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Pepto Bismol for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

Dog receiving oral medication with a syringe

Our dogs, like us, sometimes suffer from stomach issues, such as gas, aches, and diarrhea. When these issues flare up in us, there are a number of over-the-counter treatments that we can use to alleviate the symptoms, but what about using something like Pepto Bismol for dogs who are struggling with an upset stomach?

We’ve put together this blog to answer questions such as “can you give dogs Pepto Bismol?”, “is it safe?”, and “how should a dose be administered?”, so you can be sure of how to act the next time your pooch has an upset tummy.

What is Pepto Bismol?

Pepto Bismol is actually a generic trademark for a product called pink bismuth, which is essentially an elixir medicine with the active ingredient bismuth subsalicylate. This ingredient acts as a mild antacid, while also offering some protection to your stomach and lower food pipe from your own stomach acid.

It’s been used to treat conditions in humans such as:

  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Acid reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

Over the years, it’s become a go-to purchase for people all over the world who are trying to combat the symptoms of a belly that’s under stress.

Diarrhea in Dogs

We know that Pepto Bismol is a great choice for people, but can you give a dog Pepto Bismol? To truly understand the answer, you need to first gain some understanding of diarrhea in dogs. If your dog has diarrhea once in a blue moon, there’s likely nothing to be concerned about, but if it happens over and over again, you should definitely consult your vet.

Common, less serious causes of diarrhea in dogs include:

  • Consumption of bad food
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Changes in diet
  • Consumption of dog medications
  • Consumption of small foreign objects.

However, diarrhea can also be indicative of more serious problems, such as:

  • Parasites
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Intestinal cancer
  • And more

As we stated, if diarrhea is a common occurrence, then you need to talk to a veterinary professional, but could you use Pepto Bismol for dogs with a casual case of diarrhea?

Can Dogs Have Pepto Bismol?

If your dog is suffering from a typical bout of diarrhea and you’re fairly sure that it’s not a serious problem, you might be tempted to give them a little Pepto Bismol to treat the symptoms. Dogs, being mammals, share a lot in common with us in the way that their bodies work, and thus providing Pepto Bismol for dogs can indeed alleviate some of the symptoms.

But before you administer it, you should think very carefully about it and definitely consult your vet. Pepto Bismol isn’t necessarily toxic to dogs, but it can have some fairly problematic side effects regardless of how careful you are.

Possible Side Effects of Pepto Bismol for Dogs

While Pepto Bismol could help your dog deal with their diarrhea, nausea, or gas, there are some fairly significant side effects that you need to consider. 

Change in stool colour

One of the common adverse reactions that dogs can have to taking Pepto Bismol is a change in their stool colour, from a typical brown to a more greenish-black shade. This might seem fairly innocuous, but in reality, this is a pretty dangerous outcome.

If your dog is suffering from a more serious condition, then blood might appear in their stool, but the effect of Pepto Bismol could mask this, leaving the condition untreated. There’s overlap between symptoms when it comes to stomach problems, meaning this change in stool colour could lead to a more serious issue being overlooked and considered as a tame case of diarrhea.

X-Ray disruption

If you choose to feed your dog with Pepto Bismol tablets, rather than the liquid form of the treatment, then these tablets could show up on X-rays in radio-opaque. This means they’ll appear on the X-ray as foreign objects, comparable to metal or plastic.

This in turn could lead to unnecessary surgery being undertaken, which puts your dog at far more risk for possibly no reason.

How to Dose Pepto Bismol for Dogs

If you feel that your dog needs a dose of something as soon as possible to relieve its pain, then get on the phone with your vet and ask if they think Pepto Bismol would be a safe option based on the dog and its allergies.

If you get the go-ahead, a safe dose for a dog is 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of their body weight, administered every 6-8 hours. Do so with the liquid form in a syringe, fired directly into the dog’s mouth. If the symptoms persist after a few doses then you should get back in touch with your vet to figure out your next move.

Alternative Treatments

If you’re concerned about treating your dog with Pepto Bismol, you might be asking other questions like “can dogs take Imodium?” or “is there a specific treatment just for dogs”, and the answer to both is yes!... sort of.

  • Imodium for Dogs: If you wish to stop diarrhea in your dog, talk to your vet to see if it’s safe for them, then provide it in pill form (broken if necessary), wrapped in cheese or meat.
  • Corrective Suspension: This is a branded product, that may as well be called “dog Pepto Bismol”, as it uses the same active ingredients in a dog-specific formula.

Pepto Bismol for Dogs: Final Thoughts

So it’s clear that giving Pepto Bismol to dogs with diarrhea and similar conditions isn’t a simple yes or no situation, which is why our primary advice in any case like this is always to consult your vet first.

For more information and advice on pet ownership, check out our blog today. To get a pet insurance quote for your pet please click here

Featured Image by Ayla Verschueren on Unsplash