Can I Give My Dog Imodium For Diarrhea?

December 7, 2020

No dog ownership experience would be replete without dealing with a dose of doggie diarrhea.

When faced with the mess a case of the runs produces, it is natural to want to stop it immediately. Most people do a quick inventory of their medicine cabinets to see if they have something that might help their pooch.

Before doing so, you should consult your veterinarian about different medications and alternative treatments. A vet can tell you whether you should let nature run its course or if medicinal intervention is necessary.

What is Imodium?

Imodium is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication you can purchase at any pharmacy. It is also known as loperamide, which is a synthetic opioid. This class of drugs includes morphine and oxycodone. Imodium is a common treatment in humans for diarrhea. Its efficacy is down to the fact that opioids cause constipation. However, Imodium contains a low dose of loperamide and is not indicated for pain relief, unlike other opioid drugs.

However, can you give a dog Imodium? This is a question that many dog owners face during a canine digestive crisis that leaves them wondering how so much excrement can come from one dog. The short answer is yes, but there are several caveats to consider.

What does Imodium do to a dog’s body?

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As mammals, medications like Imodium have similar effects on canines to those on humans. However, dogs tend to be more sensitive to such medicines and might experience severe reactions to their use. Imodium will put a stop to a case of diarrhea, but you might do more harm than good despite your best intentions.

First, you could constipate the dog to the point of causing fecal impaction, which is painful. Many people administer the first dose, and when their doggie’s tummy continues running, they utilize more. Too much loperamide causes the stool to harden, leading to constipation.

Second, Imodium has a sedating effect, which becomes severe in some dogs, especially when given too high a dose. A dog with too much loperamide in their system will be drowsy and challenging to rouse from a deep sleep.

Severe side effects only occur rarely. They include bloody stool, intestinal paralysis, and pancreatitis. If you suspect your dog is experiencing any such conditions, take them to a vet immediately.

How much Imodium should you give a dog?

Consult your veterinarian to ensure that you give your dog the right dose of Imodium. A 2 mg Imodium capsule twice or three times a day is ideal for a 50-pound dog as a general rule. Using that calculation, you could halve an Imodium capsule for a 25-pound dog, and so on. Vets usually recommend using Imodium liquid, dosing a dog with 0.1 mg per 2.2 pounds. This is a more accurate method of ensuring that you do not overdose the dog with loperamide.

Before you go ahead and dose your dog with loperamide, ask your vet if this is a wise course of action and confirm the dosage. They will explain that there are certain circumstances under which dogs should not take Imodium. The dose might vary from the rule of thumb calculation depending on your dog’s health record.

Is Imodium always advisable?

While your first instinct might be to get diarrhea to stop, medicating a dog might not be the best option. Sometimes, your canine’s body reacts negatively to something they ate, usually something they should not have sunk their teeth into. 

This includes cat feces, birds, frogs, lizards, and too much human food, to name a few. In these cases, diarrhea clears up after one or two rounds. Being too quick to medicate your dog for diarrhea could lead to constipation.

Another common cause of diarrhea is an infection. When giving your dog Imodium, you are treating a symptom and not its cause. The longer your pooch goes without antibiotics, the worse the infection becomes. 

Therefore, speak to your vet before taking out your trusty bottle of loperamide. Based on a few questions about your doggie’s diarrhea, a vet can tell you whether you should go ahead and medicate or bring the dog in for a consultation.

When should you not use Imodium?

There are scenarios where a dog owner can exclude the use of loperamide before even contemplating it. Vets do not recommend using Imodium for expectant and nursing dogs, dogs with preexisting conditions like kidney disease, and dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds. Neither should you use loperamide for puppies or dogs of advanced age.

Herding dog breeds, such as collies, Shetland sheepdogs, and Australian Shepherds, have a genetic predisposition that renders them unable to break down Imodium once it is in their digestive system. It can cause adverse side effects if used for these breeds. 

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