If you observe small, dry, and hard stool in your cat’s litterbox, it indicates possible constipation. Many people consider using Metamucil as a common treatment for constipation in humans.
The question is, does it work for cats as well? In short, the answer is yes. However, let’s delve into the topic further to explore the safety, appropriate dosing, and additional details surrounding Metamucil’s usage for cats.
Before that, let’s gain a better understanding of constipation in felines.
Metamucil for a Layman:
Metamucil, a fiber supplement containing psyllium husk, is a safe option for cats. It works by absorbing water in the digestive system, increasing fecal mass, softening stools, and promoting colon contractions to facilitate bowel movements.
You can easily find Metamucil over the counter at drug stores, grocery stores, and superstores like Walmart and Target. It is readily available without the need for a prescription, making it convenient for cat owners to access.
Metamucil also offers an unflavored version specifically designed for pets, allowing you to easily incorporate it into your cat’s diet. Mixing it with your cat’s food provides a convenient way to administer the supplement without causing any major disruptions to their eating habits.
Understanding Constipation in Cats: Signs, Symptoms, and Litterbox Behavior
Constipation is characterized by infrequent bowel movements or difficulty in passing feces. You may observe your cat exhibiting signs of constipation, such as straining in the litterbox with an arched back and emitting painful meows. The feces in the litterbox may appear hard and dry, occasionally accompanied by blood. In some cases, cats may also experience diarrhea, which occurs when watery stool passes around a fecal impaction.
Due to their natural instinct for privacy, many cats tend to retreat or hide when they need to relieve themselves, making it challenging for cat owners to recognize signs of constipation.
It is important to establish a regular litterbox cleaning routine, ideally every one to two days. By doing so, you can monitor any changes in the amount of feces or the appearance of the stool, such as it being excessively dry and small, which may indicate constipation in your cat.
When cats struggle with defecation, they may associate the pain and difficulty with the litterbox. Consequently, it is not uncommon for constipated cats to defecate outside of the litterbox, choosing alternative locations such as beside the box, on their bedding, or in secluded corners of the house.
How does this Metamucil work?
Metamucil is a fiber supplement that contains psyllium husk. Psyllium is passed through the digestive system and absorbs water. It increases fecal mass, softens the stools, and stimulates contractions in the colon to help push stool out.
Is it safe to administer to your cats?
Do not worry, this is safe to give your cats. Bulk-forming laxatives are helpful in cats whose constipation is caused by too little fibre or where straining to defecate poses a risk. But no one is an expert on its own. So, it is better to consult your vet also about administrating something to your pet. Plus, overdosing, or long-term use is always dangerous. If too much is given, cats may experience abdominal pain and/or diarrhea.
How does Metamucil aid your cat in its illness?
Metamucil will pass undigested through the intestines, absorb water and swell in the colon. The bulk increase in the intestines can stimulate contractions and bowel movements. The increased stool size can help treat anal gland problems. They put pressure on anal glands helping them express themselves. This medication makes stool larger but softer. The major supports provided by Metamucil are:
Sometimes constipation is a symptom of some other problem such as kidney disease. So, you should have a proper diagnosis.
1. Metamucil for cats with Diarrhea and IBD:
Metamucil (Psyllium) can also help to add bulk and firm up watery stools associated with diarrhea and inflammatory bowel diseases.
2. Metamucil for hairballs:
Hairballs are formed as a result of your cat trying to groom themselves. As they lick on their coat, they sometimes swallow hairs that get delivered to the stomach forming balls. When it becomes uncomfortable, your cat tends to vomit up the wad.
Metamucil as a remedy for hairballs:
You can mix one-half teaspoon of Metamucil with water and add it to your cat’s food twice a day. This helps to accelerate the passage of hairballs through their system.
When the psyllium seed husks present in this laxative absorb enough water into the stool, it helps to support the easy passage of the hairballs through the intestine.
Although hairballs are harmless, there are still a few signs of danger you should be on the lookout for. If your cat is vomiting undigested food, has abdominal swelling, stops passing stool, or loses appetite, it is important to check with your veterinarian right away, especially if your cat is suffering from a chronic condition or they are elderly.
Metamucil Dosage for cats w.r.t weight:
Metamucil dosage for cats with diarrhea or for any disease which can be cured by it. Metamucil should be given keeping in mind the weight of your cats. Medicate them according to their need. Moreover, it is better to inform your vet about it also.
