When we experience a bout of heartburn or stomach pains, most of us grab a bottle of Tums for relief. These small chewable tablets act as an antacid to provide relief. Because of their effectiveness in humans, many dog owners wonder if they can give their canine companion a dose, too.
Dogs experience stomach issues all the same. But they don't have the luxury of accessing over-the-counter medicines whenever they are feeling down. Most do their best to hide their symptoms, forcing owners to use their better judgment to understand what's going on!
So, let's settle this once and for all: Can I give my dog Tums?
What is Tums and How Does It Work?
Before we analyze the safety of Tums for canines, it's good to know what the medicine actually is!
Tums is an antacid. Basically, this means that it contains compounds that will neutralize stomach acid. The environment inside your gut, as well as your dog's gut, is already quite acidic. However, certain foods can raise acidity levels even more.
Ever experience heartburn after eating spicy foods? That's because you raised acidity levels in your belly!
When this happens, those acids back up into your esophagus. The results are a burning sensation in your throat. What you're really experiencing is acid reflux. Heartburn is just the symptom!
Tums works to neutralize those acids a bit. To do that, Tums has three active ingredients. They include calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, and sodium bicarbonate. All those ingredients work together to lower acidity and provide some relief.
Can Dogs Experience Acid Reflux and Heartburn?
Believe it or not, heartburn is a very real thing that many dogs have to deal with! Most veterinarians refer to it as acid reflux instead, but the effects are just the same as they are in humans.
Acid reflux is caused by many different things. As mentioned earlier, it's a symptom rather than a disease. Typically, dogs will suffer from acid reflux because of weakness in the esophageal sphincter, overproduction of stomach acid, hernias, and overall obesity.
Certain foods, such as those that are high in fat, can be to blame as well. Even certain medications have been known to cause acid reflux as a side effect.
The feeling of heartburn can plague your dog at any time. Usually, it happens during a meal or shortly thereafter. You might see your dog avoiding food or showing signs of distress.
In severe cases, they may start to regurgitate food, produce excess saliva, or have breath that wreaks of acid. If the problem persists, long-term issues, such as weight loss, can creep up, too.
Are Tums Safe for Dogs?
We're happy to say that Tums is relatively safe for dogs. With the proper dosage, it can provide some temporary relief for your canine companion.
That said, Tums aren't the best thing you can give your pooch. It can present a handful of issues.
Tums work wonders in humans. But, you have to remember that your dog's stomach is much different than your own! Your dog can chow down on bones and raw meat without missing a beat! That's because their stomachs are more acidic than our own.
Not only that, but they process foods faster. The calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, and sodium bicarbonate will provide some short-term relief. But, most of those ingredients are wasted on your dog!
The calcium, in particular, isn't as bioavailable to dogs. This means that most of it will just pass through your pup's system rather than being absorbed.
Potential for Allergic Reactions
Another big problem is the risk of allergic reactions. Eating the basic ingredients alone isn't exactly appetizing for humans. So, antacid manufacturers will add flavors, scents, and colors to make it more palatable.
If you go above and beyond to find the best dog food for your furry friend, you already know that additives like that are a big no-no! Chemical additives have to place in your dog's diet. They could cause allergic reactions that just cause more problems than the antacid solves.
If you do plan on giving your dog Tums, make sure it's free of the harmful stuff!
Speaking of harmful stuff, some antacids have ingredients that are outright toxic to dogs. The biggest offender is xylitol.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that's commonly found in candies, chocolate, and flavored medicines!
Dogs cannot eat xylitol. It has the potential to be lethal. So, make sure that any Tums you provide are free and clear of it.
High Calcium Levels
Calcium carbonate is one of the active ingredients in Tums and off-brand antacids. While calcium is a safe and necessary mineral for dogs, too much of it can cause some problems.
This is especially true in puppies. Excess calcium can lead to severe bone and development problems.
A small dose here and there isn't a huge cause for concern. But if you rely on Tums frequently, your dog will suffer.
What is the Proper Tums Dosage?
Thinking of giving your dog some quick relief with Tums? First, scrutinize that ingredient's list and make sure it doesn't have any of the harmful additives we went over earlier.
If your antacid is good to go, you can start figuring out the proper dosage. Dogs will process the Tums pretty quickly, so you need to provide a relatively large dose to ensure that it's effective.
Can All Dogs Safely Eat Tums?
For the most part, a healthy adult dog will have no problems with Tums. But, risks can increase with certain factors.
Never give a puppy or pregnant dog Tums. The excess calcium poses too much of a risk.
You should also avoid giving Tums to dogs with existing medical conditions or those that are consuming other medications regularly. Tums may interact with health issues and prescription drugs.
Are Tums Safe for Regular Use?
While healthy for the occasional heartburn issue, you should never rely on Tums in the long-term. Repeatedly giving your pup antacids can lead to a host of health problems.
There are far better alternatives out there! Speak to your vet and see what kinds of solutions are best for your pup.
A vet can rule out any potential health issues that are causing acid reflux. Plus, they can recommend better diets to provide natural relief.
Bland diets are great for controlling acid reflux flareups. The same goes for high-fiber ingredients, probiotics, and more. Your vet may also recommend a specific type of medication that's more effective than Tums made for humans.
No one likes to deal with heartburn; dogs included! Tums are a great thing to have on hand. In most cases, they are perfectly safe for dogs to eat. But, a supply of Tums should only be a one-off thing. It's much better to rely on dog-safe alternatives.
Better yet, address the underlying cause of your dog's heartburn!
Tums are fine for short-term relief. But if you want to deal with those acid-reflux problems, you'll need to switch to an anti acid reflux diet and make some lifestyle changes. Only then can your pup be free of heartburn for good!