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Pet Care. Pet Training. Pet Stories.

Is Imodium Safe for Dogs?

09/14/2018 by Wendy Rose Gould
September 14th, 2018 by Wendy Rose Gould

Reviewed for accuracy on Dec. 14, 2021 by Jennifer Coates, DVM

Quick Answer: Imodium is safe under a vet’s supervision.

Key Takeaways

  • Imodium (loperamide) is used to control diarrhea.
  • Certain dogs should not be given Imodium so talk to a veterinarian before giving it to your dog.
  • Dosage of Imodium depends on a dog’s size and health status and the form of Imodium given.
  • Possible side effects of Imodium include constipation, bloat, fatigue, sleepiness, dry mouth, and abdominal discomfort.

Diarrhea is uncomfortable and messy, but beyond that, it can result in dehydration and if it goes on long enough, malnutrition. This is because food that moves too quickly through the system prevents water and nutrients from being absorbed into the body. Imodium (loperamide) works by slowing down the movement of water and food through the gastrointestinal tract. This is true whether it’s taken by humans or dogs.

While at-home treatment can help in some cases, Imodium should only be given to your dog after you’ve consulted with your veterinarian. Your vet can help you determine the cause of diarrhea, whether Imodium is an appropriate form of treatment, and if so, recommend an appropriate dosage.

The following dogs should usually not take Imodium:

  • Dogs that are very young or very old.
  • Dogs that are pregnant or nursing.
  • Dogs that are allergic or have had a previous bad reaction to Imodium.
  • Dogs that are exhibiting signs of illness outside of diarrhea (vomiting, abdominal pain, blood in the stool) or could have diarrhea associated with a gastrointestinal infection, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or an intestinal blockage or perforation.
  • Dogs that have a mutation in their multidrug resistance (MDR1) gene. Genetic testing is the only way to know for sure if your dog has this mutation although some breeds carry it more frequently than others. If you aren’t sure, don’t administer Imodium without first consulting your vet.
  • Dogs that have existing medical conditions including hypothyroidism, liver or kidney disease, respiratory problems, Addison’s disease, and dogs with head injuries or diseases affecting the brain.
  • Dogs that are currently on other medications. It’s possible that Imodium could interfere with other drugs or increase the chances of side effects.
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What is Imodium?

Imodium, generically referred to as loperamide, is an over-the-counter medication that helps stop diarrhea by slowing down the movement of food and water through the gut. This gives the body more time to absorb water out of the intestinal tract. The answer to whether dogs can take Imodium is yes, but there are several considerations to take before administering the medication to your pet. Reminder: ask your vet first and then use this article to help once you’ve gotten the go-ahead.

Dosage Information

The recommended dosage of Imodium depends on your dog’s weight and health status and the form of medication used. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends a dose of 0.1-0.2 mg/kg [0.05-0.1 mg/lb]. For convenience, one 2 mg capsule or tablet of Imodium can be given per 50 pounds of body weight. Cut it in half for a dog that weighs around 25 pounds and always use the liquid form of Imodium for dogs under 20 pounds.

Make sure to confirm what dosage is appropriate for your dog with your veterinarian before administering. Do not give Imodium more than three times a day or for more than 3 days in a row unless your veterinarian expressly tells you to do so.

Potential Imodium Side Effects in Dogs

As is true with any medication, your dog may experience some Imodium-related side effects. These can include:

  • Constipation (typically a sign of too much Imodium)
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Abdominal discomfort

More serious potential side effects include intestinal paralysis, central nervous system depression, and megacolon. If your pet displays any Imodium-related side effects, cease administration and consult your veterinarian immediately.

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