Aspirin, a well-known non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), is commonly used for pain relief, fever reduction, and clot prevention. While you may be tempted to give it to pets with similar symptoms, aspirin is toxic to our furry companions and can potentially cause a life-threatening illness.
How is aspirin toxic to dogs and cats?
When aspirin is ingested by a dog or cat, it blocks certain enzymes from maintaining normal stomach and intestinal functions, blood flow to the kidney, and allowing platelets to form a clot. This can lead to the following symptoms:
- nausea and diarrhea
- stomach and intestine ulcers and bleeding
- kidney injury or failure
- reduced clotting ability
Cats are especially sensitive to aspirin poisoning because it stays in their system for a longer period of time. All NSAIDs, including aspirin, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen, can negatively interact with other medications and amplify the harmful effects.
Signs of aspirin toxicity
The most common symptoms include:
- vomiting or vomiting blood
- abnormal appetite
- abdominal (belly) pain
- black tarry stool or bloody stool
- hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
- respiratory changes
- abnormal drinking or urination
If you suspect your pet has consumed any aspirin product, it is an emergency! You need to immediately take your pet to the nearest veterinary hospital or poison control centers such as the Pet Poison Helpline or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Treatment for aspirin toxicity
Aspirin toxicity can lead to death and requires prompt veterinary care to give your pet the best chance of recovery. Treatments may include:
- in-hospital monitoring and intensive nursing care
- decontamination of the stomach and intestines
- medications and procedures to protect and reduce the severity of the damage to the red bloods cells, kidneys, and other organs.
How to prevent accidental ingestion of aspirin
It’s best to minimize your pet’s risk of exposure by follow these at-home tips:
- Never administer any over-the-counter or prescription medications to your pets.
- If your veterinarian advises to give an over-the-counter medication to your pet, stick to the recommended brand/product and dose.
- Keep all medications inside secure, chew-proof containers and store out of reach or even in a separate room from your pets.
- Take all medications in a separate room from your pets so they don't try to snatch up any fallen pills.
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