Pepto-Bismol is a rather common over-the-counter medication that people use when they have digestive health problems. There is a veterinary-approved variant available, so before you decide to give your canine friend Pepto-Bismol, make sure you talk to your vet.
In today’s article, we’re looking at the dosage of bismuth subsalicylate that’s safe for dogs, what conditions it should be used for, and several other facts that you might want to know.
What is Pepto-Bismol and how does it work?
Pepto Bismol is an OTC product that humans use to treat gastrointestinal health upsets caused by indigestion, mainly consisting of diarrhea. It also alleviates symptoms such as gas, nausea, or heartburn.
The most common forms in which this type of product is available are suspension and pills (whether capsules or tablets).
As for whether this medication can prove its worth in pets, the answer is yes. However, veterinary supervision is necessary, particularly if your dog has a history of not reacting too well to human-grade drugs.
Many veterinarians avoid using bismuth subsalicylate in dogs as it does come with a share of adverse reactions, which we will describe in a section below. The main reason why some vets do not agree with using this substance in pets is that it can make the dog’s feces look black, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to tell whether the animal has a gastrointestinal hemorrhage or not.
On top of this, pet owners should know that vet-approved medications are far safer, if only for the reason that they are dosed properly and that their active substances are perfectly tailored to various species.
Dosage in dogs
While the usage of Pepto-Bismol in dogs should be performed under the guidance of a veterinarian, the doses are common knowledge and can be found across several different websites, including the American Kennel Club official site.
The recommended dosage of Pepto-Bismol for dogs is 1 teaspoon per every 10 pounds of body weight. There are alternative ways of stopping a dog’s diarrhea, especially when only mild indigestion seems to be at the root of the problem and the dog is vaccinated against infectious diseases that might cause the same symptoms – such as Parvo, for example.
Also, giving your dog Pepto-Bismol should be done once every eight or nine hours. During that time, you should see whether your dog continues to express digestive distress, gas, nausea, or diarrhea. If it stops, put your dog on a bland diet for several days and avoid continuing to administer the medication.
If it does not stop after two or three doses, call your veterinarian and take your pet to the vet clinic so that he or she is accurately diagnosed and treated with species-appropriate medications instead of Pepto-Bismol.
The best way to properly dose this OTC medication is to use the suspension form. Use a plastic syringe (without the needle) to give it to your dog. If you are wary of pushing the liquid all the way to the back of your dog’s tongue for fear of him/her choking, give your dog small amounts on the sides of the mouth.
Some dogs might have excessive salivation due to nausea, which makes giving them Pepto-Bismol quite challenging as they can vomit it right away. By the way, if your dog is also vomiting, he or she might quickly develop dehydration (also because of the diarrhea) so get to the animal hospital as soon as possible rather than trying to treat your pet at home.
What dogs should never have Pepto-Bismol?
There are some canine categories that should never be given OTC medications manufactured for humans, and these are dogs that have a history of chronic diseases (including seniors), puppies, and pregnant or nursing dogs.
Animals that commonly have allergies to a variety of medications might also be sensitive to bismuth subsalicylate, so the risk is not worth it. Any dogs that have diabetes or bleeding disorders should also not be administered this medication.
If your dog is undergoing treatment with other drugs prescribed by your vet, especially antibiotics or aspirin, you should not give them Pepto-Bismol, either.
Does it cause any side effects?
Yes. Even though most of the adverse reactions that dogs can experience after being administered bismuth subsalicylate are mild, they can show up in quite a large number of animals.
We have already mentioned the color changes of the feces, with them becoming black and tarry, but some dogs can also develop constipation or a darkened tongue.
Although quite uncommon, some dogs might be particularly sensitive to the active substance in the medication, in which case they might experience shortness of breath, a symptom that should convince you to get veterinary assistance right away.
Salicylate toxicity in dogs can also cause some of the following symptoms, most of which appear when the dog has ingested a too large dose:
- Internal bleeding
In some cases, the dog might have to receive specific anti-toxic medication or even undergo gastric lavage so that most of the bismuth subsalicylate solution is removed from their digestive system. When caught early, salicylate toxicity in dogs can be treated quickly, but the dog needs to receive veterinary care as soon as possible.
What else can you use for digestive distress in dogs?
The first piece of advice that we have for you is to talk to your vet and ask them what options you have available both in terms of safe OTC medication and in terms of diet changes.
Some dogs can have IBS or other digestive issues that make them have recurring diarrhea episodes, but if they are not caused by any pathogen, these symptoms can be alleviated with several simple methods.
Some dogs eat too much and develop indigestion as a result, others might eat what they are not supposed to (whether you have allowed them to or not), and there’s obviously a fair share that can nibble on something they found in the grass when you walk them through the park.
Adding canned pumpkin to your dog’s diet can stabilize his or her stools. Sometimes, doing absolutely nothing and making your dog fast for twelve to twenty-four hours can also solve the issue, especially if it’s not severe at all.
If your dog has diarrhea for more than a day, no matter what you’ve tried, you have to take your pet to the vet right away — dehydration is life-threatening.