How Effective is Aspirin for Dog Arthritis?

When confronted with dog arthritis, aspirin can be effective. Canine arthritis is a disease that causes painful inflammation of the joints in dogs. The best medicine will not only decrease the inflammation and pain, but will also regenerate the damaged cartilage. However, only a veterinarian can determine the proper medication and the proper dosages.


Arthritis can afflict any type, size or gender of dog, though younger dogs are less susceptible to it.

Some of the symptoms of arthritis in dogs include:

  • Inflammation, stiffness, heat, swelling and/or pain in and around joints
  • Reluctance to play, walk or move up and down stairs
  • Change in gait or pace
  • Joint tenderness
  • Limping
  • Difficulty getting up, lying down, sitting, squatting, standing, jumping or climbing
  • Slow movement


Some dog owners prefer to use aspirin to treat dog arthritis, in order to avoid the side effects and risks that other prescription medications have. However, even aspirin needs to be used with caution and under the supervision of a veterinarian, since it's classified as a NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug). Dogs are sensitive to the gastrointestinal effects of NSAIDs, which may include ulceration, bleeding and pain. Coated aspirin helps with some of these side effects. Aspirin can usually be given 1 to 2 times a day with food.

Some over-the-counter medications can be toxic to dogs. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be fatal to dogs, due to the formation of ulcers. Monitor your dog after administering aspirin to see if there is any change in appetite in the following 24 hours. If there is, discontinue use immediately. Instead, use of Palaprin 6, a dog aspirin that does not causes stomach problems, may be better. Aspirin can cause birth defects when given to pregnant dogs. Aspirin also interacts with other medications including cortisones (digoxin) and antibiotics (Phenobarbital and Furosemide(Lasix®). Aspirin is only effective as a pain reliever and does not address inflammation.

Discontinue use immediately if any of the following signs develop:

  • Diarrhea
  • Black, tarry or bloody stools
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy
  • Red, itchy skin
  • Change in urinary habits
  • Change in appetite or thirst

Other Medications Are Needed

Medications containing chondroitin and glucosamine are needed in treating arthritis. Both are naturally produced by the body and are extremely important in forming and maintaining tendons, ligaments, nails and cartilage. These medications are supplemented with NSAIDs in order to reduce inflammation, including aspirin. However, careful monitoring is necessary to ensure there are no adverse reactions.


If NSAIDs are not working, a veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids, such as prednisone or dexamethasone. They can dramatically reduce pain, slow bone density loss, improve damaged cartilage and reduce joint inflammation, but they do have some serious risks, particularly if they are used for an extended period of time.

Since some of these risks are similar to ones that the use of aspirin poses, it is highly recommended NOT to use aspirin in conjunction with them. Such similar side effects include gastric ulcers and increased thirst. Even though aspirin is an over-the-counter medication, any medications need veterinarian supervision.