Having tummy trouble is the worst. We humans feel powerless against nausea and the unpleasant things that go along with it. When our pups are sick, it’s enough to break our hearts. If you find yourself caring for a pup with a stomach bug, you may wonder what you can give him to alleviate the symptoms and make him feel better. Can you give your dog OTC human medicines? Let’s take a look at what you might have on hand and how it can be administered.
Human OTC GI Meds That Are Considered Safe for Dogs
There are a few OTC human medications that are considered safe to treat common GI problems in dogs. Of course, you will want to consult with your veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog, especially for the first time. Also, just as you would for yourself, if symptoms persist you should take your dog to the vet.
Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate), Imodium (loperamide), and Pepcid (famotidine) are all generally considered safe for canine use with the appropriate dose and prior consultation with your dog’s veterinarian.
Common GI Symptoms in Dogs
Dogs get upset tummies for an endless number of reasons. Their curiosity, foraging drive, and occasional desire to roll in or eat something really disgusting sometimes leads to illness. When our dogs get into something nasty, become overexcited, experience nervousness, or get car sick this occasionally leads to a solitary vomiting episode. One upchuck does not require medication. Your pup will probably act as if nothing at all has happened and carry on as usual. However, if your dog gets sick and then acts sluggish and is not interested in food, you may consider using Pepto-Bismol to soothe the upset tummy.
The same approach should be used if your dog has diarrhea. If your dog has watery stool, keep an eye on things first. One episode of diarrhea means she probably got whatever upset her intestines out and will be fine without any intervention. If she is constantly going out with a sense of urgency, has multiple uncharacteristic accidents, and seems to be experiencing cramps or spasms in the intestines, you should call your vet and ask if Imodium is an okay medication for your pup.
Pepcid works to reduce stomach acid and is often prescribed by vets to treat ulcers and other conditions related to stomach acid build up. It’s not recommended to treat your dog with Pepcid unless he has been diagnosed with a relevant condition and prescribed its use by a veterinarian.
How to Give Your Dog the Right Dosage of OTC Medication
Generally speaking, the appropriate dose of medication to give your dog is dependent on weight. If you have a puppy, older dog, pregnant or nursing dog, or your pup is on other medications, the recommended dose may differ from the general guidelines. You should always talk to your vet before administering any medication to your dog.
- Pepto-Bismol: Dosage is one teaspoon for every 10 lbs, every 6-8 hours. If problem persists after a few doses, call your vet. Administer with a medication syringe, gently squeezing the liquid into your dog’s mouth and holding his snout closed until he swallows it. Pepto-Bismol or generic medications that contain bismuth subsalicylate should not be given to dog’s who take anti-inflammatory drugs so again, please consult your vet before administering this or any medication.
- Imodium: With your vet’s approval, give one 2-mg pill for each 40 pounds, 2-3 times per day. Pill can be given to your furry friend inside a bit of food, such as cheese, or tucked into a pill pocket. Do not give this medication longer than two days. Call your vet if your dog is not well within a couple of days.
- Pepcid: Should be given only under veterinarian orders to treat conditions related to excess stomach acid. The recommended dose is one 10-mg pill for every 20 pounds every 12 to 24 hours. The American Kennel Club says to be sure to buy the original Pepcid, not the Maximum Strength or Complete formulations as they contain higher amounts of the active ingredient and other ingredients not recommended for dogs.
Pepcid is trickier in terms of dosing your dog as giving it with food decreases the efficacy. You have to place the pill in the back of your dog’s mouth, hold his snout, and rub the throat to get him to swallow the pill down. If you’ve never done it, it can be hard at first but with patience and practice you will persevere.
Potential Side Effects with OTC Human GI Medications
Side effects are possible with any medication so observe your dog after taking the medicine, especially after the first time you give it to your beloved baby. There are rare cases of serious side effects, which is why discussing their use with your vet is so important.
After giving your dog Pepto-Bismol, do not be alarmed if his tongue or stool is a very dark purple or black color. This happens with some people and dogs after taking the pink stuff and is not a cause for concern. However, if this continues it may actually be blood in the stool and should be discussed with a vet. Constipation is commonly reported as well.
Imodium can also lead to constipation if it overcorrects your dog’s intestines. It stops the runs by absorbing the water in the intestinal tract and naturally, this can lead to a clogged up system later. Give your pup plenty of water to remain hydrated and help get his system rebalanced. Your dog may also become fatigued, gassy, or super sleepy.
Pepcid commonly makes dogs lethargic with a loss of appetite. If you’ve given your dog too much Pepcid they may be restless, have a fast heart rate, vomit, or even collapse. Get your dog to a vet right away if they exhibit any of these side effects after taking Pepcid.
It’s never fun for you or your baby when he’s sick to his stomach. The next time your pup has tummy trouble, ask your vet if any of these OTC meds made for people can be used to alleviate his symptoms.