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Can I Give My Dog Pepto-Bismol for an Upset Stomach?

Pepto Bishop

Unfortunately, our furry four-legged friends can’t communicate their feelings in the same ways that we can as humans. So, if your dog has an upset stomach, it may take a bit of detective work to track it down as the culprit.

Some breeds have sensitive stomachs, some dogs have diet restrictions, and often puppies won’t be able to eat certain foods. So to say, it’s not uncommon for a dog to get an upset stomach and it’s important to know what to do when it happens. So, what about Pepto-Bismol? Can you give it to your dog to aid with stomach issues?


Can You Give Dogs Pepto-Bismol?

Yes, you can give your dog Pepto-Bismol for an upset stomach. Pepto-Bismol or “Pepto” as we often refer to it, is known for its bright pink color and contains the active ingredient bismuth subsalicylate. It was originally created to treat babies suffering from diarrhea.

It’s even sometimes prescribed by vets for dogs suffering from acid reflux, diarrhea, or a Helicobacter infection. Many dog experts agree that Pepto can help soothe upset stomachs, relieve diarrhea, and significantly reduce gas in pets. Pepto has also been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), unlike many common OTC drugs.

It helps to follow up with your vet after administering Pepto to your dog (or before if your dog has digestive issues) to get a recommendation on future doses. However, many vets recommend administering 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds in the dog’s weight. So for example, if your dog weighs 5 pounds, you’ll only want to give it 1/2 teaspoon of the solution.

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What Causes Stomach Upset in Canines?

There are several everyday foods and plants that can cause stomach upset in canines. Many of which may even seem harmless–but they’re not. The below foods and factors can quickly leave your dog feeling nauseous, vomiting, gassy, or with a stomach upset so be sure to keep your pup away from these food items.


grapes and raisins
Image Credit: Zb89V, Shutterstock

Though tasty to humans and dogs, grapes and raisins are actually harmful to the digestive and urinary systems in dogs. Different dogs respond differently to raisins than they do grapes. But dogs can develop kidney disease from raisins, grapes, and sultanas.

Raisins specifically can even cause fatalities in canines, so be sure to keep them away from your pup. Within 24 hours of eating grape or raisin-based products, symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and loss of appetite.

Poisonous Plants

Peace lily closeup
Image Credit: ignartonosbg, Pixabay

Dogs are naturally curious, and some plants will attract their attention because they simply smell tasty or appear to be food. But there are many plants that can cause poisoning in dogs, and many will also cause issues with cats and other pets. Many of these plans are common houseplants. So, before you plan your indoor garden or room decor, be sure to note which ones may be hazardous to your dog.

Here are some of the most dangerous plans to note:
  • Cyclamen
  • Mistletoe
  • giant Dracaena
  • Thorn apple
  • Dumbcane
  • Oleander
  • English Ivy
  • Peace lily
  • Lily of the valley

Abrupt Food Changes

labrador retriever dog eating its food from a bowl
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

You can also cause an upset stomach if you introduce a new diet to your dog too fast. If your dog is already sensitive to food (or is a puppy), switching its diet cold turkey could cause stomach upset, diarrhea or vomiting. If this occurs, switch back to the old food until it’s feeling better.

And it helps to check with your vet to rule out possible sensitivities. Then, you can slowly transition your dog’s food again once it’s feeling better. Slow transitions allow your dog to give your pup time to adjust to the new food and produce the right stomach enzymes.

Coffee and Chocolate

chocolate bars piled up
Image Credit: Enotovyj, Pixabay

Chocolate and coffee both contain caffeine, something that doesn’t necessarily pair well with a canine’s system. The high levels of caffeine in coffee beverages and beans can send a dog’s nervous and cardiovascular system (especially their heart) into overdrive–which can be fatal. Also, chocolate contains theobromine (a compound toxic to pets) and caffeine (a compound toxic to pets).

These compounds can alter cellular processes and stimulate the central nervous system as well as the heart muscles. Common symptoms of chocolate or coffee poisoning include restlessness, urinary incontinence, excessive thirst, and vomiting. These symptoms will often appear within just two to four hours of ingestion, so it’s best to take your dog to the nearest vet clinic as soon as possible.


red wine
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

Sometimes dogs will take a sip of your wine or Margherita when you leave the room or aren’t looking. Alcoholic drinks and unexpected sources (such as mouthwash) can cause alcohol poisoning. Dogs can become poisoned by alcohol if they ingest rotten apples, perfume, paint, hand sanitizer, and uncooked bread.

