Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs is a condition that happens when inflammatory cells invade the stomach or intestines, resulting in chronic gastrointestinal symptoms. Inflammation is caused by an abnormal immune system response, though what triggers that response is not well understood when it comes to IBD in dogs. Some breeds may be predisposed to the condition, and food allergies and bacteria hypersensitivity may also be factors. IBD is not the same as inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), as IBS does not cause inflammation, ulcers, or damage to the bowels and is a less serious condition, though there are some similar symptoms. If you see the signs of IBD in your dog, you should consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Here is what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for IBD in dogs.

Symptoms Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs

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The symptoms of IBD in dogs are generally chronic and more severe than those of IBS. If your dog shows persistent signs of gastrointestinal distress, they need veterinary attention. Chronic inflammation can cause permanent damage to organs. Symptoms of IBD may come and go or vary in intensity. Here are some of the symptoms often seen in dogs with IBD.

  • Chronic vomiting
  • Long-term diarrhea
  • Blood or mucus in stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loud noises from the abdominal region (grumbling or gurgling)
  • Poor coat health
  • Dehydration (due to vomiting or diarrhea)

Causes Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs

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The causes of IBD in dogs are not very well understood. Genetics, food allergies, parasites, hypersensitivity to bacteria, or immune system abnormalities are thought to be factors in the development of the condition. Food allergens that may affect IBD include meat, additives, artificial coloring, preservatives, milk, and gluten. It is also suspected that certain breeds are predisposed, including Basenjis, French Bulldogs, Irish Setters, and Lundehunds. Middle-aged to older dogs are more prone to developing IBD, as well.

Treatments For Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs

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Treatment for IBD in dogs is focused on managing symptoms, as there is no “cure” for the condition, and even when it is under control, relapses are common. In emergency cases where vomiting and diarrhea have caused dehydration, dogs may be given intravenous fluids until they have stabilized. This is especially the case for dogs that are continuously vomiting, as giving fluid orally may result in further vomiting.

IBD in dogs is usually managed through a combination of dietary changes and medication. Hypoallergenic diets are often prescribed. Because inflammation is an immune system response, immunosuppressive drugs might also be prescribed, along with antibiotics if bacterial hypersensitivity is suspected as a cause of IBD. The right combination of drugs and dietary changes is somewhat based on trial and error, as IBD can have different causes, and it affects different dogs individually. Some dogs are eventually able to stop taking regular medication and only take it as needed. The prognosis can range from excellent to poor based on the severity of the condition, so early treatment and following veterinary instructions are critical.

Does your dog suffer from IBD? How do you manage the condition? Let us know in the comments below!