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Acetylsalicylic Acid (Aspirin)

By: Dr. Mark Papich

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Overview

  • Aspirin is a drug that reduces inflammation and fever, and relieves pain. The primary compound responsible for inflammation, fever and pain is prostaglandin. Aspirin acts by blocking the synthesis of this chemical.
  • Aspirin also acts to reduce a chemical that is important in the effectiveness of platelets. This results in platelets losing their ability to clump together to prevent bleeding.
  • Aspirin belongs to the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs commonly abbreviated as NSAIDs.
  • Aspirin is available without a prescription but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans and animals.
  • Human formulations: Aspirin is supplied by numerous drug companies with a variety of trade names and various generic formulations. Some of the common trade names include Bufferin, Ascriptin and Bayer Aspirin.
  • Veterinary formulations: Aspirin 60 Grain (Butler)

    Uses of Aspirin

  • Aspirin can be used to treat minor pain and inflammation. It is often used to treat chronic conditions such as arthritis.
  • Aspirin also can keep the blood from clotting. For this reason, aspirin is sometimes used in animals suffering from diseases associated with excessive blood clots or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, aspirin can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Aspirin should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Aspirin often upsets the stomach and intestines due to its irritating chemical nature and because it blocks the beneficial body chemicals that protect the linings of those organs. Therefore, stomach irritation cannot always be prevented by giving the drug with food or by using a "buffered" or coated aspirin tablet.
  • Aspirin may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with aspirin. Such drugs include furosemide, phenobarbital, corticosteroids and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
  • Side effects of aspirin include vomiting, vomiting of blood, loss of appetite, diarrhea, black bowel movements, weight loss with chronic use and anemia from bleeding in the stomach.
  • Because aspirin can keep blood from clotting, it also may cause bleeding in some animals. This may be evident, for example, when a nosebleed occurs, but is difficult to identify when it occurs internally, as with the stomach or intestine.
  • Never administer aspirin to a cat without consulting your veterinarian. Because cats do not eliminate aspirin as readily as dogs or people, they are easily overdosed. Signs of overdose in cats include depression, difficulty breathing, and collapse, in addition to the other symptoms mentioned above.

    How Aspirin Is Supplied

  • Aspirin comes in many formulations and combinations.
  • The typical adult human aspirin tablet is 325 mg (5 grains). Low-strength aspirin (sometimes called "Adult Regimen") is available in 81 mg tablet sizes.
  • Children's tablet size is about 81 mg.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • A typical aspirin dose is 5 to 10 mg per pound (10 to 20 mg/kg) twice daily for dogs, and 5 mg per pound (10 mg/kg) once every other day for cats.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.




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