How safe is Metamucil for dogs? If you have ever gotten a constipated dog, most of the questions that would be running through your mind are: What is the best drug of choice for a constipated dog? Since humans also get constipated, can we give our drugs to them?
Constipation! The mere thought of it makes one shudder. Everyone has experienced constipation before. There is no human who hasn’t. Tell us we are lying.
Constipation in dogs is no different. The stress, the sweat, the pain, yup, everything you go through when you are constipated can be felt by a dog.
What is Metamucil ?
If you have ever had a constipated dog, you might have been given Metamucil to administer to your dog at home.
Metamucil is a 4-in-1 fiber supplement given to dogs with constipation. It is the brand/trade name for Psyllium, a bulk-forming drug used as a laxative. Psyllium comes from a shrub-like herb, Plantago ovata (blond plantain), which can be found worldwide but more commonly in Asia.
The psyllium husk, from which the laxative is derived, is obtained from the plant’s tiny seeds.
Being a soluble fiber, it passes through the stomach and intestines of your dog’s stomach without being digested. Instead, Metamucil attaches itself to the undigested food and absorbs water and fluid in the intestine, giving your dog a soft and easy stool to pass. In a nutshell, Metamucil can be said to help regulate bowel movements in dogs.
The Advantages of Metamucil for Dogs
There are a lot of benefits behind metamucil administration.
- The most common one is to alleviate constipation. But, aside from helping to regulate your dog’s bowel movement, it also increases the size of the stools. At this point, you might be scared. Won’t it cause problems because the size of the stool is big? It won’t because the stools are soft.
- Metamucil can also be used to treat diarrhea. How ironic you might say, huh! Metamucil does this using the same mechanism as treating constipation. It helps in diarrhea cases by absorbing water in the intestines.
This increases the thickness and size of the stools and thus, reduces the rate of the stool passage through the colon (a part of the large intestine), reducing the frequency of diarrhea.
- The prebiotic effect has also been proven to be one of the greatest benefits of Metamucil. Prebiotics are natural compounds found in the intestines of dogs. These compounds, usually carbohydrates, are not digestible and facilitate the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria (fun fact: we all have several good bacteria in our intestines).
Psyllium serves as food and nourishment for healthy intestinal bacteria. These healthy intestinal bacteria ferment the psyllium when it is swallowed. This fermentation produces short-chain-fatty acids, which promote the health of your dog. They do this by powering the cells of your colon. They also increase blood flow, water absorption, and muscle activity of the colon.
All these, in a nutshell, prevent your dog from being constipated.
- Metamucil supplements, when given regularly, ensure that your dog has the required fiber intake to help live a healthy life free from constipation.
- Another benefit of Metamucil is that it helps reduce blood sugar levels. This fiber supplement makes one feel fuller for a longer period of time, decreasing hunger and reducing food intake, which increases the sugar level in the blood.
It also forms a gel on the surface of the intestine. This reduces the absorption of sugar in the body, as sugars are rapidly absorbed when there is no covering. In effect, the gel covering of Metamucil reduces blood sugar levels.
- Metamucil is also beneficial in reducing cholesterol levels. This is done by trapping cholesterol in the form of bile with the stool. This makes the liver use the Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), which is bad cholesterol, to make more bile for fat digestion. Hence, reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Even though not proven in dogs but humans, other benefits of Metamucil include helping with weight loss. This is done by reducing food intake by making the body feel full for longer periods and decreasing calorie intake.
Administering the Correct Dosage of Metamucil to Your Canine
It is important to follow the prescribed dosage from your veterinarian since drugs given in the wrong dosage can become toxic to your dog. The amount of medication to be given usually depends on certain factors such as age, weight, breed, and health.
Generally, it is accepted that one teaspoon should be given to a dog weighing 22.7 kg (50 pounds) twice a day. This means that small breed and toy breed dogs up to 20 pounds (9kg) should be given half a teaspoon twice daily, medium dog breeds up to 20-40 pounds (9kg – 18kg) should be given one teaspoon twice daily, and large dogs breed above 40 pounds (> 18kg) should be given two teaspoons twice a day.
It is essential to follow this dosage unless otherwise stated by your veterinarian. It may seem like a small prescription, but you don’t need a lot of Metamucil for it to be effective. Always remember that Metamucil should always be given with a meal.
Known Side Effects and Risks of Using Metamucil for Dogs
Every drug has side effects, and we’re sure you already know this by now. But we’re sure what you didn’t realize is that not all side effects are harmful. There are other beneficial side effects too.
Side/adverse effects occur when an aspect of the drug’s function is not required when it is being taken. The dangers of side effects increase with the amount of the wrong dosage taken. If your dog is showing any signs of side effects, take him to the nearest vet clinic immediately.
The side effects of Metamucil are minor and rare. The most common side effect is an increase in flatulence and bloating. The flatulence is caused as a result of the by-product of the fiber digestion – gas.
Some of the gases might cause abdominal pain, which should cease within a few days of taking the drug. However, if the gas seemed to be trapped in the abdomen, you would have to take your dog to the vet clinic.
The next common side effect of Metamucil is diarrhea. If your dog is given too much Metamucil for constipation, it will cause the dog to have diarrhea since it would serve as a laxative instead.
Other side effects of Metamucil are vomiting, rectal bleeding, severe constipation, and stomach pain.
