View Full Version : Is flagyl over prescribed to our cavaliers?

Joanne M
23rd December 2006, 03:12 AM
I keep reading posts in which upset tummy issues with our cavs are being treated with flagyl, an antibiotic. Tucker was prescribed it twice in one month. The 2nd time I told the vet I had concerns giving Tucker such a powerful antibiotic when his previous stool sample revealed no parasite and there was no other sign of bacterial infection, other than loose and bloody stool on one occasion. The vet told me flagyl was also an anti-inflammatory. It still concerns me, because I've always believed that over prescribing antibiotics had potential side-effects.

I am currently under the belief that his loose stool was due to his diet, rather than an inflammation in his tummy or intestines, or bacteria, or parasites.

Does anyone know anything on this topic?

23rd December 2006, 03:54 AM
When I first got Kingston we had major diarrhea issues from the start. I was literally taking him to the vet once a month for about five months. The vet would give him a round of antibiotics and the diarrhea would go away for a couple weeks. I decided to change foods. I started a slow switch from Eukanuba to Canidae Chicken & Rice. I was mixing the two, but the diarrhea still came back. Finally, I cut out Eukanuba completely and....EUREKA! No more diarrhea!

The antibiotics were only alleviating the problem momentarily, but never actually curing it. It was a food issue all along.

Barbara Nixon
23rd December 2006, 12:25 PM
I'm lucky as my lot have iron guts and can happily change foods with no problem. The only very very rare upsets have been sorted by a 24 hour fast followed by a couple of days on chicken and rice.

23rd December 2006, 04:14 PM
Cody had the same issues as Kingston. He had horrible diarrhea CONSTANTLY for the first 2 months we had him. It was horrible. The vet kept perscribing antibiotics and it was the same thing. Temporary relief (for all of us) then it would come back. We switched him from Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul to Wellness Venison formula and it was instant. We figured since he had diarrhea anyway that switching immediatly couldn't worsen it at all. No joke, that night he had firm poo. The first in weeks.

23rd December 2006, 07:24 PM
I've needed flagyl several times for different things, but with the cats, not the dogs. It is regularly used for gut problems when worming doesn't help and prior to testing for food allergies. I've never found it to be over prescribed. Most vets actually have people go through a number of things before trying antibiotics (usually withholding food then bland food, then maybe worming, and finally something like flagyl) . I remember some previous discussion in which someone -- perhaps Rory's mom -- noted that flagyl can have a side affect of helping with diarrhea even if not actually addressing the actual problem hence it often improves short term then returns when the animal comes off flagyl. It also can take a few treatments to nail a problem with flagyl, not the first run; or a different antibiotic. In the case of one of my cats (Pippa), she had to be wormed twice in a row, then was on flagyl and another antibiotic for three weeks -- which FINALLY nailed a chronic diarrhea problem that the vets could not resolve. She literally leaked liquid feces and I did not know if I could possibly keep her as a result. My vets told me sometimes if you just blast the gut it will clear these things. She has never had a single soft stool in since, in seven years.

Diarrhea that is chronic is far more likely to be caused by something like coccidia or other bugs than food senstivities though -- I have yet to own a single dog, or encounter one via rescue, that is food sensitive. But I have had a lot of both cats and dogs that have needed flagyl to deal with gut problems. Weak immune systems of rescues often mean they are susceptible to overgrowth of organisms that otherwise live in balance in the gut. Rescue cats/kittens in particular have needed flagyl to sort out problems -- at least a fourth of them end up needing it in my experience (cats coming in from semi-feral situations in particular).

Consider as well that chronic diarrhea can be life threatening for puppies or weak dogs/rescues and it is important to try and address this right away hence vets in my experience will try a number of common approaches to rectify the problem usually without doing fecal tests and so forth (I think only once have I had a fecal done). That generally means worming, then something like flagyl. Many animals in this situation do not have the luxury of the time needed to try a food chanegover to see if it is an allergy or food sensitivity -- it often takes at least two weeks for a food switch to begin to help.

