drugs used to relieve pain. There are many classes of painkillers. Demerol,
morphine, codeine, and other narcotics are subject to federal regulation and
cannot be purchased without a prescription.
Buffered or enteric-coated aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is an
over-the-counter analgesic that is reasonably safe for a short time for home
veterinary care in the recommended dosage for dogs. (Aspirin has a very low
margin of safety for cats and should not be used.) Buffered or enteric-coated
aspirin is much safer than regular aspirin because it is less likely to cause
stomach and duodenal ulcers.
Estrus, or heat, is the stage in a female dog's reproductive
cycle during which she becomes receptive to mating with males. At this time,
estrogen levels first increase and then sharply decrease, and mature eggs are
released from the ovaries. Ideally, your dog should be spayed before she enters
her first heat cycle.
Aspirin remains effective as a short-term analgesic to control the pain
associated with musculoskeletal injuries. It is no longer recommended for
long-term control of osteoarthritis, because of its destructive effects on
joint cartilage. There are better analgesics available that do not have this
disadvantage. Aspirin should not be given to dogs with any bleeding or clotting
disorders. Aspirin should be stopped at least one week before any surgery and
should not be used during pregnancy, due to
its effects on clotting mechanisms.
Note that individual dogs metabolize aspirin at very different rates. This
inconsistency can lead to an unexpected accumulation of dangerous breakdown
products in the animal’s body. As few as two regular-strength aspirin tablets
can produce severe organ damage in some medium-size (30 pounds, 13.6kg) dogs.
Follow the exact dosage given in the table on page 571 to avoid this
Aspirin belongs to the general class of drugs collectively known as
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). To treat arthritis
and other inflammations, newer NSAIDs have been tested extensively in dogs.
(See the chart Osteoarthritis Medications, page 404, for more about NSAIDs.)
These are generally less upsetting to the stomach than buffered aspirin and
appear to be more effective for long-term treatment.
However, all NSAIDs irritate the stomach and are capable of causing stomach
and duodenal ulcers. Your veterinarian may prescribe a gastric mucosal
protectant, such as misoprostol (Cytotec) or sucralfate (Carafate), to prevent
this complication. Remember, never use more than one NSAID (including aspirin)
at the same time. Also, do not combine NSAIDs with any corticoteroids, such as
Any dog who is going on one of the NSAIDs should have bloodwork done before
the drug is administered. The bloodwork should be repeated every three to six
months if the dog will be on one of these medications long term. Liver problems
have been seen in some dogs, and Labrador Retrievers may have an idiosyncratic
reaction to carprofen. If liver or kidney problems develop, even if they are
not due to the drug itself, the dosage may need to be adjusted or the dog may
be switched to another pain medication.
Many NSAIDs that can be purchased over the counter have unpredictable
absorption rates and low margins of safety. None of these should be used
without specific instructions from your veterinarian.