Yes, even uncooked bread has enough alcohol to significantly harm a dog if it ingests it. Ethanol (aka “ethyl alcohol” or “grain alcohol”) is absorbed very quickly from a dog’s intestines and reaches the brain just like it does in humans.  As a result, the dog will quickly show slowness in movement control, lethargy, and elevated body temperatures within an hour. Your dog can even go into a coma or have a very slow breathing rate.

Macadamia Nuts

macadamia nuts
Image Credit: sunnysun0804, Pixabay

Macadamia may seem harmless. But even small amounts of them can make your canine really sick. Though fatality is rare, even as little as 2 grams can cause dogs to exhibit poisoning symptoms in a matter of hours. Common symptoms include shakiness, weakness, stiffness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Although macadamia nut poisoning is not a common condition, it has been reported in more than 80 cases in certain parts of Australia in the past five years, where macadamia nut cultivation has grown in recent years.

Xylitol (Artificial Sweetener)

bowl of Xylitol
Image Credit: morisfoto, Shutterstock

Products sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as xylitol are the next most toxic food for pets. Because of its antibacterial properties, Xylitol can also be found in dental products for pets and people.

Symptoms of xylitol-related poisoning can occur within 25-60 minutes after ingestion. These symptoms include hypoglycemia, seizures, vomiting, inability to control body movements, and lethargy.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives

onions and garlics
Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

Dogs can become sick from garlic, onions, chives, and other allium vegetables. The reason for this is that these particular vegetables contain organosulfides which are compounds found in common ingredients. Organosulfides can be converted to complex mixtures of sulfur compounds when dogs chew them.

This can lead to issues with the dog’s cardiovascular system. Even a small amount of onion can cause blood problems in both cats and dogs. Even after being dried or cooked, onions and other Allium plants still contain the toxic compounds that can cause them.

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When to Take Your Dog to a Veterinarian?

Your dog may have diarrhea if it’s vomiting, has stopped eating, or is lethargic. Diarrhea can become serious and potentially life-threatening if water or electrolytes aren’t replenished fast enough. A bout of diarrhea in a small canine should be reported to the vet immediately if your dog weighs less than 20 pounds, as smaller dogs can easily become dehydrated.

Also, if the dog doesn’t seem to be getting any better after you administer Pepto-Bismol, it’s best to take a trip to the doctor. They can take a look at your pup’s symptoms and recommend the best treatment and follow-up plan.

close up of french bulldog dog being held by veterinarian doctor at vet clinic
Image Credit: Hryshchyshen Serhii, Shutterstock

Best Home Remedies for Upset Stomach In Dogs

Let’s take a look at a few other ways to help relieve your dog’s upset stomach.

Bone Broth

Sometimes your dog may not have an appetite at all, but it should still have some fluids, especially if it’s vomiting or has diarrhea. Plain chicken bone broth is a great way to keep your dog hydrated and is known to help ease a sore stomach.

Although it may be time-consuming and laborious to make, it’s well worth it. You can also buy regular bone broth from the grocery store. The broth will prevent the pup from becoming dehydrated due to diarrhea or vomiting.

Slippery Elm Bark

Slippery Elm Bark is the inner bark of Red Elm trees. It’s rich in tannins, which help to reduce inflammation. It’s also high in mucilage, which can soothe a dog’s irritated digestive system. This slimy and thin substance, when mixed with water, coats the pup’s stomach and intestines, providing relief from many gastrointestinal conditions.

Soft Bland Food

A temporary soft food diet that includes boiled chicken and plain white rice may also help keep your dog’s tummy from becoming upset. You can give your dog super-lean hamburgers, ground chicken, or a small serving of sweet potatoes to soothe her digestive system until it returns to normal appetite and bowel movements. If your dog is suffering from an upset stomach but still has an appetite, try easily digestible food for about 2-4 days to see if it helps.


Wrapping Things Up

Dogs can have Pepto-Bismol for stomach upset. It can help with nausea, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. However, you should only use the recommended amount, or any amount stated by your vet. Afterward, be sure to closely monitor your dog for signs of improvement or a worsening condition. If symptoms don’t seem to be getting better, a vet visit is recommended.


Featured Image Credit: Pepto Bishop – ajay_suresh, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic

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