Can I Give My Cat Imodium For Diarrhea?

Can I Give My Cat Imodium for Diarrhea?

Are you asking the question “Can I Give My Cat Imodium For Diarrhea?” The answer is: Yes, in certain cases you can. But you need to understand the problem fully… Never give medication to stop the diarrhea without finding out first what’s causing it.

I think any long term cat owner will tell you diarrhea happens from time to time… That all too familiar sound that goes “squirt” into the litter box! That said, it’s important to add that while diarrhea may come and go quickly and mean nothing, it’s not always harmless and ordinary.

Diarrhea can be caused by:

  • Changes in their food
  • Food intolerances
  • Food allergies
  • Colitis or Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Worms
  • Pancreatic disorders
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cancer
  • Toxins

What’s Considered Diarrhea?

One or two loose or watery stools can’t really be considered diarrhea. Some cats naturally have soft stools, especially kittens. Very soft or watery stools must be frequent to be true diarrhea.  Frequency really is far more important than consistency.  Diarrhea that lasts for a day or two isn’t necessarily a problem unless your cat is a kitten or elderly or if your cat isn’t eating or drinking.

When to See a Vet Regarding Your Cat’s Diarrhea

You should urgently see a vet if the cat needs to move its bowels urgently and frequently and not always in the litter box.

If you know your cat suffers from colitis, IBD, pancreatic disorders or hyperthyroidism or if the diarrhea is bloody or black you should also call the vet pronto.

Simple Causes of Cat Diarrhea You Should Be Aware Of

Almost any cat will get diarrhea from dairy products like milk, ice cream or yogurt, contrary to popular opinion, cats cannot digest milk products. This is even more true for Siamese breeds.

If you love giving your furr babies milk, and they love it too you should try Goats milk.. it’s easier for them to digest  rarely causes problems. Dairy enzymes will help allow your cat digest dairy… but don’t over do it, it simply goes against nature. You can also look for lactose free milk at the grocery store.

Changing your cat’s food suddenly can also cause digestive upset.  Introduce a new food slowly over several days. It’s a good idea to mix some of the old food with the new.  Mix smaller amounts each day until he’s eating only the new food.  Cat treats are notorious for giving tummy troubles. Give just one at first. After a few days, if all goes well, give a few more.

When in doubt call the vet

He or she will probably want to do some blood work, examine you pet, do a stool culture from a stool sample, a rectal swab for parasites, and X-rays.

It’s important to provide your vet with accurate information. It’s a good idea to write it down before the appointment.  Include the date you first noticed the diarrhea, any other symptoms, as well as, their progression.

Have they gotten worse or stayed the same?

Are the stools like water?

Soft serve ice cream?

Cottage cheese?

What color are they?

How about smell?

Are there any normal stools mixed in from time to time?

Mucus?

Any new food?

Has he been eating ‘’people food?’’ New treats? Even treats that never caused a problem before can start to cause issues. These are the first things to take away when you notice diarrhea.

Vomiting? How often? What does it look like?

Lethargic?

Lack of appetite?

Hairball symptoms—gagging, hacking?

Does the cat groom itself?

Has he lost weight?

Has there been any stressful situations?

New pet?

Loss of a pet?

Have any of your family members moved out of the house?

Any construction? Ongoing street repair?

New house plants? Holiday décor like holly, evergreen, mistletoe, poinsettia plants, lilies?

Could he possibly have eaten chocolate?

Have you been painting?

Rule #1: Do no harm

Never give medication to stop the diarrhea without finding out first what’s causing it. 

Some parasites, toxins, and conditions can be exacerbated by Imodium.  Also, the use of Imodium in cats can cause excitation and hyperactivity.

In the past Kaopectate liquid worked well for cats and kittens, however, Kaopectate has since been reformulated and now contains aspirin which is very toxic to pets!

Pepto Bismol contains Bismuth Subsalicylate. Use extreme caution when administering this to cats. This product is not considered safe for cats. Use only under the direction of an experienced veterinarian!  

Medications to stop diarrhea can do more harm than good since sometimes the cats body is trying to remove toxins by means of diarrhea.  If a medication like Imodium that shuts down the guts mobility is given it can inhibit the body’s natural detoxing and healing power. This means your cat’s health may decline even further.  I would advise that you always check with a qualified veterinarian before giving your cat medications of any kind for diarrhea.

Imodium should never be given if your cat is suffering from profuse or bloody diarrhea or if your cat has had diarrhea for 2 or more days. Do not give if your pet is experiencing loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, or if very lethargic.  Contact your vet immediately.

Never give kittens or severely ill pets Imodium.  Call your vet.

If your cat has mild diarrhea and seems normal otherwise—no vomiting, is eating and drinking, grooming himself, playing—you could wait it out but only if the cat is eating and drinking.

However, call your vet without delay if:

  • Your cat is very old, very young or has a health problem causing it to be easily dehydrated, such as kidney disease.
  • If your cat seems very sick or is vomiting, depressed, in pain, lethargic, or any other behavior that just isn’t right for your cat.
  • If the diarrhea is dark and tarry or contains visible blood.
  • If the diarrhea is explosive, very frequent, watery or profuse.

If your kitties mean the world to you, it’s always better safe then sorry, so contact a vet.

Dosage

If your vet tells you to use it:

Use the liquid form rather than the tablets for more exact dosing. Liquid Imodium has a concentration of 1 milligram per 5 milliliters or 0.2 mg/mL.

