Aspirin toxicity (salicylate toxicity) is poisoning that occurs following the ingestion of aspirin or aspirin-containing products. Aspirin toxicity usually occurs because of the ingestion of improperly stored drugs or the administration of the incorrect dose of aspirin.
Cats are more susceptible to the effects of aspirin than are dogs because they are unable to metabolize the drug as quickly. Young animals are more susceptible to the toxic effects than are adult animals.
Aspirin toxicity may cause gastrointestinal problems, respiratory difficulties, neurological problems, bleeding disorders, and kidney failure. Gastrointestinal problems are common in dogs whereas central nervous system depression is most common in cats.
What to Watch For
Other diseases can have symptoms that appear similar to aspirin toxicity. These include:
A history of administration or accidental ingestion of aspirin is helpful to your veterinarian in determining the cause of your cat's illness. In addition to obtaining a history and performing a thorough physical examination, your veterinarian will likely perform the following tests.
If accidental ingestion has occurred, remove any remaining pills from the environment. Take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment. If you live more than 30 minutes from the veterinary hospital, call ahead for advice on whether or not to induce vomiting at home prior to transportation.
If you have been administering aspirin and you note lethargy, depression, vomiting, black colored stools, pale gums, or loss of appetite, stop giving the aspirin and seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Do not administer aspirin to pets unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian. Keep bottles of aspirin out of your pet's reach, including bottles kept in purses or pocketbooks.
If your cat's regular care involves administration of aspirin, give enteric-coated aspirin. Administer aspirin with food to limit stomach upset and never exceed the dose prescribed by your veterinarian. Remember: more is not necessarily better.