Can You Give Dogs Aspirin? What Are the Risks?

Written by Kristin Hitchcock
Published: February 2, 2023
Share on:


In some cases, over-the-counter medications are safe for humans and animals. Asprin falls into this category. It is safe for dogs and performs about the same function in canines as humans. Sometimes, aspirin is even recommended by veterinarians for specific health conditions.

However, that doesn’t mean you can pull aspirin out of your medicine cabinet and give it to your dog. Most human aspirin is much too strong and leads to overdosing in canines. There are also many situations where this medicine would not be safe.

We highly recommend speaking to your vet before giving your dog aspirin or other medication. If your dog needs aspirin, you’ll need the correct dosage. Dogs needing this medication will likely also have an underlying issue that requires veterinary attention.

You should be extra cautious if your dog has any underlying condition or is on any other medication.

Dog Aspirin vs. Human Aspirin

Aspirin made for dogs and humans is the same; concentration is the only difference. Aspirin sold for humans is often OK for dogs at the correct dosage. Because humans are much larger than dogs, you’ll usually need a small fraction of a single tablet. As you can guess, trying to get one-eighth of an aspirin tablet is practically impossible to do accurately. This is why veterinarians often prescribe pet-intended aspirin at a much lower concentration. Usually, this aspirin is cheaper than what you’d purchase for yourself.

Instead of a dog-intended aspirin, some vets may recommend baby aspirin. Human babies are tiny. And aspirin made for them is also at a much lower dosage. Often, this aspirin is appropriate for dogs.

Aspirin is typically used as an anti-inflammatory, pain control, fever-reducing, and anti-clotting medication in people and pets. However, none of these purposes are technically “approved” by the manufacturer or any governing body. Therefore, using aspirin to treat dogs is “off-label.”

For this reason, the directions given by your vet will be much different than what is on the bottle of medication. Be sure to carefully write down the vet’s instructions, and don’t hesitate to call back and ask questions.

Off-label usage is quite common in the veterinary field. Human medicine improves faster than pet medicine, so it isn’t odd for vets to draw from human medications.

How Can I Give My Dog Aspirin?

Typically, aspirin is given as a tablet. You’ll need to provide it with food, which may cause stomach upset. It takes up to two hours for this medication to work. However, the effects aren’t always noticeable.

If your dog is in pain, you may notice a decrease in signs of discomfort. When giving it for reasons like anti-clotting, though, it is tough for pet owners to tell the difference. Sometimes, the vet recommends follow-up testing to ensure the new medication is working.

Whether you notice a difference or not, never stop giving the medication unless directed to by your vet. Call your vet if you think you should see more of a difference. Sometimes, more vital pain medication is required. Your pet should never be in unnecessary pain and cannot ask for more pain medicine.

Depending on the dog, getting your dog to take aspirin may be very easy or complicated. Some dogs eat just about everything, so getting them to scarf down a tablet is pretty straightforward. Other dogs are picky and may turn their nose up. You can stuff the tablet into a piece of food. Commercial “pill pockets” are available, but you can use whatever you have lying around that is safe for your dog.

Cheese is commonly used. It is easy to mush around the tablet and most dogs like it. You can also shove the pill into a piece of plain chicken. Choose whatever your dog finds tasty and put the pill inside.

Always watch your dog eat the food and keep an eye on them for a few minutes afterward. Dogs are smart. Some may eat the food around the tablet and spit the medicine out. Sometimes, they may even wait a few minutes to spit out the pill. You want to ensure that the dog consumes the tablet — not just the treat.

aspirin pills

The most common side effects of aspirin are stomach issues, such as decreased appetite, vomiting, and nausea.

©Shane Maritch/

Does Aspirin for Dogs Have Side Effects?

All medication has at least some side effects, and aspirin is no different. The most common side effects are stomach issues, such as decreased appetite, vomiting, and nausea. This occurs while the tablet is being digested, so these side effects often happen shortly after giving your dog the medication.

Feeding your dog before giving medication can prevent this issue, which is why it is often recommended. Sometimes, dogs may experience more severe GI side effects. For instance, bleeding from the GI tract can occur in at-risk dogs. Bleeding can lead to black and tarry stools. Sometimes, you may even notice actual blood in the stools. Luckily, this bleeding isn’t often severe. Most dogs don’t experience extreme bleeding; it usually clears up in only a few hours.

Still, severe bleeding can occur, leading to anemia and similar issues. Therefore, you should call your vet if you notice any tarry stool or similar signs. Your veterinarian can help ensure that the bleeding is temporary and not severe.

Risks of Aspirin for Dogs

There are some risk factors for taking aspirin. Some pets are allergic to aspirin, and these dogs should not take this medication. Dogs with underlying bleeding problems also shouldn’t take aspirin. For instance, canines with bleeding disorders, asthma, or kidney failure should not take aspirin.

Furthermore, aspirin use before surgery isn’t recommended. As you’d guess, aspirin can cause extra bleeding issues during surgery. Most vets recommend not using aspirin at least a week before surgery. If your dog needs surgery and aspirin, then your vet will have to help you weigh the pros and cons of stopping the aspirin.

Aspirin can be dangerous for young and very old pets and shouldn’t be used for newborn pets. Aspirin also shouldn’t be utilized in most pregnant animals.

How Much Aspirin Can I Give a Dog?

Your veterinarian should give the dosage of aspirin. There isn’t an easy one-size-fits-all dosage. It can vary widely depending on the usage of the medication. There are a lot of different uses for aspirin, and different dosages are utilized for other things.

Different types of aspirin also have different concentrations. Therefore, you may use half a baby aspirin for your dog, but an adult aspirin may be too concentrated. Dog-specific aspirin is often recommended, as it is concentrated in a way that makes it easier to dose dogs.

Can You Give Dog Asprin for Pain?

Aspirin can be used in dogs for pain. However, it would be best if you spoke to your veterinarian first. Aspirin can be dangerous to some dogs. Therefore, you shouldn’t just go into your medicine cabinet and give your dog aspirin.

There are a lot of instances where aspirin can be more harmful than good. Therefore, you shouldn’t give your canine any aspirin without the OK from your vet.

Final Thoughts

Aspirin can be given to dogs. However, it should only be given when under the direction of your vet. There are a lot of different side effects and uses of aspirin. It isn’t suitable for all dogs. It thins the blood and causes more bleeding. This means dogs with bleeding disorders or about to undergo surgery shouldn’t be given aspirin.

When prescribed, aspirin designed for humans can be given to dogs. However, human-grade medication is often too concentrated. Therefore, dog-specific medication or baby aspirin is usually recommended.

Listen closely to your vet’s instructions, as the instructions on the label may differ from what your vet recommends. Don’t stop giving your dog aspirin after being prescribed. The effects aren’t always apparent. Even if you don’t believe that the medication is doing anything, it could be. Veterinarians often recommend continued testing for this reason.

Up Next

The photo featured at the top of this post is © cunaplus/

Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?

How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.

What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?

Share on:
About the Author

Kristin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering dogs, cats, fish, and other pets. She has been an animal writer for seven years, writing for top publications on everything from chinchilla cancer to the rise of designer dogs. She currently lives in Tennessee with her cat, dogs, and two children. When she isn't writing about pets, she enjoys hiking and crocheting.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.