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Five Reasons Not to Give Your Dog Imodium Without Your Vet's Consent

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Is imodium safe for dogs?

Is imodium safe for dogs?

Can You Give Dogs Imodium?

Can you give your dog Imodium? These days, it seems like many people head over to the Internet to ask Google for tips and advice when dealing with their own health issues and the health issues of their pets. The internet can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse, especially when it comes to something as serious as health. There are countless websites, some reputable and some not, that suggest giving dogs with diarrhea Imodium, but many seem to fail at warning about important factors that may make the difference between bringing a dog back to health or causing more harm than good.

What Is Imodium?

First off, what exactly is Imodium and how does it work? Imodium, also known as loperamide, is a common over-the-counter medication used mainly to treat diarrhea in humans. Although it's a narcotic drug, overall it's a non-addictive, weak narcotic, according to Pet MD. This drug mainly works by decreasing the motility of food through the digestive tract. When a dog has diarrhea, food moves rapidly through the intestines (hypermotility) preventing water and nutrients from being absorbed. For this reason, Imodium is also used in pets suffering from malabsorption and maldigestion since it allows more time for nutrients and food to be absorbed. As much as this all sounds like good news, there are cases where the use of this drug may prove deleterious. In the next paragraphs, we will go over five good reasons why you shouldn't give your dog Imodium, unless it's under your vet's advice.

Five Reasons Not to Give Imodium to Your Dog

Tempted to treat your dog's diarrhea at home using Imodium? Make sure you read these warnings and then ask your vet for advice. Your dog's care is in your own hands and you don't want to unintentionally cause more harm than good by giving Imodium when it's not safe to do so. Here are five good reasons not to.

1. You Don't Know What's Exactly Causing the Diarrhea

Diarrhea in dogs can stem from so many causes your head may spin if you read some. Dogs can't talk, so you may not know if your dog had a feast on who knows what when he was in the yard unsupervised. Even if your dog is always supervised, there is no sure way to know what's causing it. In some cases, diarrhea can be a sign of potentially dangerous conditions, and by using a drug like Imodium you may be wasting time when the condition needs prompt treatment with a totally different type of drug. This leads us to another second reason why this drug should be used with caution and under a vet's guidance.

2. Your Dog May Actually Need Diarrhea

Think diarrhea is a bad thing? Think again! In many cases, diarrhea is a life-saving event as it's the body's natural way to get rid of something the body knows is potentially harmful. Those liquid squirts are the body's way to detoxify itself. So generally, diarrhea caused by ingestion of toxins, bacteria or viruses (think infectious agents like parvo-virus), is often better off managed (through hydration and fluid replacement) than treated with anti-diarrhea products. The dog's body in these cases is attempting to rid itself of the offending contaminants and the use of anti-diarrhea meds such as Imodium will prevent purging and can make the illness worse since with loperamide you will actually be enhancing absorption, explains veterinarian Wendy C. Brooks. You definitively don't want infectious agents and toxins to stick around the GI tract longer! Another good reason to see the vet.

3. Your Breed May be Prone to Reactions

There are certain dog breeds that are put in danger when a drug such as Imodium is used. According to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, many herding dog breeds are genetically predisposed to adverse drug reactions to antiparasitic drugs such as ivermectin, milbemycin, and related drugs), loperamide (Imodium), and several other anticancer drugs. What causes these reactions? It's simply a mutation in these dogs' multidrug resistance gene (MDR1 gene).

In healthy dogs, their brain and central nervous system are protected by the 'blood-brain barrier,' thus preventing a high concentration of certain drugs from circulating in their bloodstream. In MDR1-affected dogs, certain drug components cross the blood-brain barrier and end up leaking into the liver, or central nervous system, causing toxicity and even death. Symptoms of toxicity include drooling, ataxia, blindness, coma, and respiratory problems. Affected breeds include Collies and Collie-type breeds as well as Australian Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs, and Shetland Sheepdogs just to name a few. If you are concerned about your dog being MDR-1 affected you can have him tested.

