Can You Give a Dog Pepto Bismol?
Whenever people experience stomach upset, most of them will always reach for Pepto Bismol. This is a medication that can provide relief for a number of stomach and gastrointestinal discomforts. Because Pepto Bismol is an over-the-counter drug, some pet parents also give the medication to their pet dogs with tummy upset. However, is it safe to give a dog Pepto Bismol?
A Closer Look at Pepto Bismol
Before you start asking about Pepto Bismol for dogs dosage, it is important to learn more about this drug. Pepto Bismol is a brand of antacid that contains the active ingredient known as “bismuth subsalicylate”. Because this is a brand or trade name, there are other medications that can contain the same ingredient. These can include Castro-Cote, Bismatrol, and Kaopectate, among others.
However, one should be cautious when interchanging these brands. While they all contain the same active ingredient, they may have different formulations. One brand may have a higher concentration of the active ingredient than the others. In such cases, the therapeutic effects may also be different.
Pepto Bismol and the other medications that contain bismuth subsalicylate are a class of antacids. While the FDA classifies it as an antacid, its mechanism of action is that of an anti-inflammatory medication. It also possesses bactericidal activity.
In most clinical applications, however, the principal indication of Pepto Bismol is in the management of hyperacidity. Doctors also recommend it in the management of diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and stomach upset. It is for this reason that some pet owners also use Pepto Bismol for dogs diarrhea and other gastrointestinal complaints.
In the stomach, bismuth subsalicylate undergoes hydrolysis. This produces salicylic acid and bismuth oxychloride.
Bismuth oxychloride forms a protective barrier on the lining of the digestive tract. This protects the walls of the stomach from the corrosive effects of gastric acids. At the same time, bismuth also binds toxins and other harmful substances that are responsible for diarrhea. Many of these toxins come from the bacteria known as Escherichia coli. Bismuth acts like a magnet that attracts these toxins so that they will no longer irritate the intestinal lining. This puts an end to the passage of loose, watery stools.
Bismuth oxychloride also stimulates the absorption of electrolytes and fluids through the intestinal wall. Since more water gets absorbed through the intestinal wall, there is less chance of producing watery stools. This can also aid in the management of diarrhea.
Bismuth oxychloride is also a type of heavy metal that can contribute to the bactericidal action of salicylic acid. This is a substance that is toxic to certain species of microorganisms. They can also inhibit the growth and multiplication of Helicobacter pylori. This is the kind of bacteria that is often implicated in ulcers.
- Salicylic Acid
The salicylic acid component of Pepto Bismol exerts a different mechanism of action. This is a type of salicylate that is similar to aspirin. This allows the molecule to prevent the action of the enzyme called prostaglandin G/H synthase 1/2. This enzyme facilitates the production of prostaglandins in the digestive tract. This results in irritation and inflammation of the stomach and the walls of the intestines. Because salicylic acid inhibits the secretion of a prostaglandin enzyme, this leads to a reduction in inflammation.
Salicylic acid also has an effect on the bacteria that reside in the gastrointestinal tract. Together with other subcomponents, these compounds can exert their bactericidal action on susceptible microorganisms in the digestive tract. An example of this is the enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli. This leads to a reduction in inflammation.
When used in dogs in the correct dosage, Pepto Bismol can:
- Calm the stomach and intestines
- Reduce the severity of diarrhea
- Alleviate other gastrointestinal complaints like vomiting and indigestion
Is Pepto Bismol Safe for Dogs?
Some pet parents ask if Pepto Bismol for dogs vomiting or any other digestive complaint is a good idea. In general, Pepto Bismol and other bismuth salicylate brands are safe to give to dogs. However, one should never give it to his or her pet without asking a veterinarian’s advice first. There are a number of issues that pet parents have to be concerned about when giving Pepto Bismol to their dog.
- Black Stools
First and foremost, Pepto Bismol can produce black stools in your dog. This is not a problem in itself. However, some pet parents may interpret it as melena. This refers to black, tarry stools that are indicative of upper digestive tract bleeding. Pepto Bismol produces melena-like stools because of the interaction between bismuth subsalicylate and trace amounts of salivary sulfur. This reaction produces bismuth sulfide. This compound is not soluble. As such, it passes through the small intestines and the colon unchanged. This gives the stool its blackish color.
- Risk of Bleeding
Second, there is the real risk of gastrointestinal bleeding because of the salicylic acid component of Pepto Bismol. Salicylates can block the action of cyclooxygenase-1. This is an enzyme that is responsible for maintaining the condition of the lining of the stomach. When salicylic acid inhibits the action of this enzyme, the stomach lining no longer gets the kind of protection that it needs. This can lead to gastric irritation and bleeding.
Unfortunately, because one of the effects of Pepto Bismol is the production of black stools, it will be very difficult to determine if your dog already has an active bleeding in its gastrointestinal tract. That is why veterinarians are very cautious when it comes to giving Pepto Bismol to dogs. It is also for this reason that pet parents should always seek the advice of their respective veterinarians before giving any form of Pepto Bismol to their dog.
Because Pepto Bismol can produce an insoluble substance, this can produce constipation in the dog. Also, one of the effects of bismuth oxychloride is the better absorption of water and electrolytes in the intestines. This results in a more solid fecal matter. In turn, this can contribute to constipation in your dog.
