As pet owners, you always want what’s best for you four-legged friends – and wanting to help your beloved pooch when he’s sick with diarrhea is only natural. However, it’s important to know the best ways to alleviate his symptoms and understand how certain remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications work, as well as the dangers of treating your dog without consulting your trusted veterinarian first.
This article will discuss the potential side effects and positive outcomes of Imodium in the instance that your vet recommends this common over-the-counter medication for your dog.
What Is Imodium?
Frequently used by humans to treat occasional bouts of diarrhea, Imodium (generically known as Loperamide) works by slowing the contractions within the intestines. This synthetic opioid is a non-addictive narcotic that decreases the motility of food through the digestive tract in dogs as well as humans. When your dog has diarrhea, it is the result of food moving too rapidly through his intestines (referred to as hypermotility), preventing nutrient and water absorption and leading to the tell-tale signs of this unpleasant condition, including frequent loose bowel movements, severe indigestion, and dehydration.
Treating Your Dog With Imodium: Proceed With Caution
Although it may seem like a perfectly safe treatment for your miserable pal, there are a number of reasons why Imodium may not be the best option unless expressly advised by your family vet. Therefore, it’s always advised to contact your dog’s physician before giving him any medication whatsoever, whether it’s an over-the-counter treatment specifically formulated for dogs or a prescription medication.
Here are several reasons to think twice before administering Imodium to your dog:
The Cause Of Your Dog’s Diarrhea Is Undetermined
There are a variety of reasons why your dog may have diarrhea or a loose bowel movement, so knowing why he’s sick is crucial to identifying the appropriate treatment. From something as simple as eating spoiled food to an indication of an underlying health condition, only your vet can determine the root cause of your dog’s tummy troubles.
While it may be tempting to give your dog an over-the-counter medication such as Imodium, it can not only be the wrong treatment, but actually worsen his condition. Therefore, if your dog’s diarrhea appears chronic or recurring, bring your dog to the vet’s office as soon as possible to figure out the cause of his illness and identify the best course of therapy.
Your Dog’s Diarrhea May Be Necessary
Whether it applies to humans or dogs, diarrhea is the body’s natural way of eliminating toxins from our digestive systems. Unfortunately, dogs are more prone to this condition, since they are apt to engage in many unsanitary behaviors and bacteria-laden situations (such as eating off the floor and consuming fecal matter or garbage), as well as being at risk of exposure to infectious illnesses such as canine parvovirus from other animals.
Keeping this in mind, it’s often best to let nature take its course and keep your dog as hydrated as possible during occasional cases of diarrhea – by giving him Imodium, you are actually preventing his body from detoxifying. If your dog’s diarrhea is persistent, make an appointment to see his vet.
Your Dog’s Breed May Not Tolerate Imodium
Because your dog’s breed may be susceptible to a bad reaction to Imodium, it’s important to know what his medication limitations are. According to experts, many herding dog breeds have a genetic predisposition to certain medications, including Imodium. These dog breeds include English Sheepdogs, Old English Sheepdogs, Shetland Sheepdogs , McNab Sheepdogs, Shetland Sheepdogs, Collies, German and Australian Shepherds, Longhaired Whippets, Skye Terriers, and Silken Windhounds, as they possess a mutant MDR1 gene that prevents them from tolerating many different types of drugs.
If administered the wrong types of medication, it can lead to toxicity and even death, so be sure to consult your vet before giving your dog any type of drug, even if he doesn’t fall under the category of breeds listed above. Your dog can be tested for the presence of MDR1 genes; knowing this information can be especially helpful for owners of mixed-breed dogs, particularly if their mix is undetermined.
Your Dog’s Medical Condition Poses A Risk
Just as certain medications can pose health risks to humans with preexisting medical conditions, the same rules apply to your furry companion. Knowing your dog’s complete medical history and visiting his vet annually for a check-up is not only crucial to keeping him healthy, but can help to avoid any potentially harmful medications or treatments. Cautionary measures should be used in treating dogs with Imodium, particularly those who have been diagnosed with Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism, kidney, lung, and liver disease.
In addition, dog owners should proceed with extreme caution in the following circumstances, as studies have shown that such dogs are prone to complications if given Imodium:
- Pregnant or nursing dogs
- Very young/very old dogs
- Profuse vomiting
- Signs of acute abdominal pain
- Head injuries
It cannot be stressed enough that Imodium is a remedy that must be discussed with your vet before giving to your dog, as research indicates that certain complications may arise if it is not administered without professional supervision.
Your Dog’s Weight Needs To Be Considered
According to veterinary experts, statistics have revealed that dogs weighing less than 20 lbs. can be easily overdosed when using Imodium in capsule form. Therefore, always consult your vet first to determine the proper dosage based on their weight, as well as the other health conditions as outlined above. If your vet approves Imodium as an appropriate form of therapy, he or she may suggest the medication in liquid form. As in the case of any medication (prescription or OTC), be sure to follow your vet’s directions exactly as indicated to ensure the safety and well-being of your pet.
Side Effects of Imodium for Dogs
As is the case with any medication, Imodium does carry the risk of side-effects when prescribed to your dog. Therefore, it’s essential to follow safety guidelines and dosages as directed by your veterinarian.
Some of the side-effects may include:
- Soft Stools
- Weight Loss
- Bloody Diarrhea
- Central Nervous Depression
- Intestinal Paralysis
- Toxic Megacolon
Additionally, drug interactions must be taken into consideration in the event that your dog is also being treated with medication such as MAOIs, barbiturates, or antihistamines, among others. Be sure to carefully review any possible drug interactions with your vet before giving your dog Imodium.
Furthermore, Imodium should not be used for more than five consecutive days. If your vet has approved usage and your dog is still experiencing chronic diarrhea or related symptoms, be sure to follow up immediately for a secondary consultation.
What To Expect At The Vet: Discussing Your Dog’s Treatment
If your dog suffers from frequent diarrhea or loose/liquid bowel movements, or his current attack is severe, be sure to contact your vet immediately. Some other warning signs that indicate it’s time to make an appointment include: