When your dog has diarrhea, it can cause them distress and mean extra housework for you. Accidents around the house could leave you worrying about whether the rug or that patch of carpet will ever look the same again! Severe cases of diarrhea could even cause your dog to lose weight or become dehydrated. So, it’s understandable that you might want to find a way to make your fur baby feel better as soon as possible. Of course, a visit from one of our veterinary team might be needed to clear up your pooch’s poop problem. But could you try giving them medication like Imodium first?
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What is Imodium?
Imodium is one of the trade names of a drug called Loperamide. Loperamide is an opioid medication from the same family as morphine, pethidine, and codeine. Although opioid medications are commonly used for their pain relief effect, they also tend to cause constipation. While this constipation is usually an unpleasant side effect, loperamide is used to treat diarrhea in humans through this constipation-causing side effect.
Why might you want to give Imodium to your dog?
In humans, Imodium is a safe and effective treatment for diarrhea. So, it’s easy to see why pet parents might be tempted to give their dog Imodium to relieve their diarrhea symptoms. This is especially true if your dog is acting fit and well aside from having diarrhea, and a bland diet has failed to help. But is it safe to give Imodium to your dog?
Is Imodium safe for your dog?
You should never give Imodium or any other medication to your dog without checking with your veterinarian first. Although Imodium has a license to treat diarrhea in people, it’s not licensed to treat dogs. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be used under veterinary supervision, as there are many cases where dogs have been successfully treated with Imodium. But a member of our team will need to check that Imodium is a suitable option for your poorly pooch.
Of course, if your dog’s diarrhea is caused by an infection, a parasite, or another more serious cause, delaying veterinary advice by giving Imodium could be dangerous or at least hamper your dog’s recovery. This is why it’s essential to speak to your veterinarian first to ensure it’s an appropriate treatment for your dog’s symptoms.
Imodium is not suitable for all causes of diarrhea, though, so it’s best to check with your veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog.
What are the possible side effects of Imodium?
Because Imodium is used to treat diarrhea by causing constipation, there is a risk that it can be a bit too effective! Therefore, it’s not uncommon that dogs treated with Imodium can quickly go from having diarrhea to being constipated for a few days. This may not be too much of an issue if it’s just mild constipation, but more severe constipation can require veterinary treatment.
Being part of the opioid family of drugs, like morphine, pethidine, and codeine, Imodium can cause some sedation. At the correct dose, this sedation is very mild. Still, it could be a problem if your dog has other health conditions, especially those affecting the heart, lungs, or circulation. The sedation can also be more severe in dogs who have a gene mutation of their MDR1 gene. Breeds who are prone to this include Collies, Shelties, and Australian and German Shepherds.
How much Imodium should you give to your dog?
Imodium is available as a liquid and a tablet. The liquid allows easier and more accurate dosing of small dogs, whereas the tablets are better for larger breeds. It’s important to use the correct dose for your dog’s body weight. Overdosing will make side effects more likely, and mean any side effects could be more serious.
If you’d like to discuss using Imodium for your dog’s diarrhea, call and speak to a member of our team. They will decide whether Imodium will be safe to use and advise you on the best dose to give.
There are situations where Imodium shouldn’t be used, though, so it’s best to ask your veterinarian for a suitable dose for your dog.
When to see a veterinarian for your dog’s diarrhea?
If your dog seems unwell or has any other symptoms alongside the diarrhea, it’s best to arrange for them to be examined by one of our veterinarians. This is also true if you notice that their poop is black or contains blood. If you decided to try Imodium first, this could delay investigation or treatment and hinder your canine companion’s recovery.
If your dog seems well aside from having runny poop and is up to date with parasite treatment, you should try feeding them a bland diet. A bland diet could be boiled chicken and rice, plain pasta, white fish, or scrambled egg. A bland diet will often help diarrhea improve, but if there’s no change in 48 hours, it’s worth speaking to your veterinarian. The veterinarian may decide your furry friend needs an examination to ensure there’s nothing concerning going on. Alternatively, they may advise you to try using a symptomatic treatment like Imodium if it’s appropriate.
So, what’s the best thing to do if your dog has diarrhea?
If your dog has diarrhea, it can be frustrating, as well as exhausting when you’re cleaning up little accidents all the time! If your pooch isn’t acting poorly and has no other symptoms, it’s worth checking they’re up to date with parasite control and offering them a bland diet for a few days. However, if their poop doesn’t start to firm up, or if they seem unwell, give the veterinary team a call so that we can help.
Although Imodium isn’t licensed for use in dogs, it can be used off-license under veterinary advice. It’s not suitable for all causes of diarrhea, though, so it’s best to check with your veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog.
The exact dose of Imodium will vary dog-to-dog, depending on their body weight. Small dogs will be easier to dose with liquid Imodium, while medium and large dogs will need tablets. There are situations where Imodium shouldn’t be used, though, so it’s best to ask your veterinarian for a suitable dose for your dog.
Imodium is a member of the opioid drug family, just like morphine, codeine, and some other pain relievers. Therefore, it can cause side effects like sedation and constipation in all dogs, especially if an overdose is given. However, some dogs are very sensitive to Imodium due to a gene mutation, so it might be best avoided. These breeds include Collies, Shelties, and Australian and German Shepherds.
Dr. Hannah Godfrey MRCVS graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2011. Although she initially worked in mixed practice treating all species, she found a love for small animal work and has worked exclusively with dogs and cats since 2014. She lives in Wales with her partner, son, and two cats (named Poppy and Ashton Kutcher), and writes comedy fiction in her spare time.