Signs Of Aspirin Toxicity In Pets

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Our furry friends can be very curious, and sometimes, that can lead to dangerous situations. This includes the ingestion of many over-the-counter medicines that we humans have in our homes. 

Aspirin is a common household item that can pose a serious threat to our pets. That’s why it’s important to keep this medicine — along with many others — out of snout’s reach and away from mischievous dogs and cats. Still, accidents happen to even the most careful pet parents, so it’s important to know the symptoms of aspirin toxicity, and what to do if your companion unknowingly swallows some pills. 

Read on to learn more about aspirin toxicity in pets, and what to do if this scary situation happens to you. 

What Is Aspirin & What Is It In? 

Aspirin is an NSAID; a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Acetylsalicylic acid, aspirin’s main ingredient, thins the blood to combat blood clots and other vascular issues and is also used to alleviate inflammation, fever, and pain. NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and Advil are meant for human consumption only and should never be given to pets, as cats and dogs are extremely susceptible to NSAID toxicity. 

Aspirin tablets can be labeled as such, or it can be the main ingredient in other over-the-counter pain medications, so it’s important to check the ingredients of the items in your medicine cabinet. Common medications containing acetylsalicylic acid include Alka-seltzer, Bayer, Excedrin, and Midol, to name a few (check out this article for a more comprehensive list). 

Symptoms Of Aspirin Toxicity In Dogs & Cats: 

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Accelerated and shallow breathing
  • Weak and sluggish behavior 
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures

What To Do If Your Pet Ingests Aspirin: 

As soon as you suspect that your animal has ingested aspirin (or any other medication, for that matter) call their veterinarian. If you’re not able to reach your regular vet right away, call the closest emergency veterinarian to get an expert opinion on what you should do; the ASPCA Animal Poison Control line (888-426-4435) also operates 24/7. 

When you get in touch with an expert, they will ask if you know the amount of medication consumed, so take a look at the bottle to make an estimate.

A chemistry panel and complete blood cell count may be deemed necessary to determine the amount of damage that has occurred through the ingestion of aspirin. Treatment for NSAID toxicity can range depending on the dose that your pet has been exposed to, and can vary between hospitalization and at-home recovery with medication. Depending on the time frame, the vet may decide to induce vomiting if your pet’s body has not had a chance to absorb the medication. High levels of toxicity may require fluid treatments or even blood transfusions. 

Keep Your Pet Safe From Aspirin Toxicity:

Be sure to keep all medications, including aspirin, out of reach of your pet. Consider keeping unsafe substances behind a locked door if your pet is able to open cabinets (a cute but sometimes-dangerous trick). Our pets are great at finding things that have fallen on the floor, so take extra care when removing pills from a bottle and always make sure to find a pill if it’s gone missing. Remember to only give your dog or cat medication that has been prescribed by their veterinarian. 

Keep in mind: It’s a good idea to keep those emergency veterinarian numbers on hand so that you don’t have to go looking for them when time is of the essence. Hang them on your refrigerator or in another easily-accessible spot that you’ll be sure to remember.


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