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Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Dogs

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Dogs

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in dogs is a painful condition that affects the stomach and intestine. In this blog, our Baton Rouge vets discuss inflammatory bowel disease in dogs, including its causes, signs, and treatment options.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

When an unusually high number of inflammatory cells end up in a dog's stomach and/or intestine, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can become an issue.

These cells cause changes in the lining of the dog's intestinal tract, affecting how food is absorbed and passed. 

IBD can be hard to diagnose, and dogs may have many of the same symptoms you'll see in other serious illnesses.

Though symptoms may appear similar, IBD is not the same as irritable bowel syndrome, which is caused by psychological stress instead of physiological abnormality.

Causes of IBD in Dogs

The reasons behind IBD are not fully clear - it's not certain whether it's a disease itself or a response to other body conditions. Contributing factors may include an abnormal immune system, bacteria, parasites, genetics, or food allergies.

Vets might find it challenging to pinpoint the exact cause in a specific dog. Treatment decisions could be based on how the dog responds to different therapies. 

While any dog can be diagnosed with IBD, breeds that seem especially susceptible include Norwegian Lundehunds, Boxers, English Bulldogs, Irish Setters, Rottweilers, Shar-Pais, German Shepherds, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, and Basenjis.

Signs of IBD in dogs

If you find your dog is suffering from the following symptoms, this may be an indication he's suffering from IBD:

  • Bloody or long-term diarrhea
  • Chronic vomiting 
  • Constipation
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depressed or melancholy mood
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Keep in mind that clinical symptoms may come and go, and part or all of the gastrointestinal tract can be impacted.

Diagnosing IBD in Dogs

If your dog is displaying the symptoms above, book an appointment with your veterinarian. Because these symptoms can indicate many conditions or illnesses (including serious ones), it's important to have your dog evaluated and tested.

These diagnostic tests may include ultrasound, complete blood cell count, radiographs, serum chemistry screen, and microscopic fecal examination. Following these, your vet will typically perform a biopsy (the definitive method of diagnosing inflammatory bowel disease).

Biopsies are usually performed only after other conditions that could be causing your dog's symptoms, such as organ diseases or parasites, are ruled out. After your vet performs the biopsy, he or she will know the type and quantity of inflammatory cells in the intestinal wall.

Treating IBD in Dogs

Your dog's inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can't be cured, but your vet can help manage it with medication and diet changes. There may be a trial-and-error period involved in finding the right combination of food and medications to manage the disease.

You and your veterinarian will need to work closely so that any required changes in routine can be made safely. One bright spot is that some dogs are eventually able to stop taking medicine daily and may need it only when they have bad episodes.

Diet for a Dog With IBD

Many dogs will respond well to dietary therapy. While there is no specific food that's ideal for every case of inflammatory bowel disease in dogs, we recommend diets with:

Highly Digestible, Low-Residue Foods

Dogs more easily digest some food than others. Especially if your dog's GI tract is inflamed, fiber and fat will likely be more difficult to digest. Food that's high in moisture will probably be easier to digest than a dry diet.

Minimal Additives

Very simple food, without any additives, is likely best. Additives that can potentially cause an immune reaction should be avoided.

Novel Protein Diet

Proteins in dairy, chicken, wheat, and beef are most likely to cause a reaction in dogs with IBD, which may be an immune system reaction to food.

Choosing allergen-free food is a key IBD treatment. New proteins won't trigger the immune system, improving your dog's condition. 

How Long Dogs Can Live With IBD

If your dog has been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease  (IBD) and responds well to treatment,  the outlook is usually positive. Many dogs will remain on their prescribed medications or food for life, though it may be possible to reduce the dose of medications over time, with supervision from your vet.

Depending on your dog's situation, they may be able to stop drug therapy. While most dogs do well for many years, others require changes in therapy or treatment every few months. Unfortunately, some dogs will not respond to treatment.

Because severe cases of IBD in dogs can lead to intestinal cancer, it's crucial to diagnose, manage, and closely monitor IBD as much as possible to prevent complications. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition.

Is your dog showing signs of inflammatory bowel disease? Contact Our Baton Rouge Vets to have your pup diagnosed and treated.

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Kleinpeter Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Baton Rouge companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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