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Kaolin Pectin

As a pet parent, you know that your best friends can be at risk for GI upset, specifically diarrhea. Your dog or cat can seem perfectly fine, but then signs of gastrointestinal distress show up in your backyard or litter box—if you’re lucky—or elsewhere around your home if you’re not so lucky. And that’s when you find out that your pet probably isn’t feeling too well.

Diarrhea can be mild or severe and put your pet’s overall health at risk. If your pet has chronic diarrhea or other signs of GI discomfort such as vomiting or lethargy, there is blood in the diarrhea, or you have any other health questions or concerns, your first call should be to your veterinarian.

Kaolin pectin is an over-the-counter medication that is used to treat dogs and cats with mild bouts of diarrhea. Your vet may recommend it if your pet has a mild case, but more aggressive treatment may be required for a severe case. Kaolin pectin contains two beneficial ingredients in one solution. Kaolin can absorb water, toxins and harmful bacteria, which slows the passing of stool. Pectin for dogs and cats promotes binding of harmful bacteria and toxins to calm your pet’s gastrointestinal lining. It can also help prevent dehydration from diarrhea. It is available in an oral suspension and may also be labeled as an anti-diarrheal liquid. Note: Kaolin pectin formulations that contain bismuth subsalicylate cannot be given to cats. They also cannot be given to dogs with aspirin sensitivities. Consult your veterinarian with any questions or concerns.

Since the medication is designed to firm stools, your pet may experience constipation if given a high dose. While kaolin pectin is used for pregnant or lactating pets, be sure to consult your veterinarian first. All use of the medication for pets is considered extra-label, meaning it is not specifically approved by the FDA for use. If you miss administering a dose to your pet, don’t double up—just wait until the next scheduled dose to provide the medication.

Kaolin pectin for cats and dogs may cause your pet not to absorb certain medications such as digoxin and lincomycin, making them ineffective. Be sure your veterinarian knows if your pet is on any medications, especially if they are on an aspirin regimen or is on steroids or NSAIDs. As already mentioned, dogs who are sensitive to aspirin should not be given kaolin pectin solutions that contain bismuth salicylate, and that formula should never be given to cats. Always consult your vet before giving any over-the-counter medications to your pet if they’re on a prescription regimen. Anti-diarrheal medicines should be given two hours before or four hours after other medications. Talk to your vet about specific timeline recommendations for your pet.

Kaolin pectin medications for cats and dogs are sometimes marketed as simply anti-diarrhea medication. It can be found in most pet stores, including your neighborhood Petco Pet Care Center. Our health and wellness aisles can be a great resource for over-the-counter medications that can help pets with mild ailments. We have solutions to a variety of your pet’s prescription needs as well—including a cat pharmacy and a dog pharmacy—so you can get their medications delivered directly to your door. Simply obtain a prescription from your veterinarian and submit it online.

Can I give my dog kaolin pectin?

Kaolin pectin is available for both cats and dogs. Make sure you always use the medicine that is designed for each species since there may be ingredients in kaolin pectin for dogs—like bismuth salicylate—that can harm cats and vice versa. Dogs who are sensitive to aspirin also must avoid bismuth salicylate. Some common reasons why your cat or dog may have diarrhea are:

  • Eating things they shouldn’t Even though you provide your pet with tasty treats, sometimes they’ll get into things they shouldn’t, like your garbage, items left out on the counter and unsavory things they find outside. Dietary indiscretion is one of the most common reasons that dogs develop diarrhea and other GI upset. Kaolin pectin may be helpful in these situations.
  • Food sensitivities Both dogs and cats can have sensitivities to foods. Loose stools may be a sign that they have an intolerance. While kaolin pectin can help alleviate the repercussions of food sensitivities, consult your veterinarian if your pet has frequent stomach issues. They can perform an allergy test or a food elimination trial to find the root ingredient causing gastrointestinal problems.
  • Changing their food Sometimes, changing the brand or formulation of their food can cause stomach upsets for the first couple of days. Mixing the new food with the old food gradually over seven to 10 days is recommended, but kaolin pectin can help with lingering GI upset. Learn more about transitioning your pet’s food in our article How to Transition Your Dog or Cat to a New Food.
  • Stress or anxiety Many pets can experience stress diarrhea while traveling or adjusting to a new environment or new pet—or human—in the family. Pets who experience separation anxiety or other types of anxiety may also benefit from the use of kaolin pectin.

Diarrhea can also be a symptom of severe illnesses, including:

  • Irritable bowel disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cancer
  • Parasites like worms, coccidia or giardia
  • Colitis

Treating mild and occasional diarrhea with an over-the-counter medication like kaolin pectin for dogs and cats may be suitable, but you should always consult your veterinarian if:

  • They experience diarrhea for more than 24-48 hours
  • Your pet is lethargic, feverish or acting differently than normal
  • Your pet is vomiting or not eating
  • Your pet has dry, pale gums
  • Their stool is black or red—both could indicate blood
  • They’re on medication
  • They’re very old or very young
  • They have an existing illness

Your vet may have to prescribe prescription medication like metronidazole or amoxicillin—or other treatments—depending on the cause of your pet’s gastrointestinal distress.

How much kaolin pectin can I give my dog?

You should always follow the dosage directions on the package. The standard dose for cats and dogs is .5 to 1 milliliter per pound by mouth every four to six hours. Shake well before dispensing the medicine. If your pet’s gastrointestinal upset continues after two days of treatment or displays any of the above symptoms at any point, discontinue and consult your veterinarian.

Is Kaolin Pectin safe for my cat?

While kaolin pectin medications for cats are considered extra-label—or not formally approved for use in felines—so many veterinarians have found it effective in helping relieve mild to moderate digestive issues that it’s commonly recommended to cat pet parents. Part of this endorsement is due to its extremely mild side effects and an absence of other risk factors. However, because kaolin pectin is considered an extra-label medication, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions very carefully when administering, as they are most knowledgeable about its effective use. Note: Cats cannot take kaolin pectin formulations that contain bismuth subsalicylate.

Reviewed by Dr. Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, DACVPM

As Petco’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Miller is the lead veterinary subject matter expert, overseeing the company’s standards of excellence in animal care and welfare, growth in pet services and much more. Dr. Miller leads Petco’s medical team, supporting over 200 full-service hospitals and mobile vaccination clinics operating in over 1,000 Petco Pet Care Centers nationwide

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