Dogs can suffer from irregular bowel movements just like humans do. One of the most common problems is constipation, which can be treated with Metamucil, a well-known fiber supplement. But is Metamucil for dogs safe to use, are there any side effects and when exactly should you use it?
What Is Metamucil?
Metamucil is a brand name for psyllium, a type of fiber often used as a bulk-forming laxative. Psyllium is a soluble fiber, which means that it passes through your dog’s digestive system without being broken down or absorbed. Instead, psyllium absorbs water and helps regulate a dog’s bowel movements that way.
If you decide to give your dog Metamucil, go with the original formula. Avoid flavored formulas, especially if they contain chocolate or artificial sweetener xylitol, which are both toxic for dogs and can lead to severe side-effects.
While Metamucil is not FDA approved for dogs, it is often prescribed by vets for treating various gastrointestinal problems, including constipation and diarrhea. In fact, Metamucil is available over the counter, so you don’t even need a prescription from a vet. However, it is best to consult your veterinarian before you start giving your dog psyllium.
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Benefits of Metamucil for Dogs
As mentioned before, Metamucil is often given to dogs to help with gastrointestinal problems. Here are some of the most well-known benefits of Metamucil for dogs.
1. Relieving Constipation
Since psyllium is a bulk-forming laxative, it can increase your dog’s stool size and help relieve constipation.
This supplement works by binding itself to partially digested food going through your dog’s stomach into his small intestine. After this, it also helps with the absorption of water, increasing both the size and moisture of your dog’s stools and allowing him to pass stools easier.
One study, although performed on humans, found that psyllium can improve the total weight, texture and moisture of stools better than bran.
2. Treating Diarrhea
In addition to constipation, Metamucil can also help in treating diarrhea. It does so by absorbing water, thus increasing the thickness of stools and slowing down their passage through the colon.
If your dog has diarrhea, consult your vet about the dosage before you give your pooch any Metamucil.
3. Has Prebiotic Effects
Prebiotics are compounds found in the dog’s intestines. They are non-digestible and can help the good intestinal bacteria grow. Metamucil is believed to have prebiotic effects.
While psyllium is resistant to fermentation to some extent, some psyllium fibers can be fermented by bacteria in your dog’s intestines. This can lead to the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which have positive effects on your dog’s overall health.
4. Other Benefits
There are a few other benefits of Metamucil, although there isn’t much scientific evidence available to back these claims up. There have been studies on humans however, so we can safely assume that Metamucil has the same or at least similar effects on dogs.
For example, studies on humans have shown that psyllium can help lower cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels and help with weight loss.
How Much Metamucil to Give Your Dog?
If your dog is constipated or your vet has prescribed Metamucil for his diarrhea, it is important to follow instructions when you give this product to your dog. Although Metamucil is not dangerous, it can lead to diarrhea if ingested in large amounts.
Generally, the appropriate amount of Metamucil depends on your dog’s size, age and health. The rule of thumb says that one teaspoon of Metamucil should be given per every 50 pounds of body weight, twice a day. Basically, small breeds can take 1/2 of a teaspoon with each meal, while larger dogs should be given 2 teaspoons with each meal.
Keep in mind that it is best to consult your vet and take his advice about the exact dosage. Also, remember that it may take a day or two for you to notice the positive effects of Metamucil.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Metamucil is generally safe and side effects are minor and rare. For example, the most common side effect of Metamucil is increased flatulence. In addition to this, diarrhea is another possible side effect, especially if you give your dog too much of it.
Esophageal and intestinal obstruction can happen if your dog doesn’t have free access to water. Hydration is very important when you give your dog Metamucil, so make sure that he has access to fresh water at all times. In fact, you need to encourage your pooch to drink more water if you start giving him psyllium.
Metamucil, or any other psyllium-based drug or supplement, is a bulk-forming laxative used mainly to treat constipation in dogs. However, it can also help with diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.
While Metamucil is available without a prescription and has only minor side effects, you still need to consult your vet before you give it to your dog.
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