When your dog isn’t well it’s stressful on both of you. To heal his upset tummy and diarrhea there are lots of options. The most common prescription from your vet is for Metronidazole.
So before you consider it, you’ll want to know what the FDA isn’t telling you. And even what the manufacturer has to say about this drug.
But first, here’s what else you need to know about Metronidazole for dogs. This includes how the medication works as well as how it can hurt your dog. And then you’ll learn about natural remedies you can use to heal your dog’s upset tummy.
The Problem With Using Metronidazole for Dogs With Diarrhea
Metronidazole is also known as Flagyl. It’s an antibiotic that can stop diarrhea … but it can do more damage than good. Do you really want to treat your dog’s diarrhea with a drug that can take a heavy toll on his long-term health?
There’s no need to rely on this drug when there are better natural options you can use!
Two common causes for diarrhea are the parasites giardia or coccidia. When your dog’s infected with these parasites, they’ll multiply and cause him to lose control of his bowels.
Metronidazole stops these parasites by suppressing the DNA enzymes that help these parasites thrive. So the drugs should help your dog’s gut settle down and get back to normal.
But the problem is the relief doesn’t last. Metronidazole doesn’t actually fix the issues at the root of your dog’s diarrhea.
Recent studies have questioned the efficacy of Metronidazole for dogs. One clinical trial treated dogs with acute hemorrhagic diarrhea with Metronidazole, Amoxicillin or Clavulanic Acid. The dogs showed little improvement.
So it’s not clear that Metronidazole is even effective for dogs. As of 2021, the FDA hasn’t even approved veterinary use of this drug. And the manufacturer’s prescribing information comes with a warning that Metronidazole “has shown to be carcinogenic in mice and rats.”
Why You Shouldn’t Use Metronidazole for Dogs With Diarrhea
Prescribed medications often have some worrying adverse effects. And so does Metronidazole. Here are some of its side effects:
- Blood in urine
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive drooling
- Tremors and seizures
- Irregular heartbeat
- Head tilt
- Dilated pupils
- Nystagmus (rapid back and forth eye movements)
- Muscle stiffness
It’s reported in veterinary journals that most cases of toxicity involve either very high doses or long-term smaller doses. But it’s common for vets to give Metronidazole for chronic diarrhea … sometimes for the dog’s life!
Metronidazole can cross the blood-brain barrier, so veterinarians use it for central nervous system infections. And that means it can affect your dog’s nervous system. This video shows how one dog responded to the drug.
Long-term risks are also associated with Metronidazole. Dogs can develop a rare condition called Heinz body anemia. Pregnant dogs shouldn’t take Metronidazole as it can cause birth defects.
Another problem with Metronidazole is it kills all bacteria … not just the bad ones. Your dog’s gut needs beneficial bacteria to support his digestive system and immune function. So this antibiotic can do long term damage to your dog’s gut. When you use it to treat chronic diarrhea, it’ll increase your dog’s tendency to get gastrointestinal problems and even allergies.
Try the holistic approach instead of giving Metronidazole to your dog. There are plenty of natural solutions like these that can help. And they won’t risk your dog’s future health.
Natural Remedies For Your Dog’s Diarrhea
Here are a few natural remedies that work well:
Fast Your Dog
When treating a sick dog, many opt to add rather than subtract. But often, removing food can be a more successful strategy.
Fasting gives your dog’s digestive system a break to let it heal and get over the upset. Some dogs fast themselves naturally when they don’t feel well. If this happens, let him be and don’t urge him to eat.
Even if your dog seems hungry, try skipping meals for at least 6 to 24 hours. He can have water as long as he keeps it down. When your dog’s symptoms start to improve, slowly reintroduce food back into his diet.
Feed Healthy Foods
When your dog feels better, start with something simple, bland, and nutritious. Bone broth is a good choice. You can serve broth on its own or add it to light amounts of meat and mashed vegetables.
Pre- and probiotic foods are good additions to help rebuild his gut health. Probiotics help balance beneficial bacteria in the gut ...and prebiotics feed the probiotics, making them even more effective.
Or, you can buy supplements with pre- and probiotic for your dog.
Add Supplements and Extracts
Here are some supplements and herbs to manage your dog’s upset stomach:
- Slippery Elm: This herb causes mucous secretion, which can relieve your dog’s stomach. Give a ¼ tsp of powder for each 10 lbs of body weight. Mix powder into food or yogurt.
- L-Glutamine: This amino acid can heal cells inside your dog’s intestines. Give 500 mg per 25 lbs of body weight per day.
- Marshmallow Root: Generations use this herb to treat digestive problems. In tincture form, 0.5-1.5 ml per 20 lbs, 2-3 times per day. Or give a supplement that contains marshmallow root.
- Digestive Enzymes: These improve digestive function by preventing malabsorption.
- Bach Flower Essences: Bach flower remedies can calm your dog’s emotional stress and stress-induced diarrhea.
The Last Word On Metronidazole For Dogs
Metronidazole is never a good solution for your dog’s diarrhea. There are better natural solutions to help his upset stomach.
Metronidazole is only a temporary solution. It suppresses your dog’s symptoms for a while … but it doesn’t actually cure your dog’s underlying gut issues.
So you could find yourself giving Metronidazole to your dog long term for a chronic problem. And that leads to some frightening side effects.
Always go with a natural approach when it comes to your dog’s health. Your dog will appreciate it!
Shmalberg, Justin, et al. A Randomized Double Blinded Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial of a Probiotic or Metronidazole for Acute Canine Diarrhea. Front. Vet. Sci. 04 June 2019.
Igarashi, Hirotaka, et al. Effect of Oral Administration of Metronidazole or Prednisolone on Fecal Microbiota in Dogs. PLoS One. 2014; 9(9): e107909.
Kiefer, David. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Integrative Medicine. (Fourth Edition), 2018.
Whitney, Marlyn, S. Heinz Bodies. Clinical Veterinary Advisor: The Horse. 2012.
Written By Joanne Keenan
Joanne is a writer on the Dogs Naturally Content Team. For 20 years, she’s been committed to maintaining a multi-dog household reared on raw meat, whole foods and good manners. She coined “chew factor” as her method to keep her first puppy pair occupied by chewing on frozen raw bones. With interests in human and canine nutrition and fitness, she is finally using her journalism background to explore interests close to her heart and her dogs.