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Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs (Canine IBD)

Nicks J
Canine IBD is a gastrointestinal disorder that is typically marked by vomiting, loss of appetite and bowel dysfunction. To know more about treatment for IBD in dogs, read on.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that usually affects the middle-aged and old dogs is a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract in which the either or both the small and the large intestine are involved. IBD probably occurs when the immune system invades the tissues of the intestine.
This abnormal immune response causes inflammatory cells to get stuck in the lining of the intestine. In most cases, lymphocytes and plasmacytes are the two types of inflammatory cells that invade the intestine. Due to the inflammation, the intestines significantly lose their capability to absorb nutrition.


A biopsy will help to find out whether inflammatory cells have increased substantially in the intestinal wall. A biopsy involves removing a tissue of the intestine through exploratory surgery and examining it under a microscope. Sometimes microscopic examination of stool samples is done to look for parasites, like giardia or eggs of intestinal worms.
Blood tests
Laboratory tests of the blood sample can help to detect the signs of IBD in dogs. Blood tests can confirm the increase in the number of inflammatory cells.


Symptoms may differ depending upon which part of the intestine is inflamed. Vomiting is commonly observed, if the small intestine is involved. The dog suffers from diarrhea, when the large intestine is affected. Many times, vomiting and diarrhea occur frequently. In such cases, the dog loses appetite, resulting in drastic weight loss.
In general, following are the symptoms of canine IBD.
  • Difficulty in bowel movement
  • Mucus in the stool ( feces is watery)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Swollen abdomen


The exact cause of this gastrointestinal disorder is still not clear. Certain factors can increase the risk of developing this gastrointestinal problem. Besides unnatural immune response, the condition may occur due to poor diet, parasitic infections, food allergies, and adverse drug reactions.


Corticosteroids such as prednisone may be recommended as they restrain the immune system, in turn helping to reduce the inflammation of the intestine. Medications like Pepto-Bismol may help to reduce vomiting and diarrhea. A change in the dog's diet is also essential to alleviate the condition.
The dog must not be fed on wheat, dairy, animal or corn-based products as long as the symptoms do not subside. A high protein diet is suggested by veterinarians. The diet should be free from preservatives, coloring agents, and additives.
Intake of natural supplements such as probiotics and glutamine will help to nourish gastrointestinal (GI) tract with healthy bacteria, thereby accelerating the recovery process. Herbs such as licorice and plantain, can also be used as they are effective in reducing inflammation. Herbal remedies are always a better option as corticosteroids come with severe side side effects.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this story is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.