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Kaopectate for Dogs: Uses and Side Effects

Diarrhea, one of the most common symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) problems in dogs can be treated with kaopectate. The medication targets the bacteria that are often responsible for this. The following DogAppy article elaborates more on using kaopectate for dogs.
DogAppy Staff
Did You Know?
Kaopectate that contains bismuth subsalicylate should not be given to cats, since our feline friends are sensitive to salicylate formulations.
Kaopectate is essentially a human formulation but can be safely used in dogs. It is used for the same purpose as in humans, to treat digestion problems. The medication also acts as an antacid, and has antibacterial properties, which may help to resolve digestive issues in dogs. It is available in both liquid and chewable forms. Usually, the liquid formulation is preferred since it is flavored which makes it easier to administer. The chewable tablet is usually crushed and then sprinkled over dog food.
  • Kaopectate may be prescribed to settle a dog's stomach upset that is typically marked by diarrhea. It is essentially an antidiarrheal medication that can help treat mild cases of diarrhea.
  • Minor gastric troubles that cause cramping, nausea, and vomiting may also be treated with kaopectate. Due to its antacid properties, the medication may also provide relief from stomach ulcers.
Mechanism of Action
  • The main constituent of kaopectate is bismuth subsalicylate, which can destroy certain bacteria, particularly E. coli. It is able to bind bacteria and subsequently kill them, which may help in controlling diarrhea in dogs.
  • Kaopectate as an antacid helps to lower the amount of acids secreted in the stomach, which may work to relieve stomach ulcer symptoms that include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and heartburn. Bismuth subsalicylate, the active ingredient in kaopectate may also impair the activity of H. pylori bacteria that is responsible for causing stomach ulcers in dogs.
  • Kaopectate may also reduce inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining. The active ingredient is also said to act like a protective covering over the lining of the stomach, which may help in the healing of ulcers.
Side Effects
Kaopectate, particularly when not given in the appropriate doses, can have some bothersome side effects. However, in general, the medicine is found to be safe and is unlikely to cause any serious side effects.
  • Your dog can become constipated with kaopectate. However, this generally occurs when a higher dose of the medicine is administered. Change in stool color is yet another side effect. So dogs put on kaopectate may produce darker or black stool.
  • The medication can also cause fatigue, which can make your pet lethargic.
  • Fever and abdominal discomfort have also been observed in dogs put on kaopectate. You can sense the discomfort by touching its stomach. These side effects are a cause of concern and should be immediately brought to the notice of your veterinarian.
  • In case your pet vomits after being administered the medication or suffers from other side effects like poor eyesight or involuntary movements, you need to immediately take your pet to the veterinary clinic.
The dosage will vary depending upon the weight of the dog. The general guideline for daily dose of kaopectate in dogs is 0.5 - 1.5 ml for every pound of weight. Usually, a 10 ml dose (1 teaspoon = 5 ml) is given for every 10 pound weight of the dog. This daily dose is split in 2 to 4 doses and usually given every 6 hours.
  • Since kaopectate has been formulated for humans, you need to monitor your pet's health carefully when put on this medication. Check how your pet responds to kaopectate doses. In case you notice that your pet's digestive issues that include diarrhea and vomiting, are not improving even after 2 days of medication, it is necessary to contact a veterinarian.
  • The active ingredient (bismuth subsalicylate) present in kaopectate is related to aspirin, hence dogs who are allergic to aspirin should not be put on this medication.
Although the medication is available over the counter, a prior consultation with your vet is a must before giving it to your pet. Apart from giving the medication, ensure that your pet has enough supply of drinking water, so as to prevent dehydration associated with diarrhea.
Also, for the first 24 hours, avoid giving any solid food. Your pet should be put on a bland diet that essentially consists of boiled rice and some cottage cheese. After a couple of days, slowly start adding regular food into your dog's bland diet. Feeding yogurt is also recommended as it contains good bacteria, which can be helpful to soothe the dog's gastrointestinal tract.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.