Q: My dog got into the trash the other day and now she won’t eat and is very lethargic. She did not have a bowel movement today. Is Pepto-Bismol safe for constipation?
A: Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth subsalicylate) is an antidiarrheal medication and is also used as a component of therapy for certain gastrointestinal bacterial infections. It is not used as a treatment for constipation. In fact, one potential side effect of its use IS constipation. One component of this drug is similar to aspirin, and dogs are relatively sensitive to the gastrointestinal side effects. Stomach and intestinal irritation may occur and significant GI bleeding can be seen in some dogs.
Although we understand your concern and desire for a quick and cost-effective solution to address your dog’s signs, Pepto-Bismol, as well as any other medication should only be given under the direct supervision of your veterinarian. It is important to realize that giving a medication in an attempt to help is not benign and could lead to serious side effects if used inappropriately.
Your dog is showing some very worrisome signs. Dogs who have gotten into the garbage may suffer from gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, or even obstruction from a foreign body–conditions which can be life-threatening if not treated appropriately. Unfortunately, no medication is going to be an adequate replacement for fluid and electrolyte therapy that is often required for many of these conditions. Additional tests that may be administered by a veterinarian include blood work, radiographs (x-rays), and an abdominal ultrasound.