Imodium for Dogs — Is It Okay to Give Your Dog OTC Human Medicine?

Let's talk Imodium for dogs — can you give a dog Imodium for his upset stomach? Are other OTC human meds like Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol safe for your dog?

A beagle or hound dog looking sick and under the weather.
A beagle or hound dog looking sick and under the weather. Photography by Igor Normann/Shutterstock.

Does your dog have an upset stomach? Whether the primary symptoms are erupting from one end (vomiting) or the other (diarrhea), when our canine friends take ill, no matter how light or temporary the situation may be, we instinctively turn to those over-the-counter products that bring us the most immediate relief. So, let’s talk Imodium for dogs — can you give a dog Imodium? Is it safe to give a dog Imodium? Can you give a dog Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate for his upset stomach? Read our insights and always contact your vet before giving your dog any sort of medicine.

First, consider why your dog’s stomach is upset

A sick, older dog lying on the floor.
Imodium for dogs — is it safe for your pup? Photography ©stonena7 | Thinkstock.

Before we dig into Imodium for dogs — or any kind of human OTC indigestion medicine for dogs — take a moment to consider the context of your dog’s upset tummy.

Have you recently changed your dog’s diet or brand of food? Has you pup been rooting around in the garbage or eaten something he should not have? Has your dog traveled recently, been in a kennel or boarding facility, or been subjected to any unusual stressors?

Figuring out the cause of dog diarrhea can be easier if you pay regular attention to the quality of your dog’s stool. You should also take severity and duration into account before giving human medications of any kind to dogs. Diet and stress are the two most common causes of dog diarrhea, and, even untreated, these conditions usually resolve themselves within a couple of days.

Human OTC medicines for dogs with Upset stomachs

Let’s look at three of the most popular over-the-counter upset-stomach treatments for humans and assess the risks and potential benefits that they offer to dogs. Right off the bat, though, I’ll remind you that most cases of upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhea in dogs resolve themselves within a few days of symptom onset.

Further, a general rule of thumb for human medications is to keep them away from dogs. That said, let’s start with Imodium for dogs, since the two others we’ll look at, Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol, both contain the same active ingredient.

Imodium for dogs

What does Imodium do? Imodium is a brand name for a non-addictive drug called Loperamide, which slows the movement of material through the digestive tract, and encourages the absorption of excess water. These properties imply that in cases of diarrhea in dogs, Imodium for dogs should act to prevent frequent, watery defecation and limit the repetitive, fruitless and unproductive straining that accompanies loose stool. Like most OTC medications these days, Imodium is available in liquid and pill/chewable tablet formats, as well as in varieties that contain different ingredients.

The list of restrictions on Imodium for dogs reads like one of those commercials you see on television, where the warnings take fully a third of the air time to disclose. The most important of these include cautions against use in senior dogs, and against treatment of diarrhea caused by toxins or bacterial infections. And, always contact your veterinarian before you give your canid friends human medications of any kind.

Kaopectate for dogs and Pepto-Bismol for dogs

In its current formula (since around 2003), your standard dose of Kaopectate is practically the same thing as Pepto-Bismol. Both have a common active ingredient, to wit, bismuth subsalicylate. Though no one is completely sure how bismuth subsalicylate works, we do know that it continues to be used to treat upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Medicines like Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol coat and reduce inflammation along irritated digestive tracts, as well as functioning as acid reducers.

However, as with Imodium, Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol also come in a variety of formulas, each with its own strength, and each geared toward resolving a specific digestive issue.

In other words, not all over-the-counter upset stomach medications are created equal, and the one you trust when your stomach is unsettled may do more harm than good when administered to a dog. Even a basic, standard formula can interact poorly if your dog is on other prescription medications, and frequently leads to blackened stools or constipation in dogs.

What can I give my dog for diarrhea?

I’m certain there are many readers who have successfully mitigated upset stomach symptoms in dogs by using Imodium for dogs — or Kaopectate for dogs Pepto-Bismol for dogs.

Before you try it yourself at home, place a call to your dog’s vet, particularly if symptoms have persisted for more than a couple of days. The size and weight of your dog should always be taken into account for dosage limits and how long and frequently it should be given to a dog.

On the other hand, you could try out tried and true non-narcotic solutions. Diarrhea, in particular, is one of the most common reasons that vets hear from dog owners. My own dog’s vet recently echoed conventional wisdom for dealing with digestive issues in dogs. She recommended that I try simple, unadorned, cooked white rice along with small, easily digestible bits of boiled chicken breast for a couple of days at mealtime before transitioning my dog back to her normal kibble.

How do you treat upset stomach in dogs?

Wholesome, short-term treatments, like chicken and rice, thankfully have no dangerous side effects and can help get a dog’s gastrointestinal tract back on track. If you take the time to search the internet in quest of a solution to a dog’s upset stomach, then you are clearly thorough enough to understand and appreciate the risks of giving human over-the-counter medications to your dog. Remember that most cases of diarrhea and vomiting in dogs have dietary or stress-related causes, and most resolve on their own with no treatment.

If your dog is ill at ease for more than a couple of days due to vomiting or diarrhea, dehydration becomes a concern, and you should consult a veterinary professional.

Tell us: How do you deal with upset stomach issues when they arise in your puppy pals? Let us know in the comments!

Struggling with diarrhea or stomach upset yourself? How to stop diarrhea and treat and prevent outbreaks >>

This piece was originally published in 2017.

Thumbnail: Photography by Igor Normann/Shutterstock.

About the author

Melvin Peña is a writer, editor, and social media manager who spends most of his time in Durham, North Carolina. His interests include his dog, Baby (of course!), art, hiking, urban farming and karaoke.

