Aspirin Toxicity in Dogs
Aspirin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, has beneficial effects including anti-platelet, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. However, it can also be toxic. Once ingested, aspirin forms salicylic acid, which is then distributed throughout the body.
Dog owners must therefore follow their veterinarian’s orders strictly if they use aspirin for any reason.
The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.
Symptoms and Types
One of the first noticeable signs is loss of appetite. Other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and intestinal hemorrhage brought on by ulceration in the stomach and small intestines. The central nervous system is affected and the dog may have trouble walking, appear weak and uncoordinated, or even collapse. Loss of consciousness and sudden death can also occur.
Since nontoxic levels can produce these symptoms, owners should monitor for any digestive problems or change in behavior when giving their dog aspirin for any medical reason. If a significant amount of aspirin is ingested, emergency treatment is necessary.
If you know or suspect your dog has ingested aspirin, diagnostic tests should focus on the severity of the toxicity. A blood sample will be taken to assess cell counts and serum chemistries. Usually the dog is anemic and has electrolyte abnormalities. Additional blood may also be taken to assess its clotting ability.
Dogs treated within 12 hours with limited signs of distress can have the concentration of aspirin in the body decreased through a prescribed treatment of decontamination. The sooner this care begins, the better. The veterinarian may also recommend you to induce vomiting at home before coming to the clinic for treatment. By inducing vomiting, or pumping the stomach (gastric lavage), the veterinarian will remove as much aspirin as possible. Activated charcoal may be given after vomiting to absorb the aspirin.
Medications that encourage healing or protect the gastrointestinal lining are also generally prescribed. Depending on the dog’s status, fluids and other supportive treatments may be necessary. Hospitalization and repeated blood analysis is often necessary until the dog is stable.
Living and Management
Aspirin has several clinical uses. It can be prescribed as a pain reliever, an anti-inflammatory, an anti-platelet agent, and for lowering body temperature. If aspirin is used for a chronic condition, such as to prevent a blockage of the blood vessel (arterial thromboembolism), it is important to follow the veterinarian’s directions, and reducing or discontinuing the aspirin dosage may be necessary if the dog is susceptible to toxicity.
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