Welcome to the A-Z Challenge! My theme for this year is Pet Health - information for people about their furry, four-legged family members.
First thing all pet owners should know is that human medicine is not always suitable for pets. Our pets metabolize chemicals much differently that we humans. Aspirin toxicity in dogs and cats is more common than vet offices would like. Sometimes it's accidental, a pill gets dropped on a floor and we don't see it. More often than not, though, people give aspirin to their pets, not knowing the consequences. And before you ask, even baby aspirin can be toxic.
Cats actually lack an enzyme that is required for metabolizing a by-product of aspirin and therefore get sick faster.
Symptoms for both dogs and cats are similar: depression/lethargy, vomiting that may include blood, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, and increased respiratory rates.
These symptoms can occur 4-6 hours after the aspirin was ingested. Aspirin toxicity can lead to acute kidney failure, coma, and even death.
Chronic (over time) toxicity can lead to ulcers and even perforation of the stomach lining, toxic inflammation of the liver, and even bone marrow suppression leading to anemia.
Just an FYI: Children's aspirin contains 81 mg, regular aspirin contains 325 mg, and extra-strength aspirin contains 500 mg. Pepto-Bismol contains 300 mg of salicylate per tablet and 262 mg per 15 ml (1 tbsp.) of liquid. Numerous other products contain aspirin.
Toxic doses: For dogs 22mg per pound per day and for cats 11mg per pound per day.
About a month ago, a young couple came in with their pit bull, who was experiencing some of the symptoms. After about a half hour of blood work, the owners finally cop to giving their dog aspirin for about a month for what they thought was arthritis pain in their dog. The dog wound up being fine, but it cost the pet owners $300-$400 in blood work and medicines to help with stomach ulcers and vomiting.
If your dog has arthritis pain, or other physical pain, veterinarians have pain relievers that are safe for your pets. It may cost you money every month, but I can guarantee pet pain relief medications will not cost you as much as giving your dog aspirin to save a few bucks.
Before you give aspirin, talk to your veterinarian about proper dosages and treatments and alternatives.
My sources: Pet Health Network and Pet Education by Dr.'s Foster/Smith, plus my own experience by working in large/small animal vet practices as well as a veterinary laboratory.