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36 thoughts on “Imodium for Dogs — Is It Okay to Give Your Dog OTC Human Medicine?”

  1. My mixed-breed dog has the MDR1 mutation, even though she's only 8 percent GSD and has only traces of collie/border collie genes. I think it would be a good idea in any article about drugs that can be fatal to otherwise-normal dogs affected by the MDR1 mutation — emphatically including the three you mention above — to give a heads-up about the mutation, that it is not uncommon, and that if your mixed-breed dog hasn't been tested, or if you have any type of herding dog or others prone to the mutation, to avoid these drugs without a serious conversation with your vet (and I'd recommend the test, because there are lots of other drugs that they are sensitive to).

    Incidentally, this isn't a dominant/recessive gene type–my dog is "mutant/normal" meaning she has one mutant and one normal gene. In her case, she is affected but probably not as severely as "mutant/mutant" dogs. However, the wrong drug could still make her very sick or worse.

  2. Very irresponsible article! This author is not aware of the MDR1 mutancy many dogs now have. If you have a herding dog, sight hound or even a cross breed, you could kill it Or damage it severely by giving these drugs. Please read or other current articles before giving any drugs. Also anything with Xylitol which is often added to human drugs to make them more palatable is deadly to dogs!

  3. Please be careful with Imodium and dogs. I was going my Australian Shepherd some for her diarrhea. I asked my vet for her recommendatio and she explained that Imodium should not be given to certain breeds due to the fact that they may have a gene deficiency and the imodium can become toxic to her. Always check with your veterinarian professional before giving your fur babies ANY over-the-counter medications or supplements.

  4. Pingback: Why Is Your Dog’s Stomach Making Noises? A Vet Weighs In – Chipper Pets

  5. Pingback: Why Is Your Dog’s Stomach Making Noises? A Vet Weighs In – Fur Kiddos

  6. My dog, 11 year old yellow lab, has had loose stools for about a week now. She is going to the bathroom at least four to five times a day. She is older so she rests a lot, therefore I cannot tell if she is resting because she’s ill or if she’s old. She is still eating and drinking regularly. She is wagging her tail and loves walks even though she has diarrhea.

    I added a few tablespoons of pumpkin to her food. Hopefully this will help. I cannot afford a bunch of vet fees. I am wondering if I can give her any Imodium? Any advice?

  7. Pingback: Why Is Your Dog’s Stomach Making Noises? A Vet Weighs In – News @ ManyPaws Australia

  8. Oats and water is a good idea
    My aged seventeen year old wei has a million health issues
    But if you can get your darling to scoff some raw oats it works

  9. My American coonhound has a upset tummy and is vomiting up like foam.(stomach acid I guess) what can I do to help her out she’s about 45-50lbs

  10. My dog is on steroids for itching and has developed diarrhea. She was then started on Carafate, but it has not helped. She is just now stepping down the steroids. Can I give her Imodium to help her get through this rough patch and if so, how much? She’s a lab mix, 10 years old, 93 pounds.

  11. Ok my dog is two will be three in December she has been eating drinking but has diarrhea for two days haven’t changed anything it’s just solid but runny she just can out of heat and don’t get paid until Friday so what can I do to help her at home

  12. I like the white rice and chicken idea BUT sometimes if your dog has tummy upset they are not even interested in food. My vet recommended Kaopectate and gave me the correct dosage which I gave her via syringe.

  13. I give my dog (mutt/mix, 80 lbs) cooked, no sugar added pumpkin. You do need to research for your dog (size/wt). Too much pumpkin can be a bad thing, too.

    1. My Vet has made it clear pumpkin causes a loose stool . Why do i again and again see it recommended in cases of diarrhea.

      1. Pumpkin adds fiber, my vet recommended a tablespoon every once in a while (meaning not with every meal), too much pumpkin makes them sick (loose stool)

  14. This article fails to address the very serious danger Imodium and certain other drugs pose for Collies and some other breeds that have the MDR1 mutation; it should never be given to them. See the Washington State U. Veterinary School website on this risk.

    1. Hi Laura,

      These articles might help if you’re having trouble affording a vet:

    2. You should get your dog insured. That will help with treatment payment. Also most vets will treat an animal to stop its suffering and pain and let you pay bit by bit after. A good vet won’t leave an animal in pain over money

      1. Dont be idiotic. I’d rather see the dog with somone who loves their animal and may not have a whole lot of extra money for whatever reason(u dont know) than placing the animal in a crowded shelter.. I can go on, and on.
        Dont Judge, dont look down on others, only God sits that high… (I know I’m late but just came across this post) Hope doggy is well and Happy!

  15. Thank you so much, I am frantic cause my baby boy chihuahua isn’t feeling well. We changed his dog food from Purina to ONE and his tummy hurts and he had accident on himself and all he wants to do is lay around

    1. Dog’s stomachs often get upset because they lick or eat stuff off the ground or a change of food can do it, too. Pumpkin will stop loose stools, adding a bit of cooked oatmeal will also help firm up stools and take away the straining. Be sure and give your dog Pediolite so they don’t get dehydrated.
      Personally I can’t afford to run to the vet or doctor every time I or my dog has an upset stomach. Lots of natural cures with no harmful side effects.

      1. I agree but what advice can you give me for my boys Max a pitbull and Red a beagle it seems like 1 week 1 has a rumbling tummy like they have a upset tummy and I’m exaggerating about 1 a week it’s just I get stressed out easily and both were street dogs we think Red is almost a old man and Max is almost 2 years and Max is learning to be my seizure help service dog and we’re having to move and rehome Red but can’t find anyone to take him but I want him to be his best when I take him to a no kill shelter.

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