Many pet owners use over-the-counter drugs to treat a variety of common ailments. Aspirin is used to control pain, Pepto Bismol is used for upset tummies, Imodium AD is used for ... well, you know!
Although it's best to discuss any of these medications with the vet before using them, we don't always do that.
When I got my sweet Mamie in November, 1995, she was an 11-year-old foster dog with horrible teeth. From the beginning, the vet said to give her aspirin when the pain got bad. We tried to salvage them, but by March it was time to do something. She had been in varying degrees of pain for over a year and it was time for time relief.
And by that time, the aspirin had become something I didn't even think about.
I had also found a couple mammary tumors and thought we'd just take care of the teeth and tumors all at once. I had decided that since she was 13 years old, this was the last time she was going under anesthesia.
She went to the vet at 7:30 AM on Thursday and I would pick her up after work.
At noon she seemed to be doing well and was holding her head up. The vet called me and said he had pulled eight teeth and removed two mammary tumors. The ugly black tumor that we were both concerned about was actually a benign growth on a blood vessel.
By 2:30 it was evident that something was wrong. Her blood wasn't clotting properly. Nothing had showed up on the pre-surgery blood screening, but something was wrong. Dr. Brown was getting concerned. He called and said that he'd like to keep her overnight.
I was to pick her up and take her home after work. I went to the vet's anyway at 5:00 and asked to see her. She was just laying in a double cage with her head on a pillow. I stroked her head and talked to her. I was there for 45 minutes and she never woke up. She was on her second bag of IV.
She had a HUGE bruise on the inside of her thigh and on her tummy. This was caused by the blood vessel tumor. The site where it was removed had continued to ooze blood under the skin. Her beautiful face was swollen from having the teeth pulled and her muzzle was bloody.
I spoke with the vet several times that day and he kept asking questions. "Did she eat this? Have you noticed that?" When Dr. Brown asked me if I had given her any aspirin recently - I said, "Yes, for her teeth. I've been giving her aspirin off and on for over a year."
He nodded and said (in a very nonaccusatory way!) "aha." Dr. Brown seemed relieved to know the reason. I wanted it to be anything else! He said that aspirin use should really be stopped 7-10 days prior to surgery.
Although it never occurred to me that it would cause any harm, I had actually caused undo stress on her poor old body. I didn't mean to, but I had caused it nonetheless.
If I mentioned the use of aspirin to him the week before when we made the appointment for surgery, he probably would have prescribed Rimadyl. Rimadyl (carprofen) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflmmatory drug that unlike human nsaids (Motrin, etc.) is not toxic to dogs. In fact, it has very few side effects and its effectiveness is amazing.
The package insert for Rimadyl is on-line here.
If you have been giving your greyhound aspirin to control the chronic pain of arthritis or from a broken bone, ask your vet about Rimadyl. It costs about $1 per day, but if your greyhound is in pain it is money well spent!
When we as pet owners become more and more savvy as to what human meds can be given safely - we must also take the responsibility to tell the vet everything. Even something we think is inconsequential. It could make all the difference.