WHERE DOES IT HURT?
Aspirin for dogs initially may seem like a good idea when a dog is in pain. But the more we learn about the physiology of our canine companions, the evidence is clear: dogs respond best to medical treatments created specifically for dogs. Winston’s Pain Formula and Winston’s Joint Formula (www.dogshealth.com) offer safe, gentle effective treatment for common causes of dog pain, including hip dysplasia and arthritis, which affects 1 in 5—possibly 1 in 4—dogs.
Often, these two conditions are simultaneously present in a dog, especially as a dog ages, diminishing the dog’s energy, mobility, and quality of life. Winston’s Pain Formula and Winston’s Joint Formula were developed by a naturopathic doctor for his own beloved dog, Winston, and these all-natural products may be helpful not only in treating pain, but also for addressing the underlying causes of pain, such as cartilage erosion and joint inflammation, in dogs.
Dogs are great communicators. They tell us so much about themselves by the posture and angle of their heads and bodies, their movements, their responses, and their vocalizing. But as bonded as we may feel to our canine companions, they cannot speak. And when they are in pain, they are unable to give us specific details. In fact, some breeds including Pit Bulls have been bred specifically not to show pain, in order to maintain dominance in challenge-matches with other dogs.
ASPIRIN FOR DOGS: LOOK, LISTEN, AND PAY ATTENTION.
Aspirin for dogs is a common treatment practice among well-intentioned dog owners. For more than a century, we humans have used aspirin for everything from a headache to a fever, and aspirin is found in almost every medicine-cabinet. It does indeed relieve pain, and also may be recommended to aging humans as a mild blood-thinner, presumed to support heart health and prevent heart attacks in mid-life and old age.
But this doesn’t mean that it’s right for your dog.
In fact, aspirin should never be given to puppies, under any circumstances. And most other medications for human beings are dangerous for our pets. Aspirin For Dogs may be suitable in the short-term, depending upon the size and weight of your dog. As with human, aspirin can cause tummy-trouble, especially when taken on an empty stomach, and there may be other contraindications of aspirin for dogs. We are so accustomed to self-diagnosing and self-medicating that we may find ourselves doing the same for our pets. This can make your pet sick, and even endanger its life.
Before you attempt to treat or medicate your dog in any way, calmly assess the condition of your pet. Here are some signs that your dog may be ill, and may be experiencing pain:
WHEN YOUR DOG IS IN PAIN
LOSS OF ENERGY – If your dog suddenly becomes lethargic, chances are that something is wrong. Dogs are by nature complex, intelligent, social creatures who thrive on activity and interaction. Some breeds have been specifically bred for large muscles and high endurance (think Samoyeds, Huskies, Akidas, German Shepherds, Spaniels, Collies, Setters), generally for hunting and working with humans—they literally were not designed to spend the day on the couch. Every dog is different, and some are more high-energy than others. But if you observe a drop in energy in your animal, the reason may be that the animal is in pain, or is suffering in some way.
DO DOGS GET DEPRESSED? – The short answer is, yes. When dogs withdraw, seclude themselves, cut off relationships, lose interest in other dogs and in people, don’t seek contact and interaction, become unusually quiet, no longer take obvious pleasure in their usual doggy pleasures (park, ball, Frisbee, meals, leash, walks, rides in the car, chasing cats), it would be reasonable to say that the dog is experiencing a form of depression. In dogs, as in humans, pain or illness may cause this emotional shut-down.
CHANGES AT BOTH ENDS –By this, we mean loss of appetite, and changes in bowel and bladder habits. Some mild fluctuations are normal. All of us have days when we simply aren’t hungry, or when we have a bit of indigestion for no apparent reason. These minor shifts do not necessarily signal trouble. But if your dog stops eating, vomits frequently, begins defecating or urinating inside the house (especially if the dog has been successfully housebroken), has a tender or bloated tummy, or appears constipated when taking a “constitutional” walk, schedule a visit with your veterinarian immediately,
CHANGES IN WALK, GAIT, POSTURE
These aspects of dog health often result in dog-owners using aspirin for dogs. Winston’s Pain Formula and Winston’s Joint Formula (www.dogshealth.com) may be a safer and more effective choice, since these all-natural products were created specifically for dogs experiencing discomfort and loss of mobility as the result of joint-degeneration in its various forms.
DANGER SIGNS OF DOG ARTHRITIS AND HIP DYSPLASIA:
- Lowered back end – dog tries to shift its weight forward
- Back legs pressed together – dog leans forward to minimize weight on its back legs
- Front legs placed more wide-apart than usual – to distribute the weight-load
- Muscular atrophy or “wasting” (thinning) of back legs – from lack of use
- Dog has difficulty rising from a sleeping position
- Movements seem stiff, cramped, not fluid and easy
- Limping, and “bunny-hopping”, where dog’s back legs are held together and the dog hops, instead of moving with its normal gait
- Hesitates to climb stairs or jump
- Favors one leg
- Whimpering and whining
- Unexplained aggression, snapping, even biting
- Refusal to run, fetch, go on walks
- Repetitive licking of a painful joint-area (check for seemingly “bleached” fur at joint – enzymes in dog-saliva discolor the hair)
- Cold, damp weather makes it worse—dog “complains” or seems especially lethargic during chilly, wet weather. This is because air-temperature and humidity do interact with soft tissue, joint and cartilage inflammation.
