The pancreas is an amazing organ with two crucial functions. It produces hormones involved in the control of blood sugar levels, and it produces digestive enzymes. Both of these functions are vital for survival.
When the pancreas fails to produce digestive enzymes, food passes through the digestive system undigested. Which means that regardless of the amount of food your dog eats, they are starving. It figures that the most typical symptoms are chronic diarrhea and weight loss. German Shepherds are particularly prone to this disease.
If your dog is having pale, greasy diarrhea and losing weight, do see your vet.
Weight Loss, Brittle Fur, Starving All The Time ... Beaner’s Story (Part I)
Beaner Has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: Beaner’s Story (Part II)
Why do you need a prescription? What's the difference between the brand name, trade name and generic name of a medication? Is there a difference between the brand name version and the generic version of a medication? Where can I get my pet's prescriptions filled? Why should I consider getting my pet's medications from my veterinarian? If I choose to get my pet's prescriptions filled elsewhere, can my veterinarian refuse to give me a prescription? Can my veterinarian charge me a fee for writing a prescription for my pet? My veterinarian is telling me that I have to bring my pet in for an examination before they'll write a prescription or authorize a refill. Why? What are the risks of ordering from an online pharmacy? How will I know if there are problems with the medications I get from a pharmacy?
Find the answers to these, and more in AVMA's exhaustive article on prescriptions and pharmacies for pet owners.
Purchasing Pet Drugs Online: Buyer Beware (video)
Online Pet Pharmacies: Protect Yourself and Your Pet: Be Online Pet Pharmacy A.W.A.R.E.
Did you know that Imodium is actually a synthetic opioid, which puts it in the same family with morphine, oxycodone, and similar drugs? I did not know that. With this class of drugs, constipation is a common side effect. Loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium doesn't do much for pain, but it is so notorious with this side effect, that it became the primary reason for its use. I had no idea.
Only once during all the years I've shared my life with dogs, I had Imodium on hand to potentially use to control diarrhea in my dog. It was after Cookie had an adverse reaction to sedation which included liquid gushing from her rectum. This wasn't even diarrhea as you know it; it was quite terrible. Since shortly after Cookie needed to be sedated again for the platelet-rich plasma treatment, I was naturally concerned. We changed the sedation protocol and took other measures to prevent all that from happening. Part of the contingency plan was having some Imodium ready.
An important note here, it needs to be plain loperamide, without any other fancy stuffs they put is some of the OTC Imodium products.
Fortunately, everything went well with Cookie's sedation, and we didn't need to medicate her at all.
Something like this is just about the only situation when I would consider treating the diarrhea directly. By something like this I mean situation when I KNOW what the cause of the diarrhea is and the diarrhea itself is a serious enough problem that it needs to be curbed. I would never use Imodium to randomly treat diarrhea of unknown origin. I would never use Imodium to treat diarrhea without talking to my vet first. Nipping a symptom at the bud doesn't do anything for the underlying cause. That, in my opinion, is very risky right there. Wouldn't do it.
Plus, Imodium can cause some serious side effects such as constipation, severe sedation, bloat and even pancreatitis.
Read Dr. Coates' thoughts on the use of Imodium for dogs.