take 25 to 50 milligrams of the drug. This is equivalent to half of the baby aspirin. The vets also consider the dog breed, as these amounts are suitable for Pomeranian and Chihuahua. Consult your vet for your dog’s correct dosage.

chihuahua in medical garb
25 to 50 milligrams of aspirin is suitable for a small dog like a Chihuahua. Consult your vet for dosages for larger breeds.

©Kelly Richardson Photo/

Aspirin Side Effects on Dogs

Aspirin causes side effects in dogs when poorly administered. You could also notice adverse effects even when following the prescription. Ensure you immediately stop giving the medication to your pet and contact the vet.

The doctor will determine the cause of side effects and advice. If you gave the wrong dosage and caused an overdose on your canine, you will see side effects like:

  • Ulceration: blood spots on your dog’s stool
  • Black and tarry stool
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Gastric erosion
  • Mucosal erosion
  • Hemorrhage
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizure
  • Comma
  • Death

Changes in appetite, urination, and activity level after administering new medicine to your canine friend should be alarming. These are primarily adverse effects of the medication and can cause death.

Risks of Aspirin on Dogs

Vets approve of using aspirin on dogs to relieve pain and musculoskeletal inflammation. But, prolonged usage of this drug on your canine can be risky. Some of the risks you are exposing your pet to by administering aspirin are:

1.      Causing Ulcers

A major side effect of aspirin in dogs is ulcers, and the sign is bloody stool. This is because the medicine suppresses the synthesis of prostaglandins that protect the dog’s stomach and intestinal wall. Lack of protection leads to wounds in the stomach, also called ulcers.

Once you notice any ulcers, contact the vet immediately. You should also stop administering aspirin to your dog and get an alternative drug.

2.      Delay Healing

Prostaglandins create pain, inflammation, and fever, which are good signs that the dog is healing. But, some dog owners want to relieve their pet’s pain, so they get aspirin for faster results. These tablets inhibit prostaglandins, delaying the dog’s healing.

Also, treating your dog’s joint pain with aspirin and other NSAIDS could have a worse effect on your pet. These drugs cause cartilage breakdown, leading to arthritis. So, avoid treating a dog’s joint problem with aspirin.

3.      Kidney Problems

Inhibition of prostaglandins reduces blood flow to vital organs like the kidneys. This group of lipids helps the blood to reach these organs. Thus, the insufficient blood supply to the kidneys could reduce their functioning.

4.      Bleeding

Aspirin is a blood thinner that could cause continuous bleeding to your dog in case of an injury. Also, dogs that have undergone surgery should not use this medicine because it delays healing and could cause more bleeding.

Another worse effect of aspirin on dogs is internal bleeding. This condition is hard to notice and can quickly lead to death. Hemorrhagic stroke in dogs is also the effect of aspirin.

If your pet suffers from Canine von Willebrand Disease (i.e., a condition in which the von Willebrand factor protein is present in reduced quantities or absent), you should avoid giving them aspirin (or drugs such as heparin or sulfa-type antibiotics). This is due to the fact that these drugs interfere with the clotting process.

Breeds commonly affected include:

Type 1 variant: Akitas, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, Poodles.

Type 2 variant: German Shorthaired Pointers, German Wirehaired Pointers.

Type 3 variant: Cocker Spaniels, Labradors, Pomeranians, Retrievers.

5.      Liver Damage

Aspirin leads to liver failure in dogs. The liver is the largest organ, and its primary role is detoxification. Since the drug has many toxins, the liver could overwork, weaken, and fail. Also, the medicine causes other problems like hepatitis.

6.      Cancer

Giving your pet aspirin increases its chances of getting cancer. Too much aspirin can lead to aspirin toxicity, which shows as a sign of aspirin poisoning. With time, your dog could be diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer, which can be fatal.

To avoid cancer and other aspirin cases, follow the vet’s instructions and avoid using the medicine for a long time. Also, you can find other alternatives to aspirin.

Aspirin Alternatives

Since aspirin exposes your dog friend to more dangers, you can use other pain relievers. But, although these medicines seem safer, make sure you consult with your vet first before giving them to your dog. Some of the alternatives are:

1.      Devil’s Claw

Most anti-inflammatory and healing elements in drugs are harvested from plants. They are then taken to the medicine factory for processing. These herbs are mixed with other chemicals that could cause adverse effects on bodies.

Devil’s Claw is an example of an anti-inflammatory herb, meaning that it can relieve pain and treat arthritis. Since the herb is natural, it is less likely to cause other effects on the dog. It doesn’t contain chemicals to inhibit prostaglandins that reduce blood flow to the kidneys.

Ensure you contact your vet before administering Devil’s Claw to your dog. The herbs are also unsuitable for pregnant and lactating dogs and can negatively affect diabetic canines. They could also react with other medicines and cause adverse effects.

2.      CBD Oil

CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol, is derived from an active cannabinoid in marijuana known for alleviating pain. It can treat stomach and headaches, muscle aches, and joint pains. Full-spectrum CBD does not have aspirin’s side effects and is a natural anti-inflammatory.

Although CBD oil is safe, ensure you consult your vet first. The vet will use the dog’s age, size, and weight to determine the correct CBD oil dosage. The vet will also check for any underlying condition before prescribing this drug to your canine.

3.      Turmeric

Turmeric has an active ingredient called Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-oxidant. Curcumin can also treat fungal and bacterial infections. Turmeric lowers inflammation and alleviates pain, and it also treats arthritis.

Curcumin powder and capsules are sold in health stores but ensure you consult your vet on the dog’s dosage. Another way to administer it to the canine is by buying the root from a grocery store. Then, grate some and mix with your dog’s food.

4.      Cayenne

Cayenne is a compound from hot chili, which has a pain-relieving effect on tissues and joints. It is available in the form of ointments and creams. Dog owners apply these gently on the hurting parts of the dog to reduce inflammation.

You can also buy the capsule form of cayenne to cure internal pain. Some dog owners prefer opening the capsule and adding the powder to the dog’s food.

devil's claw

Devil’s Claw is an herb with anti-inflammatory properties. It could be an alternative to aspirin for your pained pooch.


Aspirin is a good pain reliever for humans but administering them without consulting a vet might have adverse effects on dogs. So before using the medication, ensure you get the correct dosage from the vet and check for any signs of side effects. Also, you can use alternative drugs to aspirin for dogs, like CBD oil and Turmeric that won’t cause adverse side effects on your canine friend.

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About the Author

I love good books and the occasional cartoon. I am also endlessly intrigued with the beauty of nature and find hummingbirds, puppies, and marine wildlife to be the most magical creatures of all.

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