Can I give aspirin to my dog?

Q: I have a seven year old chow that has started an exercise program of walking about one to two miles a day. After we walk I give him two aspirin; is that okay? Are there any precautions I should know of or should be doing for him? I will massage his hips if he really is sore. We even alternated days walking so he would get rest. Any suggestions?

A: Although exercise is generally healthy for everyone, you should never force your dog to walk to the point of pain. As a dog gets older, it is natural for age related changes in the skeleton and joints to limit his durability. Some dogs can walk or run for miles, well into their senior years. Others develop arthritis and other problems, and must have only limited exercise after the age of five.

Aspirin is fine for dogs, and commonly used to treat arthritic pain, for it is a potent anti-inflammatory drug. It is highly acidic, and can irritate the stomach. It should be given with food or on a full stomach. If nausea or vomiting is noticed, the dose should be reduced. In general, a five grain aspirin, about 325 mg, administered twice daily is sufficient for a 50 to 70 pound dog. Higher doses may not be more effective, and do run more of a chance of stomach upset.

Your veterinarian may have other, more effective medications for arthritic pain. If your dog is painful because of long walks, you should shorten the walks to prevent pain, rather than trying to relieve the pain with aspirin after the fact.

What are the pros and cons on using Prednisone?

Q: Could you please discuss the pros and cons of prednisone vs prednisolone? I have a four year old female Vizsla diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease two years ago. She’s on 20 mg prednisone every other day and has no problems currently, but I’m concerned about long-term effects. Thank you.

A: Prednisolone and prednisone are essentially the same. Prednisone is a steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. This group of medications has a large number of applications in veterinary medicine, including the treatment of arthritis, allergic reactions, bee stings, dermatitis, and pain. Steroids work by suppressing the body’s immune system. This can also have detrimental effects, for the immune system also protects the body from infections, cancer and other diseases. A dog on prednisone is more likely to develop cancer or get infections. It is important for any dog on prednisone therapy to be monitored closely by the prescribing doctor. Dogs on long term prednisone need regular blood tests to insure they are healthy.

You should keep your veterinarian informed as to your dog’s health and activity level. The prednisolone dosage may have to be lowered if you notice lethargy, weakness, frequent infections, runny eyes, elevated heart rate, excessive weight gain or other abnormal symptoms. Any pet on a steroid should be closely monitored by the veterinarian with regular visits, and good communication from owner to doctor between visits. Keep in mind, your veterinarian assumes all is going well if you don’t call.