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Can You Give a Dog Pepto Bismol for an Upset Stomach? Vet-Reviewed Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Pepto Bismol Ultra Pepto Bishop

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A dog suffering from an upset stomach or diarrhea is miserable, and the dog’s owner may have to clean quite a mess if the animal does not get outside in time. You can find several products to treat humans with stomach issues, but which products are safe for canines?

With veterinary approval first, Pepto Bismol may be safe for your dog. Veterinarians recommend one teaspoon administered for every 10 pounds. However, Pepto Bismol in dogs is off license and only a temporary treatment, and it should not be given if symptoms do not improve.

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Veterinary Advice

Before giving your pet any over-the-counter medications, contact your veterinarian for advice. The dosage information on the product’s package is only intended for humans. Depending on the dog’s size, you’ll probably be using a much smaller portion for a dog. A veterinarian has access to your pet’s medical history, and some products may not be safe for dogs, especially those with pre-existing conditions. If you’re unable to use a product, your doctor can offer prescription alternatives that are safe and effective.

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The 7 Safe Over the Counter Medications for Your Dog

person giving medicine to a dog
Image By: Olya Maximenko, Shutterstock

Although numerous drugs and topical products made for humans can harm dogs, we found a few that are generally safe and inexpensive.

1. Pepto Bismol

Bismuth subsalicylate or Pepto Bismol is safe for most dogs in small doses, but most veterinarians are hesitant to prescribe it often to their patients. The salicylates in Pepto Bismol can cause gastric bleeding if administered incorrectly, and the bismuth can make it harder for vets to diagnose a severe condition like gastric bleeding. Bismuth makes feces turn black or dark green, and black stools are symptoms of bleeding. Dogs with these conditions should not take Pepto Bismol.

  • Pregnant or nursing dogs
  • Dogs with gastric bleeding
  • Dogs taking anti-inflammatory medications like Deramaxx and Rimadyl

If you have a feline with an upset stomach, do not give it Pepto Bismol. Even a tiny dose of the liquid can harm a cat because felines are sensitive to salicylates like aspirin and other aspirin derivatives. Cats that ingest salicylates can experience ulceration, anemia, and liver failure.


2. Imodium

Like Pepto Bismol, Imodium should only be given to your pet with authorization from a veterinarian. It can be dangerous in intestinal obstruction cases and dogs carrying the MDR1 gene. Imodium treats diarrhea and an upset stomach, and the active chemical in the medication is loperamide. A 2-milligram pill can be given for every 40 pounds of body weight two to three times a day. However, veterinarians recommend only administering the drug for two days. If symptoms persist, your dog will need a complete checkup and possibly prescription medications. Imodium pills can be hidden in a pill pocket for the best results since most dogs will not like the taste.


3. Pepcid AC

Pepcid AC reduces the production of gastrointestinal acids, and it may help dogs with stomach issues. Unlike the previous products, Pepcid only treats upset stomachs but will not relieve diarrhea. Pepcid should not be mixed with food and might interact with other medications, always consult your vet first.


4. Antihistamines

Some antihistamines, like Benadryl, are safe for most dogs but can cause hyperactivity or drowsiness. Before giving your dog an antihistamine, check with your doctor and carefully read the product’s label to ensure the active ingredients are not harmful. Antihistamines with decongestants can be toxic and should be avoided.


5. Steroid Gels and Creams

An insect bite can cause your dog to scratch and bite, but you can use a relief cream, gel, or spray to treat the condition. Although the products can reduce itching, the steroids can prevent a bite from healing if it becomes infected. If the bite mark does not improve after using a steroid, take your pet to the veterinarian.


6. Artificial Tears

If your dog has irritated eyes from dust or a small piece of debris, you can use artificial tears to decrease the redness and possibly flush out the foreign material. However, if the animal’s eyes do not improve, you’ll have to go to the vet to get the debris removed. The vet may give the dog prescription eye drops for recovery.


7. Neosporin

You can use Neosporin on minor cuts but be sure to clean the wound before applying the ointment. Use a bandage on the injury to keep your pup from licking the antibiotic. If your dog licks a few drops of the antibiotic, it may not cause any issues, but a larger amount can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and cause vomiting and diarrhea.

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Final Thoughts

Pepto Bismol can help your pet when it’s suffering from diarrhea, but it’s not safe to use more than a few days. Some mild cases of loose stools will improve without medications, but a dog with frequent diarrhea should promptly be taken to the veterinarian. Dogs can suffer from G.I. infections that require antibiotics to treat, and diarrhea can cause dehydration if the animals are fatigued and cannot drink enough water to keep up with the losses. Keeping your pet happy and healthy is vital, but you must use caution when administering medications designed for humans and always check with your vet first.

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Featured Image Credit: Pepto Bismol Ultra (ajay_suresh, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

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