Cats tend to be fussy eaters; they will usually not eat something that does not appeal to them, and even if they make a mistake their bodies are often quite efficient at rejecting foreign substances that don’t sit right with them. Giving them medication when they are ill, then, becomes a bit of an issue. Human medication, when given to them by their owners without prior recommendation of a vet can also be dangerous. It is easy to look at your cat’s illnesses as being very similar to your own. Indeed, the nomenclatures are unfortunately close enough to cause confusion – cat flu, feline influenza, among others. However, this does not mean that they need the same treatment.
One major issue that affects cats as much as people is issues with their digestive tracts. Many owners wonder in these latter cases whether they can give their cat Pepto-Bismol when they exhibit diarrhea, a stomach upset, or vomiting. It can be a tempting route – available easily and relatively cheap. However, it is important to recognise that a cat’s biology is not only delicate, but is different from our own. In this article, we will be looking at the various ailment a cat may face in the guise of diarrhea, stomach upsets, and indigestion, then we will be asking – “can I give my cat Pepto Bismol in any of those circumstances?”
What Is Pepto Bismol and How Is It Taken?
Pepto-Bismol, otherwise known as Bismuth Subsalicylate, is a commonly-available medicine that many people take regularly. It is commonly used as a treatment for nausea or an upset stomach, and symptoms regularly associated with hangovers. In some cases it is used to treat diarrhea. In human beings, Pepto-Bismol can be taken on a regular basis with no ill-effects.
However, it does have a strict dosage limit which will vary from person to person and situation to situation. It is orally administered, and can be self-administered or directed by a doctor. The product contains active ingredients which may make certain illnesses (such as ulcers or stomach lining damage) worse or cause serious damage. This can also happen if too much is taken. So it is fair to say that one must be careful when taking it. When wondering “can I give my cat Pepto-Bismol?”, therefore, you should be extra cautious.
Can I Give My Cat Pepto Bismol?
Traditional wisdom, which can often be confusing, notes that dogs can be given Pepto-Bismol with few worries. However, cats are very different animals indeed, and can have very different reactions. Pepto-Bismol contains Aspirin, which can be incredibly harmful to cats if given for a prolonged period of time (or in great quantities).
As stated before, dosage depends very much on the weight of the person/animal taking it. The Franklin Animal Clinic has these (note: rough estimate) guides, which specify that cats should not be taking Pepto Bismol for any longer than two days to three days.
It seems that while it can be given, it should be done so sparingly and as a last resort. Dr Marie of askavetquestion, says that while it is not harmful in small quantities, there is no foolproof application for Pepto-Bismol,
“I don’t recommend giving pepto bismol to a cat. Pepto contains salicylic acid which is aspirin which is toxic to cats. With that being said, a single small dose is not likely to have caused harm.”
In truth, once you have managed to mitigate the various pitfalls associated with giving a cat a product such as Pepto-Bismol which contains aspirin, you might find a bigger problem that still remains: actually getting them to take it. Cats won’t find either the chewable tablets or the liquid very appealing, and your biggest hurdle might be getting them to ingest either!
Stomach Issues in Cats
The fact is, if your have detected that your cat is suffering from a stomach upset, or have noticed an increase in their diarrhea or vomiting, it may be too late to use Pepto-Bismol. There are many reasons why a cat may experience these symptoms, and in many cases it can be better to seek out other forms of treatment, including those that are cat-specific. Diarrhea, stomach upsets, and vomiting in cats may be caused by any of the following:
- A Change in Diet: Cats have sensitive digestive systems (another reason to avoid Pepto-Bismol), and their stomach upsets can be triggered by a change in food. They may have eaten something that they shouldn’t have (common in stray cats or adventurous outdoors cats), or may have tried something too rich for them. Cow’s milk can also have the same negative effect on their GI (gastrointestinal) tract. Cats cannot digest lactose, which instead will sit in their intestines and ferment to potentially fatal effect. In this case, a dose of Pepto-Bismol will hinder, rather than aid their issues. Instead of adding more foreign substances, a detox will better serve them (bland food and water, as well as veterinary advice).
- Stress and Environmental Changes: Cats need not have a problem in their diet to experience stomach upsets. Stress, or the addition of another pet can cause all kinds of issues, including hair loss and indigestion. Keep an eye out for what may have caused your cat needless anxiety and what you can do to help them (i.e. – getting another scratching post or reducing loud noises)
- Hairballs: Vomiting may be indicative that your cat is trying to pass a hairball. Before you seek medical advice, keep an eye on how often your cat goes to vomit, and what comes out when they do. If a cylindrical plug of hair comes out there is no need to worry.
- Natural Passing Through Diarrhea: You can be at risk of over-diagnosing a problem, and this can represent the cats digestive system working out an issue on its own.
Final thoughts: Can I give my cat Pepto Bismol?
Owners never like to see their cats in discomfort. But, whether they have stomach upsets, diarrhea, vomiting, or other issues, one should always think before asking “Can I Give My Cat Pepto Bismol?” as there are many factors to explore beforehand. Veterinary advice should be sought at every turn, before ever turning to human medication.
This recommendation from PetEducation.com seems very sensible regarding the use of Pepto-Bismol:
“Use with extreme caution, and only under veterinary supervision in cats as it contains aspirin which may be fatal to cats. Used to treat vomiting and diarrhea caused by dietary indiscretion as it soothes the stomach and intestinal lining. If the vomiting and/or diarrhea persists for more than 48 hours; the pet has a fever, is depressed or shows abdominal pain; or the pet does not continue to be active and alert, contact your veterinarian. Further treatment may be needed. It comes in different strength formulations; follow dosage recommendations below.”