THE TROUBLE WITH ASPIRIN FOR DOGS
If aspirin for dogs seems like a no-brainer to you, it’s because we take aspirin for granted. This drug is so widely used that it is viewed both as a cure-all, and as harmless. It is actually neither, especially in regard to dogs.
WARNING: To responsible dog owners, many of the OTC painkillers in your medicine cabinet are very dangerous for your dog. Never reach for the acetaminophen or the ibuprofen when your dog is in pain: these common human palliatives are deadly for your dog!
Aspirin falls into the category of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), and for more than a hundred years, it’s been in common usage for aches and pains of all kinds. Aspirin is especially useful to humans for short-term, acute pain and fever, as well as the brief, sharp pain of occasional headaches (and even hang-overs!).
Aspirin for dogs may be a suitable treatment in the short-term when your dog is in pain. Appropriate use of aspirin for dogs is low-dose, and not as an extended practice. Under no circumstances, however, should you give aspirin to dogs under the age of one year old. This is because puppies have not yet developed the enzymes in their bodies to effectively deal with the compounds in aspirin.
For similar reasons, never give aspirin to a pregnant or nursing mother-dog. The compounds in the aspirin may cause fetal defects in unborn puppies, and may be toxic and damaging to nursing puppies when transmitted through the mother dog’s milk.
If your dog is a year old or older and is not pregnant, and is showing evidence of pain, especially the pain of inflammation associated with dog arthritis and hip dysplasia, follow this safety-guide for aspirin for dogs:
RULE OF THUMB: 5mg to 10 mg of aspirin per pound of an adult dog’s weight, given once every 12 hours
- 20 lb. dog : Aspirin dosage: 200 milligrams once every 12 hours
- 75 lb. dog: Aspirin dosage: 750 milligrams once every 12 hours
Note: Two of the regular 325 mg aspirins which are typically sold in drugstores (equaling 650 mg) should be sufficient for dogs 75 lbs. and up.
As you may know from your own experience with aspirin, this common drug can irritate the lining of the stomach. In fact, in dogs, aspirin may result in ulcers which are indicated by blood-tinged vomit. In order to make the aspirin more appetizing (dogs often are put off by the synthetic smell and taste), wrap the pill in a bit of meat or doggie-treat.
Because aspirin can easily irritate the stomach, don’t give aspirin to a dog with ulcers or other digestive issues. Veterinarians also agree that aspirin for dogs is not recommended when the dog is taking steroids for allergies or immunosystem conditions.
The biggest issue with aspirin for dogs, however, is that it is not a viable long-term treatment. Although aspirin for dogs may be an effective pain-reliever in the short term, aspirin does not arrest the development of dog arthritis, due to its negative effects on proteoglycan synthesis, needed for other normal bodily functions. In fact, strange though it may seem, long-term use of aspirin for dogs can lead to premature degeneration of the dog’s joints.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW FOR YOUR DOG
- When your dog is giving you the signs that it is in pain, schedule a visit with your veterinarian
- If dog arthritis, hip dysplasia or both are diagnosed and confirmed, consider that for 20 years, dog-lovers have treated these conditions with Winston’s Pain Formula and Winston’s Joint Formula (www.dogshealth.com)
- Provide a padded bed for your dog. Sleeping on a hard surface creates muscle-contraction, which can make inflammation more painful. A gel-pad, which is literally a thin, firm, jelly mattress, offers excellent cushioning to ease the pain of sore joints.
- Keep your dog active as well as comfortable, to prevent obesity. Becoming overweight makes every health problem worse, in canines and in humans.
- Provide heat for your dog. It may seem counter-intuitive, but arthritis and hip dysplasia respond better to heat than to cold (cold-packs are best for bringing down the inflammation of an incision after surgery). Be careful when using heat on your dog. A hot water bottle in a snuggly fleece liner, or a heating pad set on the lowest setting, may be perfect for helping your dog relax and sleep.
- If possible, offer your dog the opportunity to swim. Proper exercise is always good for a dog’s systemic health, and when weight-bearing exercise like walking and running are painful, the buoyant feeling of being in water may be both relaxing and energizing to your dog.
- Remove obstacles which stress your dog’s joints. Offer your dog a ramp to the front door, since taking the stairs puts strain on joints. And, try a doggie-ramp leading to your bed and couch, so that your dog can continue to bond with the family.
- Try massaging your dog. Be gentle and gradual. In some cases, slow, light, pressure actually helps to reduce neuro-muscular inflammation. Some experts theorize that massage works in these cases simply because the dog enjoys being touched by its human, and produces brain-chemicals which are natural pain-killers (endorphins) when it is touched in a loving manner. Massage in these cases is as effective or more effective than aspirin for dogs.