Imodium is an anti-diarrhoea medication that contains the drug loperamide. Loperamide may be suggested by your veterinarian to treat a cat with a chronic case of diarrhoea, however, treating cats with loperamide is highly controversial and should only be done with the advice and supervision of your veterinarian.
Loperamide or Loperamide hydrochloride is a piperidine derivative that is classed as an opiod (synthetic opiate). Loperamide acts as a weak narcotic that helps alleviate diarrhoea by slowing the movement of the intestines. According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, loperamide can be helpful for managing chronic diarrhoea in cats.
Availability of Loperamide
Loperamide is FDA approved for use in humans and can be purchased without a prescription. It is available from several drug companies under a variety of trade names, generic or store-branded formulations. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association warns that some anti-diarrhoea formulations contain aspirin derivatives (such as bismuth subsalicylate) that are toxic to cats when administered in high doses. If your veterinarian suggests using Immodium or any other loperamide medication for your cat, be sure to check the label on your medications carefully. Contact your veterinarian if the medication contains any ingredient besides loperamide before giving the medication to your cat.
Side Effects of Loperamide
According to a reports published in the Merck Veterinary Manual, a cat that has been overdosed on lopermide may develop constipation, slowed heart or respiratory rates, inflammation of the pancreas and central nervous system disorders such as depression or excitable behaviour. Many cats are sensitive to opiods and can exhibit symptoms of overdose even when dosage levels have been properly regulated.
When to Avoid Loperamide
If your cat is vomiting, in pain or acting lethargic he may have a bacterial infection. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, loperamide should not be used when a cat is suffering from an infectious disease. Because the drug works by slowing movement in the intestine, toxins from bacteria will sit in the intestine longer and more of the toxins will be absorbed into the bloodstream, making your cat even sicker.
Consult Your Veterinarian
Anti-diarrhoea medications like loperamide only treat the symptoms and not the cause of diarrhoea. In addition, treating a cat with any over-the-counter medication that is meant for humans can be dangerous to the health of your pet. For the safety of your cat, consult a veterinarian before using Immodium or other brands of loperamide medications.
Help for Emergencies
If your cat has received an accidental overdose of loperamide or is exhibiting side effects from the drug, contact your veterinarian or an animal poison-control centre. Pet hotlines available include the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) and the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680).