24th December 2006, 01:32 AM
I keep reading posts in which upset tummy issues with our cavs are being treated with flagyl, an antibiotic. Tucker was prescribed it twice in one month. The 2nd time I told the vet I had concerns giving Tucker such a powerful antibiotic when his previous stool sample revealed no parasite and there was no other sign of bacterial infection, other than loose and bloody stool on one occasion. The vet told me flagyl was also an anti-inflammatory. It still concerns me, because I've always believed that over prescribing antibiotics had potential side-effects....

karlin, i think that was me, one of my vets said that flagyl has the added benefit of being an anti-inflammatory for the bowel when i asked what was the point of giving it repeatedly.

joanne, zack had bloody diarrhea the day i brought him home. i took him right to the vet, with a stool sample, and flagyl was prescribed. They didn't say to change his diet or anything. The stool sample was negative. They said it won't always show anything but that flagyl usually works. The flagyl worked immediately, the same day i think. no more diarrhea.

I finished giving him the pills for 7 days. Then about a week later, i took him for his last vaccination. He'd already had the other two before i got him. a couple of days after the vaccination, the diarrhea returned. They prescribed the same flagyl again, same dose, same 7 days. The second time it didn't work as fast and on the last of the 7 days, Zack, who no longer had diarrhea, began vomiting and looked sick for the first time, listless, not eating or drinking, took him to the emergency room, went to the vet the next day, they gave him a shot for the vomiting and he was ok for about one day, and then he got bloody diarrhea again. They said to give Flagyl again. This was not making sense to me. I asked why it had worked so well, but then kept coming back, and i was told that one of the fortunate benefits of flagyl was that it had an anti-inflammatory effect on the bowel, independent of antibiotic properties. So apparently, the reason the symptoms cleared up was because the medication treated the inflammation. zack continued to have vomiting and diarrhea. The vet said they could do exploratory surgery or endoscopy, there was nothing else to try.

at that point i went to a new vet. She took him off the flagyl and put him on salicylamide. He seemed better for a day or a day and a half, then vomiting came back and his eyes started tearing. Damage to tear production is the most common side effect of salicylamide. when i took him back to the vet two days later, she added flagyl back and continued salicylamide but reduced the dose, because of the tearing--which he hadn't had before that. He continued to have vomiting every other day, she gave him reglan for that and ointment for his eyes, plus the two antibiotics. But then, she changed the antibiotics to Tylan, which is another one that is an anti-inflammatory for the bowel. It's an antibiotic for hogs and elephants, but it helps with colitis in small animals.

poor little zack, he was full of drugs plus whatever was making him sick, and the drugs weren't helping. The vet said she was "stumped" and said the next thing to try was a barium study ($600 ch-chingggg). She did put him on ID diet but it didn't make any difference. She also

then i went to another new vet. She said to continue to medications he was already on, and she prescribed somehtnig else for the stomach, instead of reglan, pepcid i think, and she also prescribed Dontral Plus, a broad spectrum deworming medication. About the deworming, she said "I'd hate to miss that diagnosis." I was cringing at all these medications, and no improvement after a month and $1000. I waited a couple of days to give him the Dontral Plus, i stopped his other medications first. And i did it at a time when i could be with him and watch him. He did have a strong reaction to the Dontral Plus, he got really hyper and agitated and wasn't himself at all, he coudln't sleep and he was climbing the walls, literally, it lasted all night. BUT, from that day on, there was no more vomiting or diarrha..

I kept waiting for it to come back but it never did. :D

Throughout this whole thing, i never saw a single worm. but the ordeal was over after the deworming.

Altogether he had 3 negative stool samples, but if i ever have to go through anything like that again, instead of having the stool samples a week apart or whatever it was that i did, next time i will have them on about 4 consecutive days because i've read that it's easy to miss them unless you do that.

He had to take a second dose of the Dontral Plus, that was the prescription. After the reaction he had, i was scared to give it to him again. The vet called the company and they said it occasionally happens, and to break the pill into two pieces, i think, or four. I don't remember now, i gave it to him over a two day period and he didn't have a reaction that i could see.

