I just found out something I didn’t know. they actually sell aspirin made for dogs.
That really surprised me.
Reading: Is asprin bad for dogs
I know some vets recommend giving dogs aspirin for pain…and I even know a couple of people who give it to their dogs. which frankly makes me cringe (you’ll see why if you read on).
but I assumed people were using regular old buffered aspirin from the pharmacy.
When I started researching, I found several brands of “dog aspirin”. chew alone has about 8 different ones (and a couple for horses too).
Yes, some manufacturers have made food-flavored chewable aspirin (with terrible fake ingredients). so you don’t have to give your dog that little pill.
I find this alarming! the fact that you can buy aspirin for dogs tells me that there is enough demand to make it worth producing.
and that means a lot of dogs get aspirin… which is very unfortunate.
People assume it’s safe because their vet recommends it…and people have been taking aspirin for over a century!
So… I realized that the information I’m going to share is very important for dog owners!
I’ll tell you about the problems with aspirin. …and I will suggest some much safer natural alternatives that you can use instead.
Of course, aspirin is a household name that everyone knows. but just in case, here’s a bit of history…
history of aspirin
Aspirin is the common name for aspirin. It is one of the best known pain relievers that exist.
aspirin actually comes from a natural herbal medicine. In the 5th century BC, Hippocrates used powdered willow bark to treat pain and fever.
salicin was the medicinal compound of willow bark. In the 19th century, scientists isolated this ingredient. they turned it into salicylic acid.
in 1853, a french chemist, charles frederick gerhardt, neutralized salicylic acid. he buffered it with sodium (sodium salicylate) and acetyl chloride. this created aspirin.
In 1899, a German Bayer chemist named Felix Hoffmann found Gerhardt’s formula. hoffmann convinced bayer to commercialize this “new” wonder drug.
The patent on aspirin dates back to February 27, 1900. And of course, as you know, Bayer still makes aspirin today.
And today’s aspirin is definitely not natural anymore.It’s also not safe for your dog.
what does aspirin do
Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
is a pain reliever used to control mild to moderate pain such as headaches, muscle aches, and toothaches. some people may take it to help with the pain and inflammation of arthritis…although there are other more popular arthritis medications out there today.
Like other NSAIDs, aspirin blocks pain messengers called prostaglandins in the body. It does this by inhibiting the cox1 and cox2 enzymes that produce prostaglandins.
Aspirin also interferes with the body’s blood-clotting cells, called platelets. so doctors often prescribe low-dose daily aspirin as a blood thinner.
It’s supposed to reduce the risk of blood clots, clogged arteries, and heart attacks… but recent studies have found that it’s not very effective at reducing cardiac deaths. and can even contribute to cancer (more on that when I talk about side effects).
aspirin is still a very popular drug…despite the fact that many people take alternative NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen. acetaminophen (tylenol or acetaminophen) is another popular pain reliever.
Caution: Please never give your dog ibuprofen (advil) or naproxen (aleve). these drugs are toxic to dogs…although vets can prescribe naproxen. Some vets may also recommend Tylenol, but its safety in dogs is questionable.
so… when you call your conventional vet because your dog is limping or in pain, they may say, “oh, he’ll be fine.” give him a buffered aspirin.
But even though your vet may say this, think twice. because aspirin can have some serious side effects.
And, by the way, it is not formally approved for veterinary use.
6 risks that aspirin has for dogs
Although the occasional aspirin may not be too harmful…long-term use may cause some harm.
First of all, it can be counterproductive to your dog’s recovery from illness or injury.
1. aspirin can reverse healing
Remember I said that NSAIDs inhibit prostaglandins?
well that can be good for the pain. but it is not good for other bodily functions. because prostaglandins also do good things in the body.
So, when aspirin inhibits prostaglandins, it can have other unwanted effects.
Prostaglandins are released when the body needs them. therefore, if your dog has an injury, the prostaglandins create inflammation, pain, and fever.
These symptoms are part of the body’s natural healing process. therefore, while aspirin may reduce pain and inflammation…it may decrease your dog’s ability to recover.
This reduced healing ability can have serious effects. especially if you are using aspirin or other NSAIDs for joint pain. Several studies show that NSAIDs can cause cartilage to break down…and increase arthritis symptoms. not exactly what you need in a dog with existing joint problems!
2. aspirin can cause ulcers
Your dog needs prostaglandins to help protect his stomach and intestinal lining. without this protection, you could develop an ulcer. Ulcers are a common side effect of regular aspirin use.
and if your dog has an ulcer, continuing to give him aspirin could cause a perforated or bleeding ulcer.
3. aspirin can cause bleeding
Because aspirin acts as a blood thinner, it can prevent blood from clotting when your dog has a bleeding wound… or if he has to undergo surgery of any kind.
dogs with von willebrand disease should definitely not take aspirin. von willebrand disease is a lifelong bleeding disorder in which the blood does not clot.
Worse, aspirin could cause internal bleeding, which you may not notice until it’s too late. this could be from an ulcer, or anywhere in the digestive tract.
Aspirin can also sometimes cause a hemorrhagic stroke, due to bleeding in the brain. a 2018 study found that bleeding was more common in people taking aspirin than in those taking placebo.
4. aspirin can cause liver damage
Regular use of aspirin can cause liver damage, because the liver absorbs these toxins. The liver is an organ of detoxification, but having to process too many ongoing toxins can cause damage. so aspirin can cause problems such as hepatitis and acute liver failure.
5. aspirin can cause kidney problems
Prostaglandins help blood get to the kidneys. so aspirin can reduce blood flow to these vital organs and prevent them from doing their job.
