26 July 2014

Cats: The Use of MiraLax

My Robbie has a problem with constipation.  This may be due to low motility of his colon, or thickening of his intestinal tract as part of the development of intestinal lymphoma, or simple dehydration.  Whatever is the exact cause, the result is his feces are very hard and dry.  They don't come out easily, so he will strain for over an hour which in turn causes him to vomit.

Not the most pleasant thing at 3 am.  Or any time really.  And since this is nearly identical to what happened to Bertie, who died a year ago from lymphoma, it's hard.

Thankfully, someone suggested MiraLax, which is the trade name for polyethylene glycol 3350.  It's classified as an osmotic laxative, because it works by pulling water into the intestine to make the feces softer and easier to pass.

The only concern is the warning on the bottle:  "Do not use for more than 7 days."  My main concern was that it might prevent some nutrient being absorbed.  After some research and some discussions with people who used it on cats, it seems this warning is for two things:

  1. To encourage people/owners to have problems checked out if the problem does not resolve itself.  Or in simpler terms, the company is covering its legal ass if there is a major undiagnosed problem.  Okay, with Robbie, I know he's got intestinal issues and maybe the beginnings of lymphoma.
  2. To prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.  This is very reasonable since it does pull water from the body.  And the fix is simple -- give him fluids with electrolytes.
So for the last couple of weeks, Robbie gets 1/4 tsp of MiraLax and 50 ml of fluids every other day.  The MiraLax is dissolved in 1-2 tsp water syringed into his mouth.  The 50 ml of fluids is lactated ringer's solution given subcutaneously. He neither minds the syringed fluid (which seems to have no taste) nor the sub-Q fluids.  And the results have been great!  He now has firm but not hard feces which pass easily.

In my discussions, some people have used upto 2 tsp of MiraLax daily for several years without any reported problems.  This is encouraging so if he starts having more issues then I can up the dose.

Now, to me, this was what the internet was designed for -- I had a problem, people shared their experiences, some shared links, and everyone learned more.  There was no nastiness.

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