How to Treat Irritable Bowel Disease in Dogs (Canine IBD)

Table of Contents

Symptoms | Diagnosis |Treatment | Holistic


"Irritable Bowel Disease in Dogs (canine IBD) can be treated with a combination of prescription medication, changes in diet or holistic remedies."


Canine IBD is a condition in which the stomach and/or intestine becomes chronically inflamed. The cause is not known but it is thought that genetics, nutrition, infections and immune system abnormalities may all play a part.

Irritable Bowel Disease Dog Symptoms

Irritable bowel disease dog symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. There may be mucous and/or blood in the stool. Symptoms depend on where the inflammation lies - if the stomach is inflamed, vomiting usually results, while diarrhea results from an inflamed colon. Symptoms may come and go. If symptoms are severe, dogs may become depressed, stop eating, and lose weight.

Irritable Bowel Disease Dog Diagnosis

Based on your dog’s symptoms, your vet may suspect inflammatory or irritable bowel disease. The only way to diagnose IBD for certain is with a biopsy, a test that involves taking a sample of the intestinal wall and examining it under a microscope. Your vet may decide to do this test at some point, but first he or she will want to rule out other problems.

Your veterinarian will start by doing some blood tests. If your dog has IBD, blood tests will probably come back normal. If the inflammation of the intestines is severe, the neighboring liver and pancreas may also become inflamed, resulting in increased liver enzymes and amylase (produced by the pancreas). If vomiting has been severe, electrolytes may be out of balance.

Your vet may also do an x-ray. Your dog’s intestines may appear thicker than normal and there may appear to be more gas than normal in the digestive tract, but the vet can’t diagnose IBD from an x-ray.

Your vet will also want to examine a stool sample for intestinal parasites. When all of these tests come back normal, your vet may decide to do a biopsy, or may go ahead and diagnosis IBD without doing the biopsy.

Dog Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment

Anti-inflammatory medications are used to reduce the inflammation. Other medications called sulfasalazine, 5-ASA, and mesalamine compounds are also useful. Corticosteriods such as prednisone may also be prescribed. Anti-motility and anti-spasmodic medications are prescribed to stop diarrhea.

Inflammatory bowel disease symptoms can often be managed by diet. A low-fat, high fiber diet is helpful. Hills Science Diet makes a food for sensitive stomachs that is easily tolerated by many dogs with IBD, and Iams makes a lamb and rice formula that may help control symptoms.

For further reading see our information on canine bowel incontinence.

Holistic Treatment for Canine IDB

Dogs, like humans, can suffer from the negative effects on digestion of cooked and processed foods, food additives and pollution. All of these factors can affect digestion and lead to digestive problems.

Many holistic vets suspect that over-vaccination is a factor in chronic illness, including digestive complaints. Commercial dried and tinned pet food is easy to serve and claims to be 'better' than any other form of food.

The result is that dogs often get digestive complaints and disorders It can be difficult to see your dog suffer from the discomfort associated with chronic and acute digestive disorders, which are often very resistant to treatment.

Holistic practitioners recognize that the whole dog should be treated to maximize health and reduce imbalance in the system caused by a variety of environmental and dietary stresses.

A combination of natural medicine, healthy diet and regular exercise will help your pet to return to digestive health. Holistic herbal remedies such as PetAlive Digestive Support when used for chronic conditions, results are usually noted within 3 - 5 weeks of regular use, although conditions associated with pain often respond sooner.