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Aspirin for Dogs With Arthritis: Considerations & Precautions (Vet Answer)

Dr. Stacie Grannum

By Dr. Stacie Grannum

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Dr. Stacie Grannum

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It may be tempting to reach for the aspirin in your medicine cabinet to give it to your dog for their aches and pains, but this should be done with caution. Aspirin should only be given under the direct supervision and guidance of your dog’s veterinarian. While it may be one of the more tolerable OTC human medications, there are far better and safer alternative pain relievers that your veterinarian can prescribe for arthritis.

Aspirin can cause serious and potentially life-threatening side effects in dogs if it is not administered correctly. It can also interact with many different drugs and interfere with laboratory results, which is why your veterinarian needs to be familiar with your dog’s medical history before administering any OTC medications.

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What Is Aspirin?

Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID. Aspirin may also be known as acetylsalicylic acid, or ASA.

What Is Aspirin Used For?

Aspirin is used for its pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and fever-reducing effects. It also has antiplatelet activity and is used to reduce the aggregation, or clumping, of platelets in certain diseases. In veterinary medicine, it may be used off label, meaning that it is used in a way other than what is directed on the drug’s label.

macro shot of white aspirin on white background
Image Credit: Shane Maritch, Shutterstock

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Aspirin?

Adverse effects in dogs include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding (bright red or black, tarry stools, and/or bloody vomitus)
  • Abnormal bruising
  • Hypersensitivity reactions (rare)

When Should Aspirin Never Be Given to a Dog?

Aspirin should be used cautiously in dogs with:
  • Kidney insufficiency
  • Liver failure
Aspirin is contraindicated in dogs with:
  • Previous hypersensitivity or allergic reactions to it
  • Bleeding ulcers or other bleeding disorders
  • Asthma
  • Pregnancy
  • Concurrent use with another NSAID or corticosteroid (may increase bleeding risks)

Aspirin should be stopped 1 week prior to surgical procedures (if possible) due to its antiplatelet effects, which can increase the risk of bleeding.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Healthy and Safe

  • Closely follow your veterinarian’s dosage and frequency instructions.
  • Always talk with your veterinarian before administering any OTC medications.
  • Closely monitor your dog for any adverse reactions.
  • Keep all medications safely secured and out of reach of pets.
a dalmatian dog at the vet clinic
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock



Aspirin may be used for your dog’s arthritis, but the dosage and frequency instructions should only be provided by your veterinarian. Side effects may be dose dependent and can range from gastrointestinal signs to organ failure and death. OTC medications, including aspirin, should never be given to your dog without your veterinarian’s consent. As with all medications, closely monitor your dog for any adverse effects afterward, and notify your veterinarian immediately if such effects are observed or if an overdose is suspected.

Featured Image Credit: Irin Fierce, Shutterstock

Dr. Stacie Grannum

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Dr. Stacie Grannum was born and raised in Arizona. When Dr. Stacie Grannum was five years old, an encounter with a tiny creature changed her life forever. A baby bird fell high from its nest, and Dr. Grannum diligently cared for it. Despite her attempts to save it, the little bird did not survive. From this devastating loss came a new ambition, carving the path that Dr. Grannum followed. She knew that she wanted to pursue...Read more

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