Can You Give a Dog Pepto-Bismol?

Nicole LaForest, LVT, BSc, MPH
By Nicole LaForest, LVT, BSc, MPH on Apr. 2, 2023
cocker spaniel lying on a living room floor

It’s no secret that dogs love to eat anything and everything, including things that are not necessarily good for them. If your dog has ingested something they shouldn’t have, it’s natural to reach for the medicine cabinet. But while Pepto-Bismol is a go-to aid for human stomachaches, is it safe to give to your dog?

What Is Pepto-Bismol?

Pepto-Bismol is an over-the-counter medication used to treat upset stomach, diarrhea, indigestion, heartburn, and nausea in humans. This medicine also coats the lining of the stomach and intestines to help protect against irritation caused by acid buildup. While it’s not recommended as a daily supplement, people have found success using this medication on occasion to relieve digestive issues.

The active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol is bismuth subsalicylate, which can also be effective in treating some of the same digestive issues in dogs. But before you give your dog any medication—even one considered relatively safe—it’s important to talk with your veterinarian first.

Can Dogs Have Pepto-Bismol?

When used in moderation, Pepto-Bismol isn’t toxic for dogs. In fact, it’s been found to be an effective treatment for diarrhea in dogs when given in small doses. But when Pepto-Bismol is used in excess, it can actually cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

Again, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog, as there may be other underlying issues at play. Pepto-Bismol is only recommended for mild cases of diarrhea and not for long-term or recurring problems. Chronic diarrhea could be indicative of a more severe underlying issue.

Potential Side Effects of Giving Your Dog Pepto-Bismol

Besides causing vomiting and diarrhea, giving your dog too much Pepto-Bismol can cause dehydration, liver failure, and can have serious consequences on the kidneys. Additionally, repeated use of the medication isn’t recommended because it’s been linked to gastrointestinal issues, such as ulcers. Other possible side effects include:

It’s also important to note that because bismuth subsalicylate has aspirin-like properties, it should never be given to dogs that have a clotting disorder or those taking other medications containing aspirin or salicylates without first consulting your veterinarian. Additionally, Pepto-Bismol can interfere with certain antibiotics, such as tetracycline and ciprofloxacin. Make sure you tell your vet if your dog has recently taken either of these medications.

These stipulations aside, Pepto-Bismol may be given safely to most healthy dogs with no known health problems. However, this drug should never be given to puppies younger than 12 weeks old because of their sensitive digestive systems and immature organs, or to pregnant or nursing dogs without consulting your veterinarian first.

In general, vets recommend not giving human medications (including Pepto-Bismol) to dogs unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Pepto-Bismol Dosage for Dogs

The amount of Pepto-Bismol you give your dog depends on their weight and should be determined by a licensed veterinarian or veterinary pharmacist. It’s important not to exceed the recommended dosage. The best way to find out how much Pepto-Bismol is safe for your dog is by consulting with a vet who knows your dog’s health history.

If you give your dog Pepto-Bismol and their stomach upset symptoms persist after two days or get worse, talk to your vet immediately. There may be other underlying issues causing your dog distress.

How To Help a Dog With an Upset Stomach

Pepto-Bismol isn’t necessarily the best option for treating diarrhea or an upset stomach in dogs—it depends on what is causing the discomfort in the first place. Other medications may be more effective at targeting specific causes of digestive upset, such as inflammation or infection, than this over-the-counter drug.

If your dog is experiencing an upset stomach, a bland diet of shredded chicken and white rice can help to sooth their soreness. Bone broth, pumpkin, potatoes, oatmeal, plain yogurt, eggs, and white fish may also be beneficial in getting them on the road to recovery.

If you notice signs of digestive upset in your dog, always talk to your vet before making any decisions regarding medical treatment. While Pepto-Bismol is OK for dogs in small doses, remember that this drug was formulated specifically for humans. If your vet decides Pepto-Bismol is the right medication for your dog, follow all instructions carefully and never give your pet more than the dosage recommended by the veterinarian.

Featured Image: iStock/Liudmila Chernetska

Nicole LaForest, LVT, BSc, MPH


Nicole LaForest, LVT, BSc, MPH

Veterinarian Technician

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