Should You Use Aspirin for Dogs with Arthritis?

Dogs with arthritis will often get non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to manage the condition. Aspirin is the most well known NSAID and is used in humans. You may want to know if aspirin can be administered to your pet as well. Typically, aspirin can be given to canines, but the dose should be suitable to prevent toxicity.

Aspirin for Dogs with Arthritis

Aspirin is from the NSAID group and can reduce swelling, fever and pain. It can be prescribed for canines with arthritis, but the vet will prefer other types of NSAIDs because aspirin may have a number of additional side effects. If prescribed, the aspirin should be buffered and preferably, it shouldn't be aspirin for human use. There is aspirin formulated for pets which contains less of the active ingredient.

Side Effects of Aspirin in Dogs

The aspirin can have side effects in dogs, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Stomach ulcers

Consequently, the drug shouldn't be administered if the dog has liver or kidney damage. The drug should be avoided if the dog has to undergo surgery. Aspirin can be toxic in high doses.

Dosage Information

As aspirin can be toxic in high amounts, the dosage should be established by a vet. The dose will be determined by the dog's age, weight and breed. The dose should be closely monitored and altered if changes occur (i.e., the dog loses weight or gets older). If administered in higher doses, the dog's liver may not be able to assimilate the drug and this will result in liver failure, which can be fatal.

Signs of poisoning will include vomiting and excessive drooling, and the dog may even experience seizures. Aspirin will not interact with glucosamine, but may have an adverse reaction when combined with other types of drugs, so discuss with your vet.

Other Drugs for Dog Arthritis Management

Canine arthritis is an irreversible condition of the joints and cannot be cured, but there are several management techniques. Drug therapy is recommended to prevent the swelling and reduce the pain. Aside from aspirin, the dog may be prescribed other drugs that reduce swelling:

  • Metacam or Meloxicam
  • Carprofen
  • Etodolac
  • Corticosteroids or other types of steroids, which are only recommended if the dog's condition cannot be improved with other types of drugs

Apart from the corticosteroids, the above mentioned drugs are all non steroidal, which have fewer side effects and are more recommended, if effective. However, the NSAIDs shouldn't be administered if the pet has advanced kidney damage.

The dog should also lose some weight, which can reduce the stress from the joints. The weight loss can be achieved with a change in the diet, or calorie reduction and low impact exercise. Physical therapy (i.e., water therapy) can be beneficial and will not affect the joints. Supplements such as glucosamine can also be administered to dogs with arthritis.