1. Powder supplement:
The starting dose for cats is ¼ teaspoon once daily for cats under 8 pounds and ¼ teaspoon twice daily for cats eight pounds and over. If you do not notice an improvement, you can increase the dose by 1/8 -1/4 teaspoon.
You should see an improvement in the stools within a few days if it is going to be effective. Metamucil is very safe in cats but try to avoid overdosing. If you see these signs of illness developing, reduce the dose or discontinue completely.
2. Capsule form:
The capsules may contain 500mg or 1000mg, so make sure you read the bottle carefully. The average cat over 8 pounds should receive 500mg per day. You can either give the capsule whole or open the capsule and mix it with food.
Cats under 8 pounds should receive 250mg psyllium per day. Since it is not available in this strength, you can open the 500mg capsule and mix approximately ½ of the powder in the capsule with food.
Calculator for Metamucil Dose
Ways of administration and Safer dosages
How much Metamucil to give a cat:
1. Wet cat food:
- The recommended dosage for cats is 1 – 4 teaspoons of unflavored psyllium once or twice per day added to wet cat food which is usually recommended for old cats. Be sure the cat is properly hydrated. Always make sure the cat has plenty of clean water to take while taking Metamucil.
- You can mix 1/2 rounded teaspoon into a small amount of canned food every 12 to 24 hours for your cats. The small amount of food ensures that they are more likely to eat the entire dose. It is important to make sure your pet is consuming enough water and staying well hydrated when administrating psyllium (Metamucil).
2. Given with water:
The typical dosage used in cats is 1 to 4 grams given orally every 12 to 24 hours. Metamucil should be given with water and can be mixed with food if necessary.
3. Mitigate Choking Risk
You should try to mitigate the choking risk by breaking the dose into smaller chunks and use a syringe filled with water to add some water into your cat’s mouth. So your cat is safe from possible choking hazards.
Dealing with Metamucil for your cats:
Following are some points to keep in mind when giving Metamucil to your beloved pet.
How much time will it take to effect?
It would take between 12 and 72 hours.
Flavored or Unflavored:
Aside from the dosage, you should also make sure to give your cat the original formula. Give them the unflavored Metamucil variety as cats tend to frown upon flavors such as mint or orange. Avoid any flavored formulas, especially those containing chocolate or the sweetener xylitol, as these can cause toxicity and severe adverse reactions.
Store Metamucil in a closed container at room temperature in a dry location. Keep away from excess water or humidity.
Where can you buy Metamucil?
Psyllium is available in most supermarkets, pharmacies, and health food stores under the brand name Metamucil as well as several generic names. Only use the original (unflavored) powder.
There are also veterinary formulations available.
Drug to Drug Interactions:
Do not administer Metamucil with other drugs, if they are already present in your cat’s system. This is due to the reasons that:
- It may result in increased hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in cats taking antidiabetic agents.
- Metamucil may bind to Digoxin (used to treat congestive heart failure) and reduce absorption. If you still need to treat your cat, separate doses by 3 hours or more.
- It may also bind to and reduce absorption of Nitrofurantoin (used to treat the urinary tract infections) if given at the same time as Metamucil. But, if Nitrofurantoin is prescribed and both (Metamucil and Nitrofurantoin) are needed to administer, separate doses by 3 hours or more if possible.
Metamucil for pregnant cats:
As Metamucil is little absorption by the gut, it should be safe to use in pregnant cats. It has been categorized as category B for use during pregnancy and lactation by FDA. Keep a track of your cat’s pregnancy, which can also be done by touching your feline’s belly. So, you should consult your vet about the ongoing health condition of your cat and then medicate with certain doses.
Is Metamucil Safe for Long-Term Use?
Fiber supplements such as psyllium and Metamucil do not work for every cat and are not recommended for long term use. The increased bulk of the stool can lead to dehydration and can worsen constipation with time. Cats with chronic constipation usually have an underlying medical cause.
Possible medical causes include chronic kidney disease causing dehydration which leads to constipation, compression of the colon from other internal factors such as an enlarged bladder or prostate, enlarged lymph nodes, or trauma to the pelvic canal, a growth in the colon, or megacolon – a condition in which the colon no longer contracts to push stool out.
In all these cases, long term use of fiber additives will make the condition worse.
Side Effects and Warnings:
- The most important thing to pay attention to is definitely the dosage and remember that you should never give your cat more than 1g of Metamucil per pound of weight.
- An allergic or anaphylactic response can occur in rare cases. If your cat displays any symptoms such as itching or difficulty breathing after administration of psyllium, seek veterinary attention immediately.
