Our four-footed friends often suffer from some of the same medical problems we do. They too get aches and pains, catch colds, and occasionally feel fatigued. And some even get heartburn!
Several different problems can cause your dog to suffer from heartburn (it is a symptom, not a disease), so it is always wise to visit your vet to find out the cause of your pup’s discomfort.
But assuming your vet approves: Yes, you can give your dog a Tums to help her feel better until you and your vet can get to the bottom of the problem.
Read on to learn more about doggie heartburn, it’s causes, and how Tums may help.
Key Takeaways: Can I Give My Dog Tums?
- Dogs occasionally suffer from heartburn. You can recognize this by noting symptoms like excessive saliva production, bad breath, and disinterest in food, among other things.
- You’ll want to give your vet a call first, but Tums is usually safe to give otherwise-healthy dogs, who aren’t taking any other medications.
- A variety of problems can trigger heartburn, so you’ll want to work with your vet to determine the root of the issue and devise a treatment strategy.
What Is Acid Reflux and Why Do Dogs Get It?
Heartburn is the burning sensation felt in the center of the chest or throat. It usually occurs during or shortly after eating, but it can occur at any hour of the day. Many times, a sour taste accompanies the pain.
Heartburn usually resolves on its own after a short time, but repeated bouts may damage the esophagus. While a temporary sensation, heartburn is anything but pleasant, and it causes considerable discomfort at the time.
Heartburn occurs when stomach acids and other digestive liquids rise from the stomach into the esophagus. Accordingly, doctors and veterinarians often call it acid reflux.
A number of things can cause acid reflux, including:
- The overproduction of stomach acid
- Weakness in the esophageal sphincter, which separates the stomach from the esophagus
- Improper blood-calcium levels
- Hiatal hernia
- Eating food with too much fat
- Some medications may cause acid reflux
Dogs can have upset stomachs for a wide variety of reasons, including diet (a dog food designed for sensitive stomachs may alleviate some issues), ingesting strange food or foreign objects, or a host of other medical issues.
You’ll just need to work with your vet to determine the cause, severity, and best treatment strategy for your pooch moving forward.
Symptoms of Heartburn in Dogs
Of course, to treat your dog’s heartburn, you have to recognize that she’s suffering from it in the first place.
As is often the case when trying to keep our pets healthy and happy, we must interpret their behavior to deduce what type of problem they are experiencing. Fortunately, dogs often exhibit symptoms that can pretty easily be attributed to heartburn.
Some of the most common symptoms of heartburn in dogs include:
- Regurgitation or vomiting, particularly when accompanied by coughing or production of a small amount of foamy, yellow fluid
- Signs of pain during or immediately after eating
- Repeatedly swallowing
- Reduced appetite or disinterest in food
- Weight loss
- Consistently bad breath
- Excessive salivation
- Gurgling sounds heard after eating
Of course these stomach ailments could be the result of other stomach issues as well, which is why it’s always vital to bring your pooch to the vet to assess exactly what tummy troubles are at work.
How Does Tums Help Dogs Feel Better?
Tums, along with other bland foods for upset stomachs, can go a long way towards helping your pooch perk up and feel tail-waggy again.
Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in Tums. Calcium carbonate works to raise the pH of your dog’s digestive tract, by neutralizing some of the acid present. However, some research indicates that it may also work through additional mechanisms too.
Calcium is an important mineral that is important to dog health. However, too much calcium can be dangerous and lead to health problems. Fortunately, the calcium carbonate in Tums is not, as veterinarians would say, very “bioavailable.” This means that the calcium will essentially pass through your dog’s digestive tract without being absorbed.
Some dogs experience mild constipation after taking Tums, particularly if they take a large dose (such as may occur if they get into a bottle of the stuff by accident). However, this constipation usually passes on its own, and Tums is generally not considered a dangerous drug for most dogs.
What to Expect at the Vet When Visiting for Stomach Issues
Remember: Even if Tums provide temporary relief for your dog’s tummy aches, you’ll still need to determine the underlying condition. Accordingly, a trip to the vet is in order following symptoms of heartburn – especially if they occur regularly.
Your vet will often begin by taking a detailed history of your pet. He or she will want to know what symptoms your dog has been exhibiting, the duration of the symptoms and the timing of the problems. Your vet will probably also ask about your dog’s diet, obtain an accurate body weight, and review any of her past medical conditions.
If your vet suspects that acid reflux is the culprit of your dog’s symptoms he or she may perform blood tests, and listen to your dog’s digestive tract with a stethoscope. However, it is often necessary to visualize your dog’s esophagus and stomach to determine the cause of the problem.
Veterinarians can accomplish this by using a tool called an endoscope – essentially a long, tube-like camera that can be inserted into your dog’s mouth. Usually, dogs are sedated for these procedures, so you won’t have to worry about your dog suffering through a terribly unpleasant ordeal.
After identifying the cause of your dog’s acid reflux, your vet can suggest an appropriate treatment. Some dogs may require surgery to repair a hiatal hernia, while others may require medication or other treatment options. Weight-loss may help resolve the problem for some dogs.
Many dogs will experience improvement by switching to a low-fat diet, offered in several small portions throughout the day. This will often cause the stomach to secrete less acid, thereby fixing the problem.
Special Safety Concerns for Dogs and Tums
Tums are largely considered safe, but there are a few things you must consider (besides veterinary approval) before offering them to your pet.
- Be sure to check the label for toxic ingredients. Some Tums products may be made with other medications, which may or may not be safe for your dog. Choose the standard version with no addition add-ins.
- Be aware that Tums may contain food dyes that may trigger allergies in sensitive dogs. Although the medicine may still provide value to your dog, you and your vet will have to weigh the risks against the potential rewards. For dogs with known food dye allergies, Tums relief may not outweigh the resulting allergic reactions.
- Some antacids are used to treat certain forms of kidney disease, but antacids can also may make other types of kidney disease worse. You’ll simply need to speak with your vet about the way antacids will affect your pup’s kidneys.
- As when administering any medication, extra caution is required for dogs that are pregnant or lactating. Be sure that your veterinarian is aware of your dog’s reproductive condition before providing Tums to your dog.
- Like most other medications, antacids may interact with other drugs. Always be sure your vet is aware of the medications your dog is taking.
We’d love to hear your experiences with canine heartburn in the comments below. Did your vet encourage you to administer Tums or some other antacid? What ended up being the root cause of your pup’s problem? Let us know!