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:
- Indications of abdominal pain or tenderness
- Lethargy or extreme fatigue
- Signs of dehydration
- Weight loss
- Bloody stool
Once you have made an appointment with your vet, speak with him or her to determine the best course of treatment for your dog’s diarrhea. If Imodium presents itself as a viable treatment, you may want to consider the following guidelines as a starting point:
- Always speak with your vet before using Imodium
- Be sure to let your vet know if your dog has ever had a negative reaction to Ivermectin
- Let your vet know if your dog has any preexisting medical conditions
- Inform your vet of any other supplements or medications (OTC or prescription) you are currently giving your dog
- Ask your vet about your dog’s specific dietary needs during his recovery – he may recommend specific foods, such as plain rice and boiled meat; some experts have even identified canned pumpkin as a feasible option
- Contact your vet if your dog’s symptoms persist after 2 days
- Do not continue administering Imodium for more than 5 days unless otherwise directed by your vet
Natural Remedies: Considering The Alternatives For Your Dog’s Diarrhea
For many dog owners, finding homeopathic remedies and treatments for your dog to ease his discomfort may seem like the best option. There are many different ways you can help your dog at home during his recovery phase, including supplements, dietary changes, and keeping him as fully hydrated as possible while his health improves.
As emphasized throughout this article, consulting your vet first is strongly advised, as he will not only be able to make a professional diagnosis, but approve any medications you may wish to try with your dog. Once your vet has confirmed that your dog is suffering from diarrhea only and that his symptoms are not indicative of any other underlying health issues, discuss the possibilities of alternative treatments such as the ones outlined below:
- Probiotics: According to the American Kennel Club, some individuals have found that a more gentle approach to your dog’s diarrhea may be through the usage of probiotics, a dietary supplement that supports digestive health and may provide relief from occasional diarrhea. Research has shown that certain forms of probiotics have reduced the duration of diarrhea from seven to four days, while eliminating the need for antibiotic treatment by about 10% over placebo.
- Slippery Elm: As noted in Dogs Naturally Magazine.com, slippery elm has been shown to be a beneficial herb for those who prefer to take a more natural approach to their dog’s upset stomach. Speak with your vet to see if this homeopathic remedy is a safe alternative for your pooch.
- Fasting: Most animals will naturally fast in the event that they are ill; however, it is also helpful to stop feeding your dog if he is plagued with a case of diarrhea. Speak with your veterinarian as to the length of fasting, as well as any specific dietary needs he may need to follow during his recovery. Some experts have even indicated that filtered or spring water is preferable to tap water during recovery.
- Bland Diet: Although it may seem obvious, what you feed your dog during his bout of diarrhea can have a huge impact on his recovery. In fact, many vets will often recommend that owners feed their sick pooches a special home-cooked diet consisting of boiled hamburger meat or skinless, boneless boiled chicken and plain white rice for several days until their dog’s stomach issues have subsided. This sort of easily-digestible, bland food gives your pup’s digestive tract a chance to rest while supplying him with the nutrients he needs. If your dog’s diarrhea hasn’t cleared up after several days, be sure to schedule a follow-up with your vet immediately, as a bland homemade diet as the one described above does not provide adequate canine nutrition for more than a few days (and can actually lead to serious health complications and deficiencies).
Preventing Diarrhea In Your Dog: Helpful Tips
Although there are no foolproof ways to avoid canine diarrhea, there are certain practices you can follow to reduce the occurrence of this unpleasant condition as outlined in the tips below:
- Avoid changing your dog’s diet suddenly
- Refrain from giving your dog bones as toys or a snack (opt for rubber chew toys instead)
- Do not let your pup play with small objects that may be easily swallowed and/or ingested
- Avoid feeding your dog table scraps or human food
- Prevent your dog from scavenging during walks and whenever he’s outside
- Keep your dog up-to-date with his vaccinations and deworming