Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs: Important Things To Know

Have you ever heard of inflammatory bowel disease? Perhaps you’ve had someone in your life tell you that they’ve been diagnosed with it, or you’ve been diagnosed with it yourself. It’s not an uncommon gastrointestinal disease for people to deal with, but were you aware that it can impact your furry family members too? Inflammatory bowel disease in dogs is just as real of a condition, and it can cause many of the same symptoms as humans experience. 

At WINPRO Pet, we believe that animal health conditions deserve just as much attention as the ones that we deal with. Here are what we believe are the most important things to know about canine IBD.

Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease The Same As Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome?

IBS, IBD… What's the difference, right?

Although they sound the same, IBS and IBD are two different conditions. And it’s more than just the difference between a syndrome and a disease. IBS is considered to be a set of different symptoms that generally stay fairly benign and mild in nature. 

IBD, on the other hand, can lead to far more significant side effects and even permanent damage to the colon and other parts of the GI tract. It’s a subtle difference in name, but a far more serious difference in symptoms, treatment, and prognosis. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs 101

Although the way that IBD impacts dogs and humans has plenty of similarities, there’s no arguing that we definitely have two very different body types. That means that inflammatory bowel disease in dogs is naturally different from the same disease that we experience, so you can’t rely on personal knowledge to help understand what your pet is going through. 

When it comes to IBD in dogs, the key word is inflammatory. What IBD does is inflame the lining of the digestive tract (the bowel). It’s this chronic inflammation that wreaks all the havoc in the body, and causes all of the problems. 

With a digestive tract lining that is damaged also comes the side effect of not being able to properly digest and absorb the nutrients from food. It goes further downhill from there, as that lack of absorption can create nutritional deficiencies that can impact the rest of the body as well. 

But what causes IBD in the first place? Unfortunately, that is still something that is being researched by the professionals. 

There are some that think that inflammatory bowel disease in dogs isn’t something that happens all on its own, and that it’s actually a response that the body has to a variety of other underlying conditions, including:

  • Food allergies (often to the protein in their food)
  • A weakened immune system
  • Parasitic infection (Giardia being one of them)
  • Genetic markers
  • Certain bacteria (including Salmonella and e. Coli)

Regardless of the reason, the result is that inflammatory cells invade the lining of the digestive tract. The result is somewhat similar to the way that the body handles an allergic reaction. That’s why so many of the common symptoms will look familiar. 

Are Certain Types Of Dogs More Prone To IBD?

In addition to the underlying conditions that may trigger IBD, people often wonder if their dog’s specific breed could play a part in the disease. 

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. This is far more likely to pertain to purebred dogs. This isn’t a comprehensive list, of course, but here are just a few of the breeds that may be in the higher risk zone:

  • Basenjis
  • Border collies
  • Boxers
  • German shepherds
  • Irish setters
  • Norweigen lundehunds
  • Rottweilers 
  • Soft-coated wheaten terriers
  • Yorkshire terriers

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptoms

When it comes to the symptoms of IBD, much of what you see directly relates to where in the digestive tract the inflammation happens and how severe it is.

For example, if your pup’s stomach is affected, they may experience chronic vomiting issues. This may be triggered or worsened by certain treats or foods. If you’ve noticed issues with the other end, like frequent diarrhea, it’s more likely that their intestines are taking the brunt of it. 

Diarrhea with blood or mucus can point even more specifically to trouble with the small intestines. There are plenty of unlucky dogs who deal with IBD that experience both vomiting and diarrhea, as well.

Another thing to keep an eye out for is weight-related issues. Because of the difficulty IBD causes with being able to absorb nutrients, many dogs who suffer from it have a tendency to continue losing weight. You probably wouldn’t want to eat either if your stomach was constantly hurting! 

Along with that comes obvious changes to your dog’s coat, due to the nutritional deficiencies that also come along with the disease. However, in some cases, dogs may seem to still be eating well (even voraciously, in some cases!) in an attempt to try to help their body to get what it needs. 

How Is IBD Diagnosed?

Because so many of the symptoms of IBD look like other diseases (like the equally serious parvovirus), the first step in treating it appropriately is having it officially diagnosed. 

Unfortunately, this process can get complicated and invasive, as the only way to have it specifically typed and diagnosed is to have the impacted areas biopsied surgically. If you’ve ever had your pet put under general anesthesia (which is what happens when you have them spayed or neutered), you know how nerve wracking that can be! However, if you want to be official, that’s really the only way to do it. 

Also, in addition to having the actual disease diagnosed, your vet may want to do bloodwork to check out the amount of nutrients in their body (like B-12). This can help to know exactly what they need to do to treat them appropriately, like changes to their diet or vitamin injections. 

Treatment Options For Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs

It’s important to note that there is no cure for inflammatory bowel disease in dogs, there is only managing the symptoms. A lot of this involves trial and error, like finding the foods that won’t inflame their system more and giving them the right medications (like antibiotics and steroids) that can keep their system healthy and comfortable. 

Even when you find the right combination, don’t expect it to make a difference overnight. It can take a few weeks of consistent treatment for your dog to start to feel better, but it doesn’t end there either. You have to be consistent with whatever routine you settle into, likely for your dog’s lifetime, because even a little slip can lead to a big flare-up. But your dog is worth it, right? We think so! And we’re confident that, if they could, they would totally do the same for you (plus, isn’t that an adorable thought?).

To Sum It All Up

With an official diagnosis, the prognosis for inflammatory bowel disease in dogs is usually good! It can be scary for your dog to get diagnosed with any chronic disease, and we know that better than most here at WINPRO Pet. If you’re looking for something else to help your dog, our Gut Health supplement was created specifically to help naturally fight inflammation in the gut with the power of clinically-proven blood proteins.

Hopefully this article has prepared you, at least a little bit, even if that does happen to your perfect pup. We believe very strongly that knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your dog. You, and your dog, deserve the very best. 

 

Sources:

IBS vs IBD | Crohn's & Colitis Foundation 

Canine Parvovirus - Digestive System | Merck Veterinary Manual

Cyanocobalamin (B12 or Cobalamin) | VCA Animal Hospital