The severe side effects of Metamucil are esophageal obstruction and intestinal obstruction due to dehydration. This works by forming a semi-solid mass to push blocked stool through the digestive tract. This blockage can cause choking and severe abdominal discomfort.
It is vital that your dog has access to water and is hydrated well during Metamucil administration. This is because the drug absorbs water in the intestine to help form the size and moisture of the stool. Thus, lack of water would cause a visit to the ER when it wasn’t planned.
How to Give a Dog Metamucil
Metamucil is mixed with food for dogs. Your vet would suggest the drug should be combined with wet food (canned dog food). This is because wet food has a lot of moisture and water and prevents clumping and obstruction of the bulk fiber.
One can also prepare a broth or water to add your dog’s kibble (dry food). Mix the Metamucil with it and administer it. No matter the mode of administration, always ensure that your dog has a lot of clean water to drink.
Is Metamucil for Dogs Even Safe?
Yes, Metamucil for dogs is safe. However, when you decide to buy one over the counter for your dog, make sure to go with the original unsweetened flavor. Flavored ones, especially those containing xylitol and chocolate, are harmful to dogs and cause severe toxic effects.
Metamucil is not FDA-approved for dogs yet, but veterinarians prescribe it for treating dogs with constipation and other gastrointestinal diseases.
It is vital to give the correct dosage of Metamucil to your dog. Wrong dosages can become toxic and end up harming your pet.
Can Metamucil be Used For Cats Too?
Absolutely! Metamucil can be given to cats for the same reason as one would give it to a dog. However, it is essential to cross-check the dosage with your veterinarian.
In giving Metamucil to cats, mixing the drug with a small amount of canned food is essential. This ensures that your cat gobbles down all the medication given.
FAQ’s on Metamucil for Dogs
Can I give my dog Metamucil for constipation?
Yes, one can give Metamucil to dogs for constipation. Since it is sold over the counter, it is the most frequent and common drug of choice for constipation in dogs. However, no matter the age or how healthy the dog is, it is essential to check with your vet first to rule out other medical conditions.
Can you combine Metamucil in a dog’s food?
Yes, you can combine Metamucil with your dog’s food. However, it is usually advised to mix it with the food instead of just sprinkling it on top.
Metamucil should never be combined with hot liquids. This is because when the medication is added to hot liquids forms a gel quickly, which might cause choking and obstructions in your dog.
Hence, you should ensure that the broth (if you are using kibble) cools down first.
How long does Metamucil for dogs take to work?
Drugs need to be broken down by the body and distributed to the right places before working. Some are faster, and others are prolonged. This depends on the type of drug taken and the method of administration.
Metamucil takes about 12-72 hours to work. Thus, if you don’t see it working immediately, do not be alarmed. Administering Metamucil together with a highly digestible diet makes it work faster than a diet that is not digestible.
What causes constipation in dogs?
A lot of things can cause constipation in dogs. Some of these include:
- Swallowing of certain foreign bodies/objects
- Lack of fiber in the diet
- Blocked anal glands
- Lack of exercise
- Certain intestinal diseases
- Excessive weight
- Some medication (side effects)
- Matted hair around the anus due to lack of grooming
- Rectal tumor
- Trauma around the pelvic region
It is advisable to check out with your vet when your dog is constipated, as it could be a sign of many diseases or a result of many outcomes.
How will I know if my dog is constipated?
Dogs can’t tell if they are constipated. Thus it is up to you to know the signs of a constipated dog. A constipated dog will often strain, cry, whine, or hunch over awkwardly during defecating.
Dogs usually poop one or two times a day. Hence, if your dog is pooping less than this, it is a sign that it is constipated. Some dogs would also poop in small quantities more frequently when they are constipated.
Also, a dog’s poop which is small, dry, and hard, is a sign of constipation.
How can I prevent constipation in my dog?
Constipation can be prevented by giving your pet a lot of water. Water is vital when it comes to regular and normal bowel movements. It softens the stool and ensures easy passage.
Feeding food rich in fiber is also critical. The fiber in the diet increases the size and weight of the stool and softens it.
Exercising your dog can also help prevent constipation. This is because exercising helps reduce the amount of time food passes through the stomach. This limits the amount of water absorbed from the food, giving your dog soft, moist stool. It will also improve blood flow to the bowels and helps reduce the strain of muscle contractions.
Giving your dog probiotic supplements helps improve the overall digestive health of your dog.
What alternatives can I give my dog for constipation?
Alternatives to Metamucil include canned pumpkin or pure pumpkin puree, which can be bought or made at home. This contains a lot of moisture and fiber, which is good for a constipated dog.
Canned dog food contains a lot of moisture and bran cereal. However, due to its insoluble fiber, it is another excellent alternative.
The Final Say
Metamucil is safe and can be administered to your dog when it has constipation. Aside from effectively treating constipation, it also has a lot of health benefits. Even though the drug’s safety has been established, it is essential to always give the recommended dosage.
Although Metamucil can be bought over the counter (i.e., purchased without a prescription), it is better to consult a veterinarian before buying it for your dog. This is because constipation can be a sign of so many diseases.
Akosua is a Veterinary Medical Student at the University of Ghana. She likes writing during her free time and sharing her knowledge about veterinary medicine (she found the perfect combo here 🙂 ). Her passion is to inspire Veterinary professionals and change the perspective of animal love in developing countries through her work and writing.