The dose for cats is:

  • For cats 7 lbs. or less: 0.5 mL by mouth once daily for no longer than 2 days.
  • For cats over 7lbs: 1 mL by mouth once daily for no longer than 2 days.
  • Discontinue immediately if cat shows signs of constipation or if experiencing loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, or if very lethargic.
  • Buy a 1 mL syringe to get accurate dosage. These are sold at pharmacies; your pharmacist can help you.  An interesting comparison—a tablespoon is equivalent to 30 mL!!!  So your cat is getting a very tiny amount indeed!

Imodium is the brand name for Loperamide.  Loperamide is used to treat run-or-the-mill diarrhea and colitis in humans and is sometimes prescribed to pets.  It’s also used to treat maldigestion and malabsorption in pets that are not absorbing enough nutrients from their food. It’s a very mild narcotic but not addictive.  For diarrhea it should never be used for longer than 2 days.

Imodium decreases the motility of the muscles in the stomach to slow the passage of food through the digestive system. This allows increased absorption of nutrients and water, reducing the water going into the stool and lessening the diarrhea.

If you miss a dose, skip the missed dose and continue the regular dosing schedule. Never give your cat two doses at once.

Side Effects

Side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Sedation—sleepiness
  • Lethargy
  • Gas
  • Can effect the central nervous system and cause excitation in cats

There can be drug interactions. It’s unlikely that your cat is on these drugs but nevertheless tell your vet if your cat is taking:

  • Selegiline
  • Amitraz
  • Naloxone
  • Diazepam
  • Furazolidone

Caution

Do not give to pets if diarrhea is caused by a bacteria or toxin.

Use caution when giving to cats, it can cause increased excitement to cats. They may bite or become temporary aggressive.

Use with great caution if cat has hypothyroidism, kidney or liver disease, or Addison’s disease.

Use caution when giving to pregnant of lactating cats.

Use caution when giving to older cats.

Other OTC Antidiarrheals

There are other antidiarrheals if the diarrhea isn’t severe. Some good ones are Nutri-Vet Anti-Diarrhea Cat Liquid by Nutri-Vet. Nutri-vet is much like the Kaopectate of years gone by.  Active ingredients are Kaolin 19%, Pectin 1%. Nutri-Vet Anti-Diarrhea gets very good ratings.  This works very well for kittens. Always read and follow the directions.

Tips for Treating Cats with Diarrhea

Give your cat plenty of fresh water so he doesn’t become dehydrated.

Keep children away and let your cat rest.

Do not let your cat become stressed. (Other than the trip to the vet).

Feed him a very digestible, bland, low fat diet such as boiled chicken breast (no bones, skin, or seasonings) mixed with rice (also no seasonings) mix half and half ratio and feed in small frequent amounts.  You can also use boiled low-fat ground turkey or beef.

Your vet may prescribe a highly digestible low-fat food like Purina EN , Royal Canin Digestive Low Fat or Hills I/D.

If you can’t get your cat to drink– some cats are naturally drinkers and some aren’t—you can make chicken broth by boiling chicken without the skin or fat, give canned low sodium chicken broth, or the water that rice has been boiled in. Serve room temperature. You can add these to any of the diets above to increase the water content.

Probiotics can help diarrhea. These increase the good bacteria in the bowel and helps it to heal.

Purina’s Fort Flora, and Finest for Pets Tummy Works well according to feedback.

Probiotics & Cat Digestive Supplements, are good to try.

These can be mixed with food or given with an eye dropper. If your cat has a food intolerance NaturVet Digestive Enzymes Plus Probiotics Cat Soft Chews given before meals can help.

Studies are proving that probiotics not only keep our own colon healthy but also our little fur baby’s tummies. In one study Enterococcus faecium SF68 proved to have an ”immunomodulating effect” in healthy kittens after vaccination for feline herpes virus type 1 (FHV-1), feline panleukopenia virus and feline calicivirus and could have clinical benefit for disorders of the GI tract. In another study probiotics were found to manage stress diarrhea. Probiotics are being seen as a good line of defense in treating human IBD and it’s also very useful in treating our cats with IBD as well by fighting inflammation.

Feeding

You may feel you should withhold food from your cat fearing it may make the situation worse. However, your cat needs to eat. If your cat doesn’t eat, he may go into liver failure—hepatic lipidosis. This condition is fatal.

Simplify your cat’s diet by cutting out treats and feeding his usual cat food. If you changed your cat’s food before the diarrhea started go back to the previous brand of food. Once the tummy troubles are over you could change to a cat food that is hypoallergenic or low-antigen. Look for those made from duck or rabbit. Change slowly. If your cat is having problems related to an allergy or food intolerance this should help.

Some cats do well on a low fiber diet, especially those with IBD. Others, if IBD isn’t a problem, your kitty may do better on a high fiber diet. Your vet can help you decide what is right for your cat. And they often have samples to try before you buy.

If your cat has always had loose stool a fiber supplement could firm them up. Ask your vet. Unflavored psyllium such as Metamucil or canned pumpkin are good ones for cats. Mix a teaspoon into your cat’s canned food. No canned food? Mix it in some strained meat baby food (100% meat).

It’s frightening when our cats are sick and it’s only natural to want to do anything possible to help them feel better. To treat the littlest members of our family without knowing what’s causing the problem is like flying in the dark. So remember, our vets are our best friends at times like these. They are able to answer our questions, diagnose what’s wrong, reassure us, show us how to treat it, and ease the symptoms.

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