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dogs and meds

A guide to milk of magnesia for dogs

What is milk of magnesia, and how can it be used to solve heartburn and constipation?

Updated September 9, 2020

Created By

Bryony Ravate,
a sad dog

tummy troubles are zero fun

Milk of Magnesia Details

Medication type: Laxative, antacid

Form: Liquid, tablet

Prescription required? OTC (but first seek approval from your vet)

FDA approved? Yes

Life stage: Puppy, adult, senior

Popular brands: Phillips, Humco

Common names: Milk of magnesia (suspension), Magnesium hydroxide, MoM

Available dosages: Varies

Expiration range: Usually on label, years

👉Always talk to your vet before introducing a new supplement into your dog’s diet

What is milk of magnesia?

Milk of magnesia (often shortened to just MoM) is a product derived from natural ingredients used in both animal and human medicine alike. Magnesium hydroxide is the core component and active ingredient of MoM and is common in antacids, a group of medicines that aid digestion and neutralize stomach acid.

When magnesium is mixed in water, it makes a milk-of-magnesia suspension. MoM is available over-the-counter and is relatively harmless with minimal side effects. The medicine is safe for human use when treating constipation and heartburn, so why shouldn’t your pup be able to use it too?

When to give your dog milk of magnesia

You should consider a trip to the vet if your dog is showing signs of gastric upset or indigestion. But the milk of magnesia may soothe symptoms of constipation and acid reflux, such as:

  • Flatulence
  • Irregular bowels
  • Difficulty passing stool
  • Misshapen or discolored stool
  • Itching around anus
  • Bleeding from anus (rare with constipation, but still possible)
  • Acid reflux/gastric reflux
  • Hard stools

Milk of magnesia can be prescribed in older dogs to ease constipation, which is difficult, infrequent or complete lack of bowel movements. Hard poop or hard stools are also a telltale sign of constipation. Pet owners may also note your dog straining to have a bowel movement.

Constipation is often caused by a poor diet, so you should also try and feed your pup dog food with high fiber, as well as plenty of water alongside any MoM you give your pup. Try and keep up an exercise regime with your pupper, too. Make sure it’s not intolerance or allergy that is causing your pup’s discomfort. Foods with high yeast and fiber content often cause gastric symptoms in intolerant dogs.

👉 Book a vet appointment if your dog often suffers from constipation to see if MoM is the right treatment for your pup.

Always seek vet assistance first

You should refrain from giving your dog any new medicines without consulting a qualified vet first, even if your dog’s symptoms match a certain diagnosis. Symptoms can often overlap in both animal and human medicine; most symptoms can be found in a wide range of illnesses. When you take your dog to the vet, you avoid giving them an inaccurate diagnosis which could further exacerbate pain and discomfort. For example, an upset stomach or sour stomach could mean many different things from minor indigestion to serious problems, so it’s best to avoid attempted diagnoses at home.

Getting to the root of the problem is always the best advice we can offer. MoM may alleviate uncomfortable symptoms, but nothing beats eliminating the core problem.

When not to administer milk of magnesia

If you have a dog that is vomiting, avoid giving MoM, and immediately contact your vet. Dogs can aspirate medications or vomit, leading to aspiration pneumonia and making them even sicker.

If your dog develops diarrhea after giving them milk of magnesia, they may be allergic or have ingested too much. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so seek medical care for your pup.

If your dog has underlying conditions, you should ask your vet if they can still take MoM. If your dog is pregnant or weaning, refrain from using MoM and use natural remedies instead (such as fruit for constipation and a low-fat low protein diet as an antacid).

There are brands of MoM that are for animal use only. Typically, these can be prescribed by a vet and might be a better choice than brands made especially for humans.

How milk of magnesia works in your dog (as an antacid)

Magnesium neutralizes acids in your dog’s stomach. The combination of both hydroxide and acidic ions creates water, helping to neutralize the stomach acid in your pup’s digestive tract. This helps reduce acid indigestion and alleviate any digestive pain your dog is experiencing.

How milk of magnesia works in your dog (as a laxative)

When it stimulates the intestines to produce water, this also helps softens hard stools and allows your pup to ‘go’, fixing mild constipation issues. MoM can also be used to reduce the ill effects of ingesting harmful substances by acting as a diluent.

Additionally, MoM can also be used externally to soothe sore skin in the form of scratches and rashes.

How to use milk of magnesia

Different brands of different MoM for animal consumption offer varying advice guidelines. One to two teaspoons of Neogen should be taken as an antacid orally every four to six hours. If using Neogen as a laxative, one to three tablespoons should be taken once daily.

Milk of magnesia is safe to give older dogs. However, milk of magnesia can interact with other medications, making them toxic, or rendering them ineffective. If your dog is on other medication, make sure to tell your vet about them. Don’t use it in conjunction with pancreatic enzymes.

MoM is safe to take, in both humans and animals. However, MoM is not a treatment or a cure, it simply alleviates symptoms temporarily. It should not be used over a long period of time, and effort should be made to treat the cause of the problem (such as poor diet).

When trying a new diet, exercise, or medicine regime, seek advice from a vet, as recommendations vary by breed/age/other conditions. And make sure to transition gradually. For example, moving from wet food to dry food should not be done in a day.