Aspirin Toxicity in Cats & Dogs

Here is a great article from Pet Adviser on the dangers of Aspirin!

By Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, Pets Adviser


When your pet is in pain, it is an understandable temptation to give him an over-the-counter painkiller designed for human use. However, you need to be alert to this fact:

Dogs and cats break down drugs in different ways and at different rates from humans, so the risk of accidentally poisoning your pet is high.

Aspirin is a good example of this because human metabolism deactivates the active ingredient, acetylsalicylic acid, in three to four hours, whereas this takes anywhere from nine to 13 hours in dogs, and up to 10 times longer for cats (22-45 hours).

Because of this slower detox, aspirin stays in the bloodstream longer in dogs and cats, and repeated doses can lead to aspirin poisoning.

Symptoms of Aspirin Toxicity in a Dog or Cat

It is overdose of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) that causes the symptoms, and these are usually associated with gut signs such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Appetite loss
  • Blood loss from gastric ulcers (bloody vomit and dark-colored feces)

If untreated, or if more doses of aspirin are given, these signs can worsen and include:

  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Marked weakness
  • Poor coordination
  • Collapse and even seizures

The biggest cause of aspirin poisoning is well-meaning pet parents giving their pet the wrong dose of aspirin.

If the dose is too high, or if the normal dose is repeated, the accumulation of active acetylsalicylic acid in the bloodstream quickly rises to dangerous levels. Because cats lack an enzyme necessary to deactivate aspirin, even small doses remain in the system for up to three days at a time, and repeating a dose can be disastrous…

There’s more! Read the rest of this article here:

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