4. Must Be Used With Caution in Dogs With Medical Conditions

As with many other drugs, there are risks for the drug to cause problems in dogs with certain conditions. While you may think your dog is healthy, you may not be aware of underlying conditions that aren't readily recognizable and may even be missed by vets at your dog's annual exam. Loperamide should be used with caution in dogs with hypothyroidism, kidney disease, Addison's disease, dogs with head injuries, lung disease, acute abdominal pain or liver disease explains veterinarian Dawn Ruben.

5. Dogs Under 20 LBS Can Easily Overdose

The dosage of Imodium is 1 Imodium capsule (2 mg) per 50-pound dog, according to veterinarian Dawn Ruben. Dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds can easily overdose when using the capsules. For this reason, Imodium capsules shouldn't be given to them. Instead, you'll need to consult with your vet to determine the correct dose by using the liquid form.

Of course, as with other medications, there are also risks for side effects when using Imodium. Constipation, bloating, and central nervous depression are just a few. It may also create problems when administered with other central nervous system depressants such as antihistamines, barbiturates, and MAOIs. Still interested in using Imodium for your dog? Make sure you follow these safety guidelines on how to use Imodium safely.

Further Reading

  • Using Probiotics for Dog Diarrhea
    At times, the use of probiotics for dog diarrhea can be helpful in restoring healthy bacteria in the gut. Learn more about probiotics and how they can help for cases of canine colitis an d much more.
  • Vet-Approved Dog Upset Stomach Home Remedies
    Is your dog upset stomach becoming a problem? Learn some effective vet-approved natural home remedies to treat your dog's upset stomach at home. Easy to make dog bland diet recipe, straight from your kitchen's pantry!
  • Dog Stool Information: What do Normal Dog Stools Loo...
    What do normal dog stools look like? Why does a dog's stool start firm and then turns soft? What's the normal color? Why is there mucus in the dog's stool? Answers to some common questions.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: What are the overdose symptoms of Imodium?

Answer: I had to look up the overdose Imodium symptoms on a veterinary website I am a member of. The site said that the symptoms of an Imodium overdose in dogs are usually seen within 2 to 4 hours and include lethargy, respiratory distress and incoordination. Paradoxically, excitement may also appear. With severe overdoses, it is possible to also see muscle tremors and loss of consciousness. If you suspect an overdose, please consult with your vet as there is a reversal drug.

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© 2014 Adrienne Farricelli


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 27, 2019:

Tina, choosing a good dog food is not an easy task. It would help to determine whether your dog may have a food intolerance to some ingredients or if there's something else going on health-wise. With the help of your vet, or even a second opinion from an internist, you may be able to treat the underlying issue.

Tina on August 24, 2019:

What is a very good dog food , my dog has stomach problems sometimes , he is a small terrier

Alison on November 03, 2017:

Really informative. Wish I'd found you before I gave my blue an immodium, doesn't agree with him but it has helped his tummy problems. Respect.

Evan Zuniga on November 03, 2017:

If you are reading this, PLEASE be careful when giving any pet Imodium or any other drug made for humans. My vet prescribed Imodium to help my puppy’s diarrhea and she ended up overdosing. We have her the exact amount the vet ordered and we trusted him, but she was probably too young to be taking it. Just a warning to anyone considering giving Imodium to their canine family member. I would advise against it no matter the circumstances.

Dallassq on August 08, 2016:

A great article, thank you so much for your help. I work for a vet and would be wary of giving ANY medications without consulting with a vet, even if they are over the counter. We see many pets getting sick from providing over the counter products.!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 09, 2015:

Lee, thanks for sharing your thoughts on not giving Imodium to dogs without vet consent; it's much appreciated!

lee on May 09, 2015:

I totally agree I considered the thought of using pepto but my dog would not benefit. I don't hold the position to say it wouldn't benefit a dog in other cases. Diarrhea is a process of elemination.. I only take pepto if being at work is going to cause an issue with frequent breaks. Nothing I have read seems to be as beneficial then natural solutions like fasting and diet restriction.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 10, 2014:

Case1worker, your theory makes perfectly sense, and our bodies are amazing in trying to make use feel better! I also hardly reach for the medicine cabinet and rather make things run their course!

CASE1WORKER from UNITED KINGDOM on February 10, 2014:

I can't believe that people would give this to their pets- I don't even give it to myself as I endorse the theory best to get it all out!

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