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A golden retriever lays on a bed and looks into the camera in The Dig's article about not giving Pepto-Bismol to dogs

Health & Wellness

Can dogs have Pepto-Bismol?

It’s probably not the best option for your pup

No matter how much you monitor your pup, sometimes they still have the ability to sniff out even the smallest bits of food. Whether they gobble down something off of the street or grab a snack off of the counter, we can’t always intervene when our dogs eat things that can cause diarrhea or upset stomachs. Pepto-Bismol may help ease your uneasy stomach, but you shouldn’t give it to your pup — especially without talking to your vet. Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, shares why.

Causes of upset stomach and diarrhea in dogs

Dogs can experience stomach pain or diarrhea for a number of reasons, but the most common causes of these conditions are: 

  • A sudden change in your dog’s diet
  • Stress
  • Allergies 
  • Eating unsafe or unfamiliar items (like garbage) 
  • Parasites 
  • Bacterial infections 
  • Viral infections
  • Inflammatory bowel disease 
  • Toxins 
  • Drugs 
  • Endocrine diseases like Addison’s disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer
  • Intestinal obstruction

There are some symptoms that signal your dog may be experiencing diarrhea or an upset stomach. Watch out for the following signs if you think something is off with your pup: 

  • Soft or loose stool (which may include blood or mucus)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting

Can you give a dog Pepto-Bismol? 

Pepto-Bismol, which is an antidiarrheal medication that’s commonly used to help peoples’ stomachaches, shouldn’t be given to dogs unless your veterinarian gives you the green light to do so. Similar to ibuprofen and Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol’s side effects can be harmful to dogs and include gastrointestinal ulcers. 

Contact poison control or your veterinarian if your pup accidentally ingests Pepto-Bismol, especially if they have a negative reaction. 

How to treat a dog with diarrhea

Always talk to your veterinarian to determine the cause of your pup’s diarrhea and discuss the right treatment options. If your vet gives you the OK to give your dog Pepto-Bismol, it’s important to have a pet emergency preparedness plan in place, so you can act fast if they have a negative reaction to the medication. Here are some quick tips to get you started: 

  • Write down the address and phone number of your nearest animal emergency room.
  • Post the Pet Poison Helpline number (855-764-7661) in a convenient location and save the number to your phone’s contact list.
  • Keep a pet first aid kit in your car and house.
  • Organize and have all of your pet’s medical records and vaccination information handy. 

When it comes to treating diarrhea or an upset stomach in dogs, there are safer alternatives than Pepto-Bismol. Your vet may suggest the following treatment options: 

  • Serving your pup a bland diet like boiled chicken and white rice 
  • Alternative over-the-counter medications that help with nausea

Stomach issues and diarrhea get in the way of our pup’s ability to play, enjoy treats and feel comfortable. And we know that you want to do everything possible to make them feel better. If your dog experiences these conditions, talk to your veterinarian about finding the right solution so they can start to feel good again. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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Photo by Conner Baker on Unsplash

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