Which over the counter medications can you give? Click the link below:
We live in an age where we literally have all the information at our fingertips. This is something I am forever grateful for. Long gone are the days where book shelves house 12 dusty encyclopedias that weigh a billion pounds each. Long gone are the days where Webster is a household name.
We live in an era where google knows our question before we even type it.
There is a ton of information out there. And if it’s on the internet it must be true... right?
Some of this information is downright wrong, scary and sometimes deadly.
I occasionally hang out in forums and in online groups, and one of my favorite things is to watch all the non-medical professional people dish out advice on medical issues.
If you know me, you know I love to get on a soap box and rant/rave about things that make my blood pressure spike. But I will save that for a rainy day. Because your time is valuable.
SO here we go. The first myth: “Aspirin is safe for dogs.”
When I say you shouldn't give your dog aspirin… I mean ALL ASPIRIN. Even if it is labeled as “buffered” or “baby.” I NEVER recommend clients give their dogs this particular medication. Ever. And when a client HAS given aspirin, I then politely and calmly tell them it’s not recommended. – And I always get the same response. (Or one that is similar).
“But I read online that its safe.”
Well frankly… you can do or participate in anything you read online. From cooking crystal meth to a polar plunge. But that doesn’t mean you should.
Double check which meds are safe by clicking here.
Okay I digress, and I will now get to the facts. Here are three reasons you should never give your dog aspirin. (Even if some non-medical opinion blog told you it’s safe)
1. It doesn’t work as well
The fact is that aspirin doesn’t work as well as a dog specific anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatories are often the medications we prescribe for pain. And although Aspirin is labeled as an anti-inflammatory, it unfortunately doesn't do enough for our dog's pain to outweigh the risks. There are lots of brilliant veterinarians out there doing research on pain control in dogs. Now, more than ever- we are very well versed on what pain meds work for animals and those that do not. Not only that… but your veterinarian might prescribe your dog a different cocktail of pain meds based on the kind of pain your dog is having. For example, we know that in people nerve pain is very different from muscle soreness.
So, aspirin doesn’t work very well to control pain AND it might not be the kind of medicine your dog needs in the first place.
2. There is a wash out period
What the hell am I talking about? Let me explain.
When you give Aspirin you royally eff up your veterinarian’s ability to give medications that are proven to reduce pain. One dose of aspirin can completely mess up the dosing schedule for pain meds that will ACTUALLY work well.
Why? Because the safest way to switch from one type of anti-inflammatory to another is to allow a 48-72 hour wash out period between the different medications. We allow this time because during that two to three day period your dog’s body is flushing out the remaining medication. This is essentially the time the body needs to get the medication out of the system. With two different types of medications on board we run a higher risk of serious side effects. And this leads me to my final and most important point…
3. ASPIRIN CAUSES BLEEDING
A study revealed that aspirin causes gastrointestinal bleeding (bleeding in the stomach and intestines) in 100 PERCENT OF ALL DOGS… Yes. Even if its buffered. Yes, even if its “baby” aspirin.
Let me briefly explain why. I promise I won’t get too in depth.
Your dog’s body has two different types of enzymes* responsible for inflammation and other biochemical processes - or reactions that maintain health or cause disease- called COX1 and COX2.
*(What is an enzyme? An enzyme is a tiny molecule or protein that your body produces naturally. It is the “starter” or the catalyst of chemical reactions. These chemical reactions often result in different substances that our bodies need to remain healthy.)
COX1 we do not want to block because it is really important for maintaining the health of tissue and internal organs. It helps create substances that allow platelets to clump together- platelets are essential because in a nut shell they prevent your dog from bleeding out (FYI bleeding out is not conducive with life). COX 1 also produces substances that help maintain the health and lining of your dog’s gut or stomach.
COX2 is the catalyst we DO want to block to reduce pain – because it is responsible for much of the inflammation. The inflammation is what is causing the pain.
Dog specific anti-inflammatories are safer because they are able to select the COX enzyme that they block. And they are selective towards the inflammatory COX2 enzyme- which results in pain relief.
Aspirin is unsafe because it is non selective- It doesn’t care which COX it blocks! LOL! Therefore, it will turn off COX1- the very enzyme your dog is relying on to help his platelets clump, and the very enzyme your dog needs to preserve the lining of his gut so he doesn’t get ulcers or have stomach bleeding.
So, for those of you who like scientific reasoning or evidence--- there ya have it. Aspirin increases risks of gastric bleeding, ulcers, and reduces platelet clumping- which in some situations can result in excessive blood loss or hemorrhage.
And remember that some dogs have a very high sensitivity to aspirin- so there is no reason to risk it if there are safer and more effective medications on the market for your animal.
Please do not give your dog Aspirin. But if you do give your dog aspirin for whatever reason- make sure you tell your veterinarian before they prescribe any additional medications.
If you would like to have pain meds on hand for your dog consider developing a good relationship with your Veterinarian if you haven't already. Ask them if they would mind prescribing an appropriate medication to have - just in case - there is an accident or minor injury.
What over the counter medications are safe for your dog? I compiled a list and dosage form in a PDF as a content upgrade! It lists all the safe over the counter medications you can give your dogs, their appropriate dosages, and what they can be used for. I made it in a PDF so you can download it here on your phone and have it handy when you might need it.
I provide this list with a disclaimer: never ever give your dog over the counter medications without first consulting your veterinarian. Every dog is different and has different sensitivities, needs, and doses. The dosages listed on this list are generic- and please recognize that some dogs might need doses adjusted based on their preexisting conditions and needs.
So, get excited for the next topic!! I will be posting next Thursday on some seriously vital information that you cannot miss!
Happy tails and safe trails!
Libbie Fort, DVM