Pepto for Your Pooch?

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You know your dog faces tummy issues every now and again. Maybe he is moving around quite a bit, clearly uncomfortable. Maybe you have seen him try to eliminate and strain with no results. Or perhaps he is running outside quickly with diarrhea. Constipation, diarrhea, or an upset stomach can be uncomfortable and even painful. If your dog has chronic stomach issues, you will want to see your veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment. For the occasional stomach problems, you might be able to help your dog feel better at home. Bismuth subsalicylate, otherwise known as Pepto-Bismol® and Kaopectate®, could help your dog feel better.  Here’s what you need to know about treating your dog’s tummy issues at home.

Understanding the Drugs

Pepto Bismol® and Kaopectate® both contain salicylates, which is the active ingredient found in aspirin. Though dogs can take medications containing salicylates, you need to be responsible and careful with allowing your dog to take it for extended periods of time. Salicylates prohibit coagulation of blood, and over extended use could cause internal or intestinal bleeding for your dog. These drugs are typically used for temporary inflammation in the stomach or intestines. Bismuth usually coats the stomach and intestines to provide comfort. However, there is very little proof that the coating occurs and is beneficial to your dog. Though Pepto-Bismol® and Kaopectate® are available without a prescription, you should always contact your veterinarian before administering these drugs at home.

Side Effects

Pepto Bismol® and Kaopectate® are generally safe and recommended by veterinarians for the usual bout of diarrhea or constipation or stomach upset for your dog. However, if you know your dog is allergic to aspirin or other salicylates, it is recommended you do not offer these medications to assist your dog with any stomach issues. Bismuth salicylates could also interact with other medications your dog may be taking, so be sure to contact your veterinarian to ensure there will not be reactions for your dog by giving him these drugs at home with any other medications your dog may already be on. The recommended dosage is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds your dog weighs and not more than every six hours. If your dog is still feeling unwell after a few doses, stop using this medication and call your veterinarian for a checkup.

Alternatives for Temporary Problems

If your dog is experiencing stomach problems that are temporary and not long-lasting, there are a few things you can do at home before administering medications. As long as your dog is drinking water, you can have your dog fast for 12 to 24 hours to give his stomach time to heal and feel better. Many dogs who have an upset tummy will not have much of an appetite, so choosing not to feed him a meal or even a few meals will not hurt him as long as he is still drinking and urinating. When your dog is ready to eat again, you can offer him a bland diet of boiled rice and boiled chicken. These are easy to prepare meals that will help settle your dog's stomach once he begins to eat again. You can offer bland diet meals for a few days and slowly introduce your dog's regular food back into his diet by adding a little bit of his dog food into the bland diet and increase it over a few days.

Know When to Call Your Vet

Having a dog with diarrhea, constipation, or inflamed bowels can be frustrating for dog owners because we know our pups are not feeling well, we just don't always know what's wrong. If your dog stops showing interest in drinking and becomes dehydrated, you will need to see your veterinarian or an emergency vet right away for subcutaneous or intravenous hydration. If your dog's stomach issues persist, you may need to see your veterinarian to ensure your dog does not have a more serious issue such as a bacterial infection like giardia, requiring an antibiotic. Typical stomach issues should go away within a few days. Whether you choose to change your dog's diet, let your dog rest, or offer medications containing bismuth subsalicylate, your dog should not suffer for very long, and if he is not getting better within a few days please always refer to your veterinarian for advice on next steps.