IBD in dogs is not a fun subject to discuss. It’s just as uncomfortable for your dog as it is for you. You obviously want to do everything possible to prevent or reduce your pet’s IBD symptoms, but with so many different options out there and so much conflicting information, it can be hard to know where to begin.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), is a disorder in which the intestines become inflamed, often as a result of an immune reaction.
It is also known as chronic enteritis, or granulomatous enteritis.
If you have a dog suffering from IBD, it’s important to understand what exactly this condition is, how it manifests itself and how it can be treated.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), also known as chronic enteritis or granulomatous enteritis, is an inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract in dogs. It can be diagnosed by means of blood tests and imaging studies. Inflammatory Bowel Disease can affect any age group but it most commonly affects middle-aged dogs.
IBD can be diagnosed by means of blood tests, biopsies and imaging studies.
If a diagnosis cannot be made, a trial of anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended to see if symptoms subside.
As IBD can be difficult to diagnose, blood tests are typically the first step in evaluating your dog’s condition. These may include a complete blood count (CBC), which checks for anemia, infection or inflammation; a chemistry panel that measures electrolytes and other body chemicals; and a urinalysis to check for signs of kidney disease, diabetes or protein loss in urine.
Blood tests are used to evaluate the immune system as well. A test called C-reactive protein (CRP) can detect inflammation throughout the body and is often elevated when there is intestinal inflammation present. A fecal occult blood test can also be done on your pet’s feces to evaluate for hidden bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract.
Signs of IBD include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, poor haircoat, flatulence and abdominal pain.
Unfortunately, IBD is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether. If your dog is showing any of these signs, it’s important to see your veterinarian immediately:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Poor haircoat (dry skin)
- Flatulence (gas)
Itchy skin around the rectum or anus also may be a sign of IBD.
Some dogs with IBD have sensitivities to some types of food.
Some dogs have sensitivities to certain ingredients in their food. These are not necessarily allergens, but rather ingredients that cause problems in other ways. Some examples of foods that might cause symptoms for dogs with inflammatory bowel disease include:
- Grains (like corn)
- Wheat and gluten-containing grains
- Dairy products (this includes cheese and yogurt)
Some dogs have intolerances to ingredients that aren’t necessarily allergenic for them but can cause symptoms in other ways.
For example, some dogs can’t digest certain types of carbohydrates well so eating foods with those carbohydrates causes loose stools.
It’s important to understand that some dogs have food intolerances, food sensitivities, and even food allergies. However, it’s also important to note that there are often subtle differences between these conditions.
In general, a dog is said to have an allergy when they produce an immune response against something they’re sensitive to (e.g., pollen or dust mites). Dogs with true allergies often show signs of sneezing, itching or scratching around the face and neck area as well as redness in the eyes or ears due to inflammation caused by histamine production when exposed to this allergen.
In addition to foods to avoid, there are specific types of diets that are beneficial for certain dogs with IBD.
While food that is high in fiber can be beneficial for certain dogs with IBD, there are also specific types of diets that are beneficial for some.
- High-fiber foods include whole grains and vegetables, which also tend to be low in fat and protein. These are good choices for dogs who do not have IBD but need weight loss or maintenance. Foods rich in these ingredients include brown rice, barley, oats (e.g., oat bran), quinoa and lentils.
- Foods that are low in fat and protein can help keep your dog’s weight down if your vet believes this is necessary to help manage his/her condition (many vets recommend keeping the stomach stable while treating IBD). Low-fat options include white rice or potatoes without the skin; fish without skin (e.g., cod); skinless chicken breast; boiled boneless turkey breast; egg whites; cottage cheese; plain yogurt — avoid flavored yogurts which usually contain sugar (which increases inflammation).