6. the link between aspirin and cancer
If you give your dog aspirin regularly, you should also be concerned that it may increase his risk of cancer.
a 2018 study followed more than 19,000 adults over the age of 65 without heart disease, dementia, or disability.
Half received daily aspirin and the other half received placebo.
cancer was responsible for 6.7 deaths per 1000 person-years in the aspirin group…compared to 5.1 in the placebo group. cancer-related death occurred in 3.1% of the aspirin group and 2.3% of the placebo group.
Because there have been studies in the past showing that aspirin can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer… the results surprised the authors of this study.
And in this study, death from all causes was higher in the aspirin group than in the placebo group.
signs of aspirin side effects
If your dog takes aspirin, be on the lookout for these adverse reactions:
- loss of appetite
- vomiting, especially with blood in the vomit
- abdominal pain
- pale gums
- black tarry stools (indicating internal bleeding)
- blood in the urine (indicating kidney problems or internal bleeding)
If your dog is taking aspirin and you notice any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian.
Even if your dog doesn’t take aspirin, more severe symptoms could mean toxicity from something else. or your dog could have gotten into his own supply of aspirin or other medications.
6 natural alternatives to aspirin
There are many natural solutions to manage your dog’s pain, depending on the cause. here are some suggestions.
1. cbd oil
Whether your dog has an injury or ongoing joint pain, studies show that a good full-spectrum cbd oil can help… without the side effects of aspirin.
cbd is a natural anti-inflammatory. It works by binding to cb1 receptors in the brain. These receptors stimulate the immune system to reduce inflammation.
CBD also helps change the way your dog’s brain perceives pain. binds to cb1 and cb2 receptors in the brain and nervous system.
For best results, use a 1000mg full spectrum cbd oil and administer 1 dropper per day, directly into your dog’s mouth. If you find that your dog needs more for pain relief, you can increase the dosage.
Turmeric can reduce inflammation and relieve pain and stiffness. making it an excellent option if your dog has arthritis or other chronic pain.
See also: Long-term management of a dog with idiopathic megaesophagus and recurrent aspiration pneumonia by use of an indwelling esophagostomy tube for suction of esophageal content and esophagogastric tube feeding – PMC
The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin.
Curcumin is an amazing compound with many medicinal properties. It is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and healing.
can help with arthritis, as well as many other illnesses.
studies show curcumin works as well as or better than:
- anti-inflammatory drugs
- pain relievers
- arthritis drugs
how to give turmeric or curcumin
There are several ways to help your dog with this bright yellow spice.
Buy organic turmeric powder and give 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon per day for every 10 pounds of your dog’s body weight. just add it to your food.
You can also buy curcumin powder or capsules at a health food store. in that case, assume the dose is for a 150-pound person and adjust for your dog’s body weight.
You can also buy the whole root at a grocery store and grate some into your dog’s food.
Or you can buy a supplement with curcumin and follow the instructions on the package.
Warning: Turmeric is “hot.” so if you have a “hot” dog that is always looking for a cool place to lie down, turmeric or curcumin may not be right for him.
3. boswellia (boswellia serrata)
If your dog has arthritis, boswellia or frankincense are good herbs to try. its phytochemicals help control inflammation. a 2004 Swiss study showed that 6 weeks of boswellia significantly reduced signs of arthritis in 71% of dogs.
Boswellia is an ingredient in many combination herbal pain relievers and anti-inflammatory remedies. if you buy one of those, follow the dosage instructions on the package. With a human product, assume the dosage is for a 150 lb. person and adjust for your dog’s weight.
When using boswellia alone, give it with food, using 5 to 10 mg per day per pound of your dog’s weight.
Caution: There are concerns about the sustainability of the Indian Boswelllia serrata tree. so if you do choose it, try to find a supplier that sources it responsibly and sustainably.
4. devil’s claw (harpagophytum procumbens)
Devil’s claw is an African plant that is an effective anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
devil’s claw has been researched quite well. studies show that it is effective for arthritis and muscle pain. it is an inexpensive herb that is widely available at health food stores.
Devil’s claw is usually packaged for humans…so assume the dosage on the container is for a 150 pound person and adjust for your dog’s weight.
caution: do not use for devil’s claw in diabetic, pregnant or lactating bitches. may interact with some medications (especially cardiac and hypertensive or hypotensive medications). so consult your veterinarian if your dog is taking any other medications.
5. cayenne (capsicum spp)
cayenne comes from a hot pepper. capsaicin can block pain and increase circulation in connective tissues and joints. this makes it very effective as a pain reliever.
You can also buy capsicum ointments or creams and use them topically on sore areas. topical use can reduce pain and activate the body’s own anti-inflammatory response.
For internal use, cayenne pepper usually comes in a softgel that contains a small pinch of powder. or you can simply add a small pinch of the powdered herb to your dog’s food.
Caution: Surprisingly, cayenne does not irritate the digestive tract when used in moderation. although you may want to avoid it if your dog has a sensitive digestive system.
6. homeopathic remedies for pain
Homeopathic remedies can be very effective for pain. it is important to choose the remedy that best suits your dog’s symptoms. If your dog’s condition is chronic, consult a professional homeopath. find one at theavh.org – most will do phone consultations.
some good options are:
arnica montana – always the first remedy for wounds and injuries
rhus toxicodendron – for stiffness and pain that improves with movement. ideal for sprains, strains and arthritis.
ruta graveolens – a good option to heal ligaments and tendons.
calcarea carbonica – a remedy for chronic pain… especially if there is inflammation in the ligaments around the knees or hips.
For more detailed descriptions, see Dr. todd cooney here.
Avoid using aspirin for your dog, even if your vet recommends it!
Instead, try some of these safe and natural options that can ease your dog’s pain without harming him.