Can I give my dog Imodium for diarrhea? Imodium is a synthetic opioid designed to promote constipation. This particular drug (also known as loperamide) is safe to use in SOME dogs, but not all.
Herding breeds like Australian shepherds, Shetland sheepdogs, Border Collies, German Shepherds, Corgis, and all others that fit within this breed cannot tolerate Imodium.
The problem is the MDR1 gene, a mutant gene that seriously limits this breed’s ability to breakdown the drug. When a dog ingests anything it is unable to metabolize through the kidneys or liver, the substance becomes toxic to the dog.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of whether you should give your dog Imodium or not. You’ll have a deeper understanding of underlying conditions that could be affecting your dog and when it’s time to simply get your dog to the vet.
What Side-Effects Can Occur if I Give my Dog Imodium for Diarrhea?
Any drug has side-effects, and for the most part they are mild. Some will even go away during treatment. If you are administering Imodium to your dog (please make sure your dog does not carry the MDR1 gene! See above.
Side-Effects Might Include:
- Soft Stools.
- Weight Loss.
- Bloody Diarrhea.
Do You Know What’s Causing Diarrhea in Your Dog?
There are several things that could be going on in a dog with persistent diarrhea. The best-case scenario is that it’s just a passing thing that will clear up on its own. The question, “Can I give my dog Imodium for diarrhea”, should be well thought out and addressed by a veterinarian if possible.
This YouTube video is really useful to learn more about diarrhea in dogs! It’s worth taking a few minutes to watch.
Dogs are known to gobble up things they aren’t supposed to. However, there could be any number of underlying conditions causing the problem.
In the cases noted below, treating your dog for diarrhea might stabilize the immediate problem, but does nothing to address the real problem. This is why it’s highly recommended that you seek veterinary input if your dog’s diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours.
Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs
The first thing the veterinarian will want to check for are parasites. Internal parasites like giardiasis (intestinal infection), tapeworms, whipworm, roundworm, and hookworms are all considerations.
Luckily, worms in dogs are easily treated with regular topical solutions. The trick is to keep the treatments going all year long to prevent a recurrence.
Read this review on The Prevalence of Giardiasis in Dogs
NEW FOOD OR GARBAGE MUNCHING
Other causes of diarrhea in dogs might include a sudden dietary change (has he been in the neighbor’s garbage lately?)
ANTIBIOTICS – Can I Give my Dog Imodium for Diarrhea?
Has your dog recently been prescribed an antibiotic? Antibiotics are notorious for not only destroying the bad bacteria, but taking the “good” bacteria along with it.
The natural gut enzymes become vulnerable and breakdown. This breakdown can cause abdominal pain along with constipation or diarrhea.
PANCREATITIS – Can I Give my Dog Imodium for Diarrhea?
Pancreatitis is a condition that affects middle-aged and senior dogs. It’s also common in overweight dogs and tends to befall females more than males.
Acute pancreatitis symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Not to get too personal, but I’ve experienced pretty stressful events that have left my gastrointestinal functioning a little “active”.
Dogs love routine and any sudden shift in that can cause bowel problems. Some specific things that could cause stress in your dog include a sudden move, introducing a new pet into the home, changing your dog’s diet too quickly, boarding at a kennel, or being placed in new situations.
CANCER – Can I Give My Dog Imodium for Diarrhea?
My blog is not about being an alarmist, which is why I hesitated to add this category. The reality is, if your dog is otherwise healthy and still behaving the way he/she normally does, it’s probably not cancer.
Cancer is one of those things that usually presents itself in different ways, long before serious bouts of diarrhea occur. In fact, diarrhea in dogs with cancer is more likely a side-effect of the chemotherapy more than the cancer itself.
I’m not qualified to speak with authority on the topic of cancer in dogs, but I also don’t want you to worry needlessly. Your best bet is to always check with a licensed veterinarian. A quick phone call might be all you need to get some perspective.
You might be interested in reading more about dog drug toxicity at Pet University.
Imodium Dosage for Dogs – Yes, You CAN Give Your Dog Imodium for Diarrhea
If you feel confident now in answering your question, “Can I give my dog Imodium for diarrhea?”, then you should know the appropriate dosage for dogs.
Generally speaking (and assuming you are absolutely certain your dog does not have the MDR1 gene mutation), dogs would take 0.1 mg/kg. Your veterinarian might suggest offering the drug twice a day at that strength. So, for example, a 10 pound dog would get a dose of 0.4 mg of Imodium and a 50 pound dog would get 2 mg.
Why Mixed Breeds Should be Tested for the MDR1 Gene Mutation
The reason for testing mixed breeds is because you might not be sure that there isn’t some herding DNA in your dog’s ancestry.
The first thing to do is talk to your veterinarian about having the procedure done. DNA testing typically involves either a cheek swab or a blood sample.
Most veterinarian clinics do not perform the test themselves, but they might perform the swab and send it to a lab for a fee. The veterinarian’s fee does not include the cost of the test itself.
You can also go straight to the source. There are several brands of genetic tests available for dogs, although the science may not be as precise as that of a university laboratory, for example.
Genetic testing for the sake of curiosity is fine and it’s okay to use a store-purchased testing kit.
However, if you really want to be sure of your dog’s potential risks, visit a site like Washington State University where they offer testing services.
Other Over-the-Counter Drugs that are Toxic for Dogs Include:
Tylenol – which is acetaminophen
Advil/Motrin – Ibuprofen
Aleve – naproxen
Sleeping pills designed for human use
This is just a partial list of drugs known to be toxic to animals. Always check with a licensed veterinarian when in doubt!
How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs at Home
Here are a few easy things to try at home to see if it helps ease your dog’s diarrhea.
Bland diets generally consist of foods like white rice and soft dog food combined together. Boiled chicken or turkey mixed with white rice is a good choice. The low-fat to high-protein ratio is a good choice for dogs with diarrhea.
Dogs have a sensitive digestive tract that can only handle so much. When in doubt, talk to the veterinarian. Clinics or quality pet stores usually sell food made specifically for your breed of dog, or for specific, temporary ailments like cases of diarrhea.
Some people also try baby food, specifically meat and rice products, with their dog. The trick is to not add additional fat, sugar, and fiber into the diet until the diarrhea passes.
Pepto Bismol for Dogs with Diarrhea
Pepto bismol is safe to give to dogs, provided it’s the kind that only contains bismuth subsalicylate. Bismuth subsalicylate is an antacid and antidiarrheal. The compound acts as a binding agent within the gut and is also thought to slow down motility in the gut. Serious side-effects in dogs is rare. The biggest concern with bismuth subsalicylate is that it coats the bowels and turns them black. When that happens, it’s hard to determine if there is blood in the stool.
When It’s Time to See a Licensed Veterinarian
Never let diarrhea in dogs go for longer than a couple of days and make sure your dog is drinking enough fluid. It might seem as if the fluid is going in one end and literally coming out the other, but it’s important to keep your dog as hydrated as possible. Now might be a good time to taper from the usual play or exercise routine as well.
It’s not unusual for dogs to have short-term bouts of diarrhea. The danger is when it continues over a series of days. Dehydration is a serious condition that needs to be treated properly.
You might be interested in reading about Pedialyte for dogs.
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