These drugs are potent chemicals and i relate to your caution about it.

Joanne M
24th December 2006, 11:38 PM
Tucker did not have severe diarrhea. He had it intermittently from the time I got him. I'd say almost every other week, he'd have a couple of extremely loose stools, and on occasion explosive and watery ones. He also had the bilish spit-up, weekly at least. My concern is, flagyl may have helped with inflammation, but it did not address the issue, of his diet. Which I have come to believe is the reason for the diarrhea and bilish puke to begin with. The food I was giving him was not meeting his nutritional needs (I don't think). So if I continued on as the vet advised and only fed him IAMS kibble, nothing else, I think I would have been returning everymonth for more flagyl. I must say right now, I'm new to this so, I may very well eat my words if his loose bowels come back on this new more nutritious diet. My niece has Crohn's disease, she takes flagyl, long-term, prolonged use, at least in humans has potential side-effects, like everything else. Also, I have heard/read about the stomach getting bleached out from too much antibiotics, good bacteria disappears with the bad. So though I appreciate the positive side-effects of flagyl that you are reporting, I wish I had gotten a better explanation from my vet. I also wish my vet had more experience with cavaliers. There just aren't enough of them around here, for her to gain it.

My good fortune in getting the benefit of the wisdom on this board, presented me with the information I needed regarding the importance of feeding him high-quality kibble. I also stopped feeling guilty for dis-regarding the vets advice about feeding him, fruits, veggies and supplemental proteins like poultry, beef, cottage cheese, etc...

25th December 2006, 12:28 AM
....My good fortune in getting the benefit of the wisdom on this board, presented me with the information I needed regarding the importance of feeding him high-quality kibble. I also stopped feeling guilty for dis-regarding the vets advice about feeding him, fruits, veggies and supplemental proteins like poultry, beef, cottage cheese, etc...

Free at last, free at last.... :D

even if the loose stool were to return, it wouldn't necessarily mean that flagyl was the answer, or other antibiotics. Nor would it necessarily mean you were wrong in suspecting something dietary. Lots of people try many nutritional things before finding something that works for them, it's such an individual thing.

In zack's case, neither antibiotics nor diet played any role or made any difference in his symptoms. They continued without any improvement while on boiled chicken and white rice, and ID diet, and premium low allergen kibble. I'm lucky i stumbled on one vet who wanted to rule out something the other vets weren't considering, something that the people i consulted on dog health mail lists hadn't considered either. i just got lucky.

may tucker continue to thrive on what he's eating now and may firm poos be naturally abundant in your lives. :)

25th December 2006, 12:38 AM
The rescued greyhound we had at home was prescribed via phone!!!!
Not even in a visit to the vet!!!!

:? :d*g:

Joanne M
25th December 2006, 01:33 AM
lol @ judy.

Cathy T
25th December 2006, 02:48 AM
Jake took flagyl frequently as a puppy due his tummy problems. The flagyl was fine for controlling the symptoms until we figured out what was wrong. Once we got his tummy issues addressed...no more need for the flagyl.

25th December 2006, 06:03 AM
And for a young dog often what is needed is to deal with the symptoms. It is all very well to want to know what the 'problem' is but often, there's no quick or easy or definitive answer -- and there may never, ever be a clear answer -- and meanwhile the animal is extremely uncomfortable with the symptoms.

So many puppies and kittens have on/off digestive issues when young that disappear when they reach about one that I think getting overly worried if diarrhea is intermittant and relatively mild is probably not just stressing out the owner but -- as dogs easily pick up on anxiety -- means we risk exacerbating the situation by worrying and fussing over the dog.

Also, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with IAMS, though I'd personally choose something else -- it is a heck of a lot better quality than anything sold in the supermarket, for example. Still, many of us continue to feed supermarket foods with no hassle at all; and any of us who have owned dogs for any length of time will have fed them entirely on extremely low quality food probably their whole lives and probably with NO problems at all. Even a very basic supermarket food will easily satisfy the basic nutritional needs of a dog. Most dogs also have very robust digestive systems -- a lot more robust than ours! They can eat decomposed food and tolerate bacteria that humans cannot. Unless someone has an ultra sensitive dog/one with serious allergies to ingredients in IAMS, there's no way I;d cionsider this a deficient or problematical food. It is more that many prefer a food with better quality protein sources etc.