- Psyllium is generally safe but can be a potential choking hazard, therefore always ensure fresh water is always available.
- Some side effects such as flatulence (accumulation of gas in the alimentary canal) may be experienced while taking Metamucil.
- Metamucil should never be used if an esophageal or other gastrointestinal obstruction is suspected, or in severely dehydrated pets of yours. Metamucil should never be used if a toxic ingestion is suspected.
- If vomiting occurs, use of Metamucil should be seized immediately.
- Overdosing is always harmful followed in any case. It may cause an increased amount of soft or loose stools.
- When administrating the psyllium (Metamucil), keep a keen eye on your cat’s condition. If the cat’s condition worsens or does not improve, stop product administration, and consult your veterinarian.
Alternative to Metamucil for Cats:
Most of the cats may not eat ANY food with Metamucil on it, MiraLax would be a best alternative against Metamucil. This is because MiraLax may help in a much different way with same laxative effect as Metamucil but with the scene of fibre present in both.
MiraLax and Metamucil:
Both Metamucil and MiraLax have a laxative effect. Metamucil uses soluble fiber that dissolves to gel in the intestine to bulk up the stool whereas MiraLax uses osmosis to hold water in the stool, softening it and making it easier to pass thorough the cat’s system.
But MiraLax is a good over-the-counter alternative to Metamucil or psyllium, when dealing with the constipation. MiraLax, no doubt, for those with the IBS (Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome) symptom of constipation, it can provide beneficial relief.
How does the MiraLax work?
The active ingredient in MiraLax is polyethylene glycol. Polyethylene glycol, as the name implies, sounds scary, but it is a very safe product and is not readily absorbed into the bloodstream of the cats. As long as your cat is still able to pass the constipated stool, it’s safe to give MiraLax. MiraLax works as an osmotic diuretic, meaning it pulls fluid into the stool to soften it.
Safer dosage for cats:
There is a wide dose range. It is usually recommended, starting with 1/8 teaspoon twice daily and gradually increasing it. If more is required, go with a maximum dose of 1 teaspoon twice daily. MiraLax is a dose-to-effect drug, meaning that you can increase or decrease the dose gradually in small amounts until your cat achieves optimal stool consistency.
Administration of MiraLax to your pet:
MiraLax comes either in an orange flavor or as a tasteless powder and can be mixed with your cat’s food for easy administration. You can also mix it in water and syringe it into your cat’s mouth.
Effectiveness and Overdose:
MiraLax should have a laxative effect within one to three days.
If the dose is too high, your cat may develop diarrhea, nausea, or abdominal pain.
Other alternatives than medicines:
You can substitute plain pumpkin (Not pumpkin pie filling), which is another acceptable fiber source. Or mashed peas. Or some other cooked squash. You can convince your cat to eat any of the above if you do not want to deal with medicines. There are also many prescription foods available through your veterinarian that have a higher fiber content. If your cat is constipated, the most important thing is to increase his or her water intake.
Diagnostic Procedures and Treatment Options for Constipation in Cats
When dealing with constipation in cats, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic procedures to assess the condition. One common diagnostic tool is abdominal x-rays, which help determine the amount of stool in the colon, identify dilated colon (as seen in cases of megacolon), or detect any physical obstructions that may be causing constipation.
In addition to x-rays, your vet may suggest blood tests to investigate potential underlying causes of dehydration, such as kidney disease. These tests help provide a comprehensive evaluation of your cat’s health and aid in determining the appropriate course of treatment.
To address dehydration and facilitate the movement of stool, your veterinarian might recommend fluids to help rehydrate your cat. It’s important to note that administering a warm water enema at home is not advised without proper veterinary guidance. Improper enema usage or the use of enemas containing phosphate can be harmful to cats and may lead to colon tears.
Another potential treatment option prescribed by your veterinarian is lactulose. Lactulose is a sweet liquid that works by increasing the water content in feces, preventing them from becoming firm and dry. This can help soften the stool and facilitate easier bowel movements for your cat. Always follow your vet’s instructions regarding the dosage and administration of lactulose.
Keeping in view all the above discussed information, fiber supplements, such as Metamucil, are safe and easy to find. They can help relieve minor episodes of constipation, diarrhea, or any other bowel disease in most cats. Do not forget to make sure your cat is drinking enough water to prevent dehydration. But if the condition does not improve within a few days, the best course of action is to take your pet in for a full physical exam by your vet to determine the cause of the abnormal symptoms and then pursue the most appropriate treatment plan.