Just like humans, dogs can suffer from a range of stomach complaints. Your pooch can suffer from gas, indigestion, and diarrhea, just the same as you, and often for similar reasons. Stomach complaints can be caused by eating too much, eating the wrong food, not eating or drinking enough, or because of a minor bug or virus.
In such cases your dog may not need medication as such, rather they need something to help settle their stomach and make them feel better, in much the same way as you would if you were suffering from similar symptoms. So, in such cases is it ok to give your dog a human remedy that is readily available over the counter, such as Pepto Bismol? And, if you do decide to take this approach what should you know to keep your dog safe and well?
Consider the Causes
Before you decide on what course of action to take with your dog’s symptoms, you need to consider what could be causing them. If your dog has severe gas or diarrhea, but is otherwise fit and well, alert, and their usual playful selves, there is little chance that there is anything serious underlaying the symptoms. However, if they are listless, lethargic, not eating or drinking, or in any other way not themselves, then something serious could be going on. In this case you should immediately phone your veterinarian for advice. However, even if your dog is showing no other symptoms, it is advisable to speak to a veterinarian before using an over the counter human medication for the first time.
You should also take into account the length of time your canine companion has been experiencing the symptoms, the severity of the symptoms, and their regularity. This is especially important for diarrhea where they could become dehydrated, causing further complications. Similarly, if your dog has gas, but does not pass any stools for longer than their average time, they could have a blockage. Here again it is a good idea to speak to your veterinarian and to make them aware so that the situation can be monitored in case intervention is needed later.
Dangers, Side-effects and Other Considerations
Generally speaking using Pepto Bismol appropriately over the short term is not harmful to most dogs. However, if your dog has an ongoing medical condition or takes prescribed medication, you should always seek professional advice before giving any further medication or treatment, particularly human over the counter remedies. Of course, such medications should never be given to a pregnant dog, or one who is still nursing.
While generally safe, Pepto Bismol does contain salicylates, which can cause gastric bleeding. It also contains bismuth, which can cause your dog’s stools to turn dark green or black. The problem here is that the color change may mask any bleeding that does occur.
A further consideration is that, especially in tablet form, Pepto Bismol can appear radio-opaque on an x-ray. This means that if your dog’s symptoms do get worse and an x-ray is taken the tablets could be mistaken for metallic foreign objects. Consequently, your dog could undergo unnecessary surgeries, increasing the risk to their overall health and wellbeing.
How to Give Pepto Bismol to Your Dog
If after getting advice from your veterinarian, it is deemed safe to give Pepto Bismol to your four-legged friend it is best to go with the liquid version. As well as being easier to give to your dog, this reduces the risk of issues with x-rays if they are required later.
The recommended dose for a dog is 1 teaspoon for every 10lbs your dog weighs. The dose should be offered every 6 to 8 hours. However, only a few doses should be given before further advice is sought.
The easiest way to give the medication is with a plastic syringe. Ensure the syringe is clean, suck the desired amount up onto the syringe and then place in your dog’s mouth. Ensure it is placed far enough back that they cannot spit it straight out and then press the plunger to release the medication into their mouth. You can gently tip their head back to encourage swallowing and give lots of praise after the dose has been given.
If your dog is not showing any signs of illness or distress, aside from the stomach complaint, then generally the symptoms pass on their own. Given this an alternative to giving human medication is to restrict their diet for a few days, offering bland food and plenty of fresh water. Even if you are using Pepto Bismol, watching their diet and eating habits for a few days can still be beneficial.
Additionally, keep their food area, bowls, and other implements such as forks used to serve and stir food clean, and avoid sharing these items between dogs. This reduces the risk of cross contamination in the event that one dog has a virus or bug. Ensure that diarrhea is cleaned up immediately, and where possible disinfect the area. And of course, give your dog lots of love and comfort.