Giving Pepto Bismol to Dogs
As mentioned, it is important to adhere to the recommendations of your veterinarian whenever giving Pepto Bismol to your dog. While it is safe and effective, Pepto Bismol can also pose some health concerns. Knowing the right Pepto Bismol for dogs dosage is crucial. This is to help maximize the therapeutic benefits of the drug, while minimizing its side effects.
This drug is available in chewable tablets and liquid formulations. There are also different formulations. For example, there is Pepto Bismol that contains 262 mg of bismuth subsalicylate for every 15 mL. There is also a 262 mg chewable tablet and a 525 mg/15 mL formulation. There are those for children and another with an extra-strength formulation. These will give you different strengths of bismuth subsalicylate. That is why it is critical to follow the dosage recommendations of the veterinarian.
In general, dogs can receive 8.5 milligrams of bismuth subsalicylate for every pound of a dog’s body weight.
If your dog weighs 15 lbs, then it is safe to administer 127.5 milligrams of Pepto Bismol. Divide the dosage into 3 to 4 doses. If you decide to give Pepto Bismol every 8 hours, then you need to give your dog 42.5 milligrams of bismuth subsalicylate. If your veterinarian recommends giving the drug every 6 hours, then you need to administer 31.875 milligrams of bismuth subsalicylate.
A single chewable tablet of Pepto Bismol can contain 262 milligrams of bismuth subsalicylate. Giving your dog this chewable tablet may not be ideal. It would be difficult to approximate 42.5 mg from the 262 mg chewable tablet.
It is still possible to give Pepto Bismol chewable tablets. This is if your dog meets the minimum weight requirement for the tablet. To administer a chewable tablet of Pepto Bismol for dogs vomiting, you can use a pill pocket to hide the tablet from your pet. You can also use plain chicken or any other unseasoned food. This will help ensure that your dog will swallow the pill.
Because of the relative difficulty in administering solid oral formulations, it is better to give Pepto Bismol in liquid formulations. Use the liquid formulation that contains 262 mg of bismuth subsalicylate for every 15 mL. This will give you a final dose of 17.5 mg per mL. Using this formulation, you can give your pet dog a teaspoon of Pepto Bismol for every 10 pounds of its body weight.
In our example above, your 15-lb dog should receive one and a half teaspoons of Pepto Bismol. You can give half a teaspoon of Pepto Bismol for dogs diarrhea once every 8 hours.
You can also use a needleless syringe to make it a lot easier to administer the drug to your dog. Open your pet’s mouth and place the needleless syringe on the back of the dog’s tongue. Push the plunger of the syringe to introduce the drug in its mouth. Close the dog’s mouth and hold its muzzle for a few seconds. This will help make sure that your pet swallows the drug.
If you do not see any improvement in your dog’s diarrhea after 3 to 4 doses, it is best to discontinue with the treatment. Seek advice from your veterinarian. If he tells you to continue with the medication, then you can continue giving Pepto Bismol to your pet. Otherwise, he may provide you with another alternative.
Types of Dogs that You Should Never Give Pepto Bismol To
While safe for dogs, there are certain dogs that should never receive Pepto Bismol.
- Pregnant or Lactating Dogs
Nobody knows the effects of bismuth subsalicylate on pregnant dogs or on dogs that are nursing their puppies. It may be safe or unsafe. Because of this uncertainty, it is best to withhold the drug and opt for safer, more natural treatments. One can still give Pepto Bismol to these kinds of dogs, provided you have the go signal of the veterinarian.
- Dogs with Sensitive Tummies
Canines with “weak” stomachs should never receive Pepto Bismol or any other drug that contains bismuth subsalicylate. The stomach of these dogs can get irritated very easily. Instead of providing relief from its digestive complaints, Pepto Bismol can worsen them.
- Dogs with Underlying Medical Conditions
Pets with bleeding disorders should never receive Pepto Bismol. The salicylate content of this drug can reduce the protective lining of the stomach. This can worsen the bleeding tendencies of the dog, resulting in hemolytic anemia and weakness. Dogs with platelet disorders or clotting disorders should also not receive such a medicine. Pepto Bismol can also worsen these conditions.
That is why consulting with a veterinarian before giving any medication is crucial. Veterinarians can perform a comprehensive evaluation of your dog’s health status. He can determine if there are any medical conditions that are absolute contraindications to the drug.
- Dogs with Allergies
Pets that are hypersensitive to salicylates like aspirin should also not receive Pepto Bismol. While subsalicylate is not aspirin, it is still considered as a member of the salicylate family. There may also be some dogs that are reactive to other ingredients in the Pepto Bismol formulation.
- Dogs Receiving Other Medications
There are some drugs that can have a significant interaction with bismuth subsalicylate. In general, the concomitant administration of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can increase the risk of bleeding. If your dog is also receiving the antidepressant drug Duloxetine or Sertraline, this can increase the dog’s bleeding tendencies.
If your dog has a heart disease, there is a chance that it is also on digoxin therapy. This drug works to improve the strength of heart contractions while also regulating the heart rate. If you give Pepto Bismol to a dog that is on digoxin therapy, the drug may potentiate the effects of digoxin. This can put undue stress on the dog’s heart.
You can give Pepto Bismol to a dog that has indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, or any other form of gastrointestinal complaint. However, it is very important to ask your veterinarian for the correct Pepto Bismol dosage for dogs. This will help minimize any potential side effects that can undermine the therapeutic effectiveness of the drug.