What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition in which the lining of an animal’s digestive tract becomes irritated and inflamed, often causing vomiting and diarrhea. This irritation often impairs the animal’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients. The cause or causes of this syndrome are mostly unknown, but may have to do with the immune system improperly targeting a harmless component of the animal’s food. This disorder is not to be confused with a food intolerance or accidental consumption of foods that are harmful to dogs, such as onion or chocolate. Those symptoms are acute (temporary), whereas IBD is chronic.Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, is a general category of gastrointestinal diseases, presenting with continual symptoms (such as vomiting and diarrhea) and evidence of immune cells congregating in the affected tissue. This is accompanied by severe and often damaging inflammation to the lining of the gut. The causes of many diseases in the IBD category are unknown.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs
- Weight loss
- Refusal of food
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Swelling and irritation of the abdomen
- Abnormal behavior
Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs
Unknown. Most evidence points to miscommunication between “danger-sensing” cells leading to overreaction from immune system.
Diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs
IBD is often a diagnosis of exclusion, with no specific abnormal findings on a CBC, x-ray, or other biochemical test. If your dog has exhibited signs of gastrointestinal distress for more than a day, see your veterinarian.
Before diagnosing an IBD, the veterinarian will attempt to rule out other likely causes of gastrointestinal upset, including parasites, roundworms, or bacterial infections. A stool sample is the first diagnostic test that will usually be conducted. Examination of your dog’s feces could identify worms or parasites such as Giardia, and usually a course of antibiotics will be given to rule out a bacterial infection. However, if the antibiotics do not resolve the disease, IBD may be suspected.
Poor absorption of nutrients, such as protein and calcium deficiency, are a side effect of IBD and can be detected with a blood test. X-ray imaging can also reveal excessive gas or fluid in the GI tract, and swelling of the small intestine. Non-regenerative anemia (iron deficiency) also points toward a chronic condition, wherein the bone marrow is unable to replace blood cells quickly enough.
If no other obvious cause is uncovered by these tests, the veterinarian may order an endoscopy, where a camera mounted on a tube used to explore the esophagus, stomach and upper small intestine. Your dog will be sedated for this procedure and will experience only minimal discomfort. Biopsies (tissue samples) will be taken from a number of areas and examined microscopically for abnormally high immune cell counts and ulceration.
Finally, if no other bacterial or environmental toxins can be identified as the cause of the symptoms, the veterinarian will diagnose IBD.
Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs
Treatment for IBD focuses on ameliorating the symptoms of the condition: reducing diarrhea and vomiting, stimulating weight gain, and aiding nutrient absorption by decreasing inflammation. This may be done by trying to identify if anything in the dog’s diet, while normally dog-safe, might be provoking a reaction. In some cases dietary modification alone can correct IBD, but in many cases medication such as anti-inflammatories, anti-emetics, and immune system suppressants will be required to control IBD. The specific type and dosage of these treatments will depend on the veterinarian’s diagnostic findings and the specific case.
Recovery of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs
IBD carries a guarded prognosis, as the quality of life for pets with this syndrome can be poor. However, some pets do respond to treatment, and if proper medication and dietary restrictions are followed, can lead a healthy and enjoyable life. Owners should monitor their pet’s diets, and under the direction of a veterinarian may need to provide alternate meals such as lamb, chicken and rice, or add additional sources of fiber, which in some cases has been shown to improve symptoms of IBD.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Our pug was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease about 6 weeks ago. She had about 2 months of intermittent vomiting (1-2 times/week), otherwise acting normally--eating, happy, energetic. We saw our regular vet multiple times and everything was normal (blood, stool, urine, exam). About 2 months into this she had a very large stool (twice the size of normal, still formed) but with globs of mucous and blood flecks. I snapped a pic and went back to our vet--dx inflammatory bowel disease. We started her on a hypoallergenic diet, B-12 shots, daily probiotic, and anti nausea med. She was excellent for about a month. Then 2 weeks ago started to flare again. Initially just intermittently having a stool with blood/mucous strands. Still eating/acting normally. Then yesterday she got worse--5 stools (normally has 1 per day). The first was firm, the second softer with some mucous/blood. The next 3 progressively softer/looser, with mucous/blood and the last one was pure mucous with blood flecks. She also vomited once yesterday (she hadn't in weeks). She is still acting ok. She last ate yesterday morning (we held off feeding her dinner) but she's still drinking water and urinating. Our vet had mentioned if this worsened and she didn't respond to conservative treatment we would proceed to seeing a vet gastroenterologist for scope and possibly steroids. We're wondering what we should do in the meantime with this flare. Of course it's a weekend and a holiday week next week, so our veterinary office is short staffed and we may not be able to get in. We don't want to go to the emergency vet clinic since she's otherwise acting OK. Any further advice on diet/treatment/approaches would be most appreciated.
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My dog's stool has mucas and blood with diarrhea. I have searched over Internet I think he is suffering from IBD. He is also vommiting and not eating anything . He is active while he goes on walk. But after that he sleep all the time. I think he also have pain in stomach
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Second time he's had this flare up of IBD. Moved him from royal canin French bulldog adult dry food to royal canin canned gastro intestinal. He was given 3 injections by vet - anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic and an anti-nausea. Vet provided us with 3 anti-flammatory tablets and advised to keep him on vetinery diet for 1 month.Diarrhea has stopped but regurgitation still present. Sometimes white foam sometimes clear juice. Sometimes catches it in mouth sometimes ends up on floor. If pieces of food present he will eat it all back up from floor. What are the signs of recovery to look out for? The first time was 6 months ago and after no improvement we returned to vet. X-ray performed and vet thought he saw foreign object. Nothing there just inflamed intestines. Vet massaged the intestines back to normal size and that was that.
Dietary disorders and bowel inflammation can be difficult disorders to manage and may require numerous trial and error treatments as well as elimination diets. Different treatments are available depending on the section of intestine affected. Signs of recovery are just a general improvement in the symptoms, it may be a case of feeding a different diet (Hills have some different sensitive diets; or homemade diets of lamb and rice or venison and rice). Blood tests may be useful to look at albumin levels and other parameters which may give an indication to other underlying causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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