Can You Give Your Cat Pepto Bismol For Vomiting?

Every cat parent knows “The Sound.” That horky, retching sound of a cat who is about to vomit can instill panic, revulsion, and fear in the best of us.

Whether your cat is about to puke on your pillow or in the toilet, nobody wants to hear that sound in the middle of the night. Although, if you hear it, at least you know it’s out there, somewhere – which is much better than finding it out by stepping barefoot into a cold puddle of upchucked kibble.

Is Pepto Bismol Suitable for Cats?

If your cat has thrown up only once, it’s not typically a matter for the veterinarian. Overeating, a sudden change in diet, stress or any number of reasons can cause a one-off puking. It’s when your cat has vomited a few times within 24 hours or once every day for a few days that you should seek treatment.

Most frugal pet owners would like to avoid paying for a veterinary exam and prescription medications if they can solve their cat’s stomach troubles at home. When you’re sick with an upset tummy, Pepto Bismol is often the medicine of choice.

It isn’t too much of a leap to wonder, “Can you give a cat Pepto Bismol for vomiting?” The simple answer to this query is: NO.

What Exactly is Pepto Bismol? 

Pepto Bismol’s active ingredient is bismuth subsalicylate. Salicylates are the family of drugs that include aspirin.

Cats’ body does not have the ability to properly metabolize salicylates. When they can’t process toxins, these can cause harmful circulating levels in their systems which can quickly lead to toxicity. Aspirin toxicity typically causes lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Signs of aspirin toxicity in your cat can come on suddenly. However, if your cat has already been ill, you may have a difficult time determining whether or not the feline has begun to suffer from toxicity or if it’s a continuation of the original illness.

If you have already given your cat Pepto Bismol, call your veterinarian immediately. If your vet is not currently open, look for a 24-hour emergency clinic in your area or call Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.

Hairballs or Not?

Pepto Bismol for cats is dangerous, but what can you do from home that is safe for kitty? First, let’s try to determine if your cat is truly vomiting or is simply passing a hairball.

Hairballs or trichobezoars are masses of indigestible matter – mostly hair – that your cat swallows while grooming. Cats’ stomachs cannot break down hairs, so they settle in the stomach waiting to pass into the intestines.

Some hairballs pass without any fanfare, but trichobezoars that are too large to pass through the intestines are coughed up in a delightful little wad of stomach juices, food particles, and old hair.

When your cat is passing a hairball, the poor kitty will likely make a loud, raspy, coughing gag sound. When producing the offending mass of hair, it will often look more like vomiting stool than hair.

Hairballs can even be coated in a brownish-yellow slime that adds to the stool-like appearance. Don’t worry, this is the typical presentation of a hairball.

If your cat coughs up an occasional hairball, it isn’t a cause for worry, especially if your cat has long hair. However, anything more than once or twice a week can be an issue and should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Prevention Against Hairballs

To prevent trichobezoars, try grooming your cat regularly. Using a brush, comb or grooming glove, remove as much loose hair as you can.

There are also flavored gel lubricating laxatives that you can give your cat such as Laxatone by Vetoquinol. These will help hairballs to pass safely before they are large enough to be coughed up.

If your cat has thrown up yellow liquid, clear liquid or undigested food, this is definitely vomiting. As stated before, an occasional puddle of vomit is not usually a cause for concern.

Other Causes for Vomiting in Cats

There are many reasons why your cat may be vomiting. Depending on the frequency and the contents of the vomit, your veterinarian can determine the most likely culprit. 

Reasons can be simple such as your cat eating too quickly or the new food is upsetting your pet’s tummy. It can also be a more serious issue such as poisoning, blockage or tumor. This is why the sudden bouts of frequent vomiting or cases of daily vomiting should be seen by professionals as soon as possible.

Home Treatment

If you would prefer to try treating kitty at home before incurring a veterinary bill, do not give your cat Pepto Bismol.

Some changes you can try first are giving your fluffy kid small, frequent feedings of a bland, low-fat diet. Chicken and rice canned foods are a good option.

A tablespoon of food every few hours can be continued as long as vomiting does not continue or return. After a few days without stomach issues, you can return to your cat’s normal diet.

Always have fresh water available to avoid dehydration. If the cat doesn’t drink often, try enticing your furry friend with a slow running tap.

If you do want to try human medication before seeking an appointment, always call your veterinarian first for an approved dosage of over-the-counter medicine. Giving your cat human medications without veterinary guidance can cause problems worse than the one you are treating.

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