Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can affect your dog's stomach and intestines. Detecting it can be tricky. In today's post, our Oakwood vets explain how to manage (IBD) in dogs, share some of the symptoms of IBD in dogs, and some of the recommended foods for dogs with IBD.
What is inflammatory bowel disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD in dogs is a long-lasting inflammation in their stomach and intestines. This inflammation happens because certain cells that shouldn't be there causing problems with digesting and absorbing food.
Once these inflammatory cells reach your dog's stomach and GI tract, they change the intestinal tract's lining, impairs food absorption and passing.
It is easy to confuse inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which has similar symptoms. However, these conditions have very different causes. Irritable bowel syndrome is most often due to psychological stress, whereas inflammatory bowel disease stems from a physical abnormality.
What causes IBD in dogs?
The exact reason for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs is not clear. Whether this condition is a disease or a defensive response to other conditions is yet to be settled. Some factors that may contribute to IBD include genetics, food allergies, an abnormal immune system, bacteria, and parasites.
Figuring out what's causing IBD in a specific pet can be challenging for vets. This means treatment can involve trying different things and seeing how your pet responds.
IBD can affect any breed of dog, but some appear to be more susceptible than others, including Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, Boxers, Norwegian Lundehunds, English Bulldogs, Irish Setters, Rottweilers, Shar Peis, German Shepherds, and Basenjis.
What are the signs of IBD in dogs?
If you notice that your dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be an indication that your pup is suffering from inflammatory bowel disease:
- Chronic vomiting
- Bloody or Chronic diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Picky eating
Pet parents should note that symptoms of IBD can come and go and vary in severity. If your dog is experiencing symptoms of IBD, contact your veterinarian to book an examination for your furry friend. While these symptoms can point to IBD, they can also be associated with a number of other serious health conditions in dogs.
How is IBD diagnosed in dogs?
If your dog has inflammatory bowel disease symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic testing to help determine the underlying cause of your pup's symptoms. The most common tests used to diagnose IBD in dogs are ultrasound, complete blood cell count, radiographs (x-rays), serum chemistry screen, and fecal exam. If your veterinarian determines that IBD is the most likely cause of your dog's symptoms, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
But they'll only do a biopsy, which will typically only be performed after other conditions that could be causing your dog's symptoms (such as organ diseases or parasites) have been ruled out. The biopsy results will show what kind and how many inflammatory cells are in your dog's gut. This helps your vet decide the right treatment for your furry friend.
What is the treatment for IBD in dogs?
There is no cure for IBD in dogs, but your vet will likely prescribe medications and dietary modifications to help manage the condition. Treating IBD is definitely not an exact science, so be prepared for a potentially lengthy period of trial-and-error when treatment for your dog's inflammatory bowel disease first begins. Just like people, every dog is different, so finding just the right combination of food and medications to manage your pup's IBD is likely to take some time.
Your veterinarian will work closely with you to make sure any changes to your dog's routine are safe and give your dog the best results possible. That the changes to your dog's routine can be made safely and offer your dog the best possible results. Once the condition is well under control, many dogs can stop taking medicine daily and may only need it when they experience symptom flare-ups.
What food should I give my dog with IBD?
Many dogs with inflammatory bowel disease respond well to dietary changes. Although there is no specific food that's ideal for every case of inflammatory bowel disease, your vet may recommend one of the following diets for your pup:
- In dogs and people alike, some foods are more easily digested than others, particularly if your dog's GI tract is inflamed. Fiber and fat can be more difficult for dogs with IBD to digest, whereas foods that are high in moisture (canned foods) may be easier for your pup to digest.
- Feeding your dog a diet with simple ingredients and a few additives may help to alleviate his IBD symptoms. Some additives have been found to cause an immune reaction in some dogs, so they should be avoided whenever possible.
A Novel Protein-Based Diet
- Proteins found in dairy, chicken, wheat, and beef can occasionally cause an immune system reaction in dogs. Choosing foods free of common food allergens that could aggravate your dog's inflammatory bowel disease may be part of the treatment plan. The logic is that if a dog consumes a protein that they have never consumed before, the immune system will not be triggered to respond.
Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can usually have a good outlook with a special diet and treatment. Your dog might have to stick to this diet forever, but once the IBD is managed, you might be able to cut down on their medications under your vet's guidance and only use them when their symptoms come back.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.