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


Can you Give Your Dog Imodium?

Can you give your dog Imodium? It seems like these days 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 serious as health. There are countless websites, some reputable and some not, suggesting to give dogs with diarrhea Imodium, but many seem to fail about warning about important factors that may make the difference between bringing a dog back to health or causing more harm than good.

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. It's an opioid drug, but 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) causing not enough time for water and nutrients to be 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 as 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 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 not 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, 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 who 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 high concentration of certain drugs from circulating in their blood stream. 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 be Easily Overdosed

The dosage of Imodium is 1 Imodium capsule (2 mg) per 50 pound dogs, according to veterinarian Dawn Ruben. Dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds can be easily overdosed 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.

Alexadry© All Rights Reserved, do not copy--this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice.

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Comments 5 comments

CASE1WORKER profile image


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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alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

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!

lee 17 months ago

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.

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alexadry 17 months ago from USA Author

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

Dallassq 2 months ago

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.!

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