If a dog is having on and off runs I'd check for worms, check for some chronic stomach issue (which is just what your vet has done), then just try shifting to a good quality kibble that does not have poultry or beef or grain and which is good for sensitive stomachs and try that for 4 weeks and see if the dog improves. After that, if there's nothing really distressing to the dog about occasional runs, quite honestly I'd just relax, and see if it goes away over time. I also do not think a cavalier is so unique (especially regarding diet or tummy upset) that it matters a jot if the vet is familiar with the breed or not -- as long as you know the key breed health issues: MVD, SM, and the fact that cavaliers often have large platelets. I take a LOT of cavaliers to the vets -- on average, several a month -- and *not once* has the vet needed to have any special insight into cavaliers to deal with any problems.

Sometimes I think we need a little perspective as well on the whole diet issue (the cynic in me has to observe how fortunate we are to be able to have the luxury of such concerns over our pets' diets when there are people all over the world going to bed starving...). If anything, the main difficulty for most pets in the western world is not 'raw or cooked', the protein source, whether there is rice or rice hulls, holistic or organic, or a preservative in the kibble, it is that it will be OVERFED and its health will be far more compromised by too much food of all sorts including too many (pricey designer) treats. It is somewhat obscene, the amount of choice and luxury alloted to our pets at any typical pet shop while people are eating in soup kitchens and living below the poverty line in many of our cities and towns... icon_nwunsure Maybe it is a good time of year to relax a bit more about the things that don't need to be stressed over as much as they sometimes are. :)

26th December 2006, 01:05 PM
I agree with this Karlin; there are times when I watch my dogs tucking in to their christmas dinner leftovers, or sleeping blissfully in a soft bed.. or playing with their extensive toy pile, and I realise that there are children all over the world for whom this 'dog's life' would be a taste of heaven. And it is obscene, really...

I have to admit too that if I hadn't encountered this board, I may well still be feeding pedigree chum complete, which suited Holly moderately well- although she has done *much* better on Wainwright's. Then again, I've been blessed in that neither of my pair have had any real serious tummy problems; Holly has had it a handful of times in three plus years, and always due to a specific cause that was easy to identify. I've yet to find the food that upsets Amber :lol: !

26th December 2006, 03:18 PM
When King had almost severe diahrea he was put on tylan sm powder...the first time it took almost 10 days to fully cure him...then the 2nd time it only took bout 3 days...

But I would think that over prescribing an anti-biotic would kinda have the same effect on the dogs that it does use...

27th December 2006, 10:24 PM
Couldn't agree more, Karlin. I only got my two some very practical stuff for Xmas and they had the usual food for their dinners with just a few veggies (same as every other day). I don't like giving the boys rich foods anyway - I have to clean up after them and it can't do their tummies any good :(

As for the subject of Flagyl, no dog I have ever owned has been prescribed it (well, not with me they haven't - can't speak for before they came to me, like Charlie). I once had it for a cat that was quite poorly & made a wonderful recovery within 24 hours of taking the first dose but I myself was prescribed it a few years ago.

I had had some gynae surgery and afterwards was quite poorly. I kept getting recurrent infections in the wound and also extremely bad thrush infections no matter what I did. In the end I couldn't even keep any food or liquid down & was dehydrated, my mouth was red raw & even the insides of my nose were all weepy. My GP got the swabs back from the labs and it transpired that it was a hospital infection so he prescribed Flagyl as the other antibiotics hadn't worked. Two days later I felt so well and never got any more symptoms again :flwr:

27th December 2006, 11:59 PM
Cripes!! Poor Donna. I'm fascinated by the fact that the same drugs can be prescribed for animals and humans! Logical I suppose, but I had never realised it til I came on here!