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IBD in Dogs

inflammatory bowel disease in dogs

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

Inflammatory bowel disease is probably something you’ve heard about in humans but dogs get this syndrome as well. It can be scary when your dog is sick but by having knowledge about a condition and what you can do, it makes it easier to handle.

Here is all you need to know about inflammatory bowel disease in dogs. What it is, why it happens, and preventative measures along with treatment methods.

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) occurs when a dog’s stomach and/or intestine becomes home to an unusually high number of inflammatory cells. Some claim that it is a syndrome rather than an actual disease and this is true in the sense of it being caused by a specific reaction to chronic irritation of the intestinal tract.

It is important not to confuse inflammatory bowel disease with irritable bowel syndrome. Some of the symptoms are similar but they are very different syndromes.

What Causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs?

There are a variety of variable that may contribute to this syndrome in dogs. Some claim it can be food allergies, genetics, or even an abnormal immune system. What most agree on though is state by VCA Hospitals:

In most instances, an exact underlying cause cannot be identified; however, possible causes include a parasitic or bacterial infection (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli, or Giardia) or a reaction to a specific protein in their diet.

So while there are different circumstances that cause inflammatory bowel disease, it seems that parasites, bacterial infections, and certain proteins are typically the main culprits.

What Are the Symptoms?

According to Pet WebMD:

Chronic vomiting is a common sign if the inflammation is affecting a dog’s stomach and/or upper intestine. Long-term diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus may be due to inflammation of the colon. Clinical signs may come and go, and sometimes the entire gastrointestinal tract is affected. A dog may also lose his appetite, seem melancholy, run a fever or lose weight.

How is it Diagnosed?

If you have a dog exhibiting symptoms which include vomiting and diarrhea, you will want to see a vet. The most important aspect of getting this under control is to reduce and end the diarrhea and vomiting that your dog is experiencing. The vet will take a few tests that include fecal examinations, blood testing, and imaging of the intestines by either X-ray or ultrasound. This allows them the knowledge of if the stomach is only involved or if it includes the intestines as well.

In a few cases, a veterinarian may recommend either a full abdominal exploratory surgery or an endoscopic procedure. Doing this gives the pathologist tissue samples to work with so that they can see which type of inflammatory cells are present in the biopsy.

Other tests are the measure of folate and the measurement of the levels of vitamin B12 in the blood.

These examples do not mean that your dog will need all of the tests. Some tests are sufficient on their own; it depends on the severity of the problem and what is going on with your dog’s health.

Treatment of IBD in Dogs

The most important thing is to get treatment for your dog. Long-term vomiting and diarrhea can be fatal so while IBD is not, the symptoms can be.

While there isn’t a “cure” for inflammatory bowel disease, there is treatment that can take the syndrome under control and minimize the symptoms. These include the following:


There are certain medications that may be helpful and used in conjunction with other methods of treatment. There are antibiotics such as metronidazole that help with the inflammation in the dog’s GI tract. Probiotics are another medication that can help restore the natural balance in the stomach. These are the same as what humans take to have a healthy gut by adding healthy bacteria. Other medications include anti-inflammatory drugs like prednisone. Yet, this is a drug to be used with caution due to its side effects .


If the inflammatory bowel disease is being caused by the dog’s diet, there may be trial runs of a different diet to see if that helps the problem. There are different diets that may be used including a high fiber diet, low residue diets, or a diet that includes food that is hypoallergenic. The problem with diet treatments is that it takes about six weeks to see if it is helping the problem. Sometimes even up to 12 weeks.

B12 Supplements

Since inflammatory bowel disease causes dogs not to be able to absorb B12, this is a supplement given by injection under the skin.


This is necessary since fecal tests don’t always showcase parasites in the GI tract.

What About a Prognosis?

The good news is that inflammatory bowel disease in dogs is highly treatable. While this may be treatment for life through certain diets or medication, most dogs respond well to treatment methods. Some can even go off of medication eventually while others may go into a remission type of state where no symptoms show up for quite a while until it needs to be addressed again.

If your dog is having issues with vomiting and/or diarrhea, it is crucial that they are taken to see a professional. We know that vet expenses can be exorbitant so It is advisable to have pet insurance to avoid the massive veterinary bills that can add up.

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