Inflammatory bowel disease
(IBD) is the most common cause of gastrointestinal problems in dogs and
cats. IBD, often incorrectly referred to as irritable bowel disease
(which is extremely rare in pets but very common in people,) is often
misdiagnosed and leads to chronic problems including vomiting,
diarrhea, and/or weight loss. This article will discuss this very
common pet problem and offer suggestions on natural therapies.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Currently, the cause of canine IBD is unknown, but is believed to
have an autoimmune basis. Genetics, nutrition, infectious agents
and abnormalities of the immune system can all be underlying
factors. There are
various forms of IBD which
such things as Lymphocytic-Plasmacytic Enteritis (LPE),
Enteritis, Regional Granulomatous enteritis
which is a rare form of IBD, Suppurative or Neutrophilic,
Sibo, Enteritis, and Idiopathic Colitis, all of which are
the type of cell causing the inflammation
and the area of the intestine that is inflamed. The most common is
Lymphocytic-Plasmacytic, second most common is Eosinophilic, then regional granulomatous enteritis
which is a rare form of IBD. Symptoms vary with
the area of the intestines affected and can include chronic diarrhea,
bloody stools, abdominal pain, and weight loss. There currently
is no cure for IBD. However, strict diet changes and
drugs will help in the control and stabilization of the dog.
detection is of the utmost importance and can be very difficult because
the symptoms can mimic other diseases. A positive diagnosis
occurs after performing an endoscopy exam with biopsy.
Pain in the Rear!
The exact cause of IBD is not known. What is known is that it is an
immune disease in which the pet literally attacks its own digestive
White blood cells, antibodies, and various chemicals accumulate and
the stomach, small intestine, and/or large intestine. Since an
part of therapy centers on finding an appropriate diet, it is
that at least for some pets, some often unidentified dietary antigen
(foreign protein) causes an immune response in the gastrointestinal
Inflammatory bowel disease can occur in pets of any age, but tends to
affect pets in their middle to later years of life (8 years of age and
older.) Clinical signs vary, depending upon the location of the immune
response. Pets with disease of the stomach and upper intestinal tract
intestines) typically have vomiting, whereas those with immune lesions
in their lower intestinal tract (colon) usually have diarrhea. The
causes loose feces that may or may not contain mucus and variable
of bright red blood. Some pets with IBD manifest as chronic weight
It's important for owners to understand that pets can have any
of vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss, or may only have 1 or 2 signs.
Early diagnosis is important so that the proper treatment can be given
to the pet. Undiagnosed IBD is uncomfortable for the pet due to
cramping. Without proper diagnosis and treatment. IBD can actually turn
into gastrointestinal cancer (lymphoma,) especially in cats. Diseases
that can be confused with IBD include parasites (usually easily
diagnosed and treated) and “food allergy,” which is actually very rare
in pets. Despite what some veterinarians say, no pet should simply be
diagnosed with a “sensitive stomach.” I've seen
too many pets suffer and die with IBD when owners were told that their
breeds of pets had “sensitive stomachs” and were improperly treated.
Inflammatory bowel disease is easily diagnosed by endoscopic biopsy. In
this procedure, a sedative or light anesthetic is given to the pet. The
doctor introduces a tube called an endoscope into the pet's
gastrointestinal tract and removes tiny pieces of tissue for a
Once correctly diagnosed, IBD is routinely treated with high doses of
corticosteroids such as prednisone. After 2-4 weeks the amount of drug
is slowly reduced to a dose which prevents clinical signs from
For pets that do not respond to prednisone, other more potent
drugs such as Imuran may be needed. Doctors also often prescribe an
antibiotic such as metronidazole or tylosin. Both of these drugs can
help reduce inflammation but also treat secondary bacterial overgrowth
which is quite common in
pets with Inflammatory bowel disease.
Even in my integrative practice, I routinely use prednisone for my more
severe cases so that I can quickly reduce all of the inflammation that
is occurring in the pet's stomach or intestines. Once the pet has
stabilized and shown improvement, the pet is carefully weaned off of
and in most cases can do very well simply on an individual regimen of
Using a More Natural Approach
IBD is actually a disease which responds very nicely to natural
therapies in most cases. In my practice, most pets do not need to take
any medication and do well on the appropriate diet and supplements. For
those pets which require drugs such as prednisone, I have been able to
wean them to a very low dose (which will never cause side effects)
given 1-2 times weekly.
Finding the proper diet is an important part of therapy for the pet
with IBD. Initially, a diet with a novel protein which the pet has not
eaten before (such as rabbit or venison) is used. Once the disease is
stabilized, I prefer to wean the pet onto the best natural diet the
pet's system can tolerate. Your holistic veterinarian can work with you
to find the best diet
for your pet.
Supplements are the mainstay of therapy for the pet with Inflammatory
bowel disease. A number of supplements including herbs and homeopathics
can be prescribed. Because each pet is unique, it may take some trial
error to find the best combinations that allow your pet to be weaned
of conventional medications.
In my practice, at a minimum I prescribe supplements containing the
Because IBD results in improper digestion of food and absorption of
nutrients, we must help the pet's damaged GI tract do its job. Adding
enzymes to the diet is necessary in order for the stomach and
to properly process the pet's diet.
Probiotics are normal bacteria and yeast that reside in a healthy GI
tract. They are often not present in patients with IBD due to
intestinal cell damage and overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Replacing
the healthy bacteria and yeasts is critical in allowing the GI tract to
This is an amino acid which has a number of health benefits, one of
which is to serve as food or fuel for the damaged intestinal cells. By
feeding the intestinal cells we encourage healing and proper function.
Several helpful products to consider include Acetylator and Fast
Balance-GI, (all are made by VetriScience).
IBD is an important and common gastrointestinal problem in dogs and
cats. Proper and early diagnosis is very important in allowing the pet
to heal. It responds very well to natural therapies; in most cases,
use of drug therapy is not needed.
Copyright 2007, Paws & Claws Animal
Hospital, All Right Reserved
reprinted with kind permission from Shawn
award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats.
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each week on his award-winning show, Dr. Shawn-The Natural Vet, on
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by Darleen Rudnick, Pet Nutritionist
Bowel Disease (IBD) is one of the most common gastrointestinal
disorders in pets. It is a term that describes a chronic inflammation
disorder of the small and/or large intestine.
When suffering from IBD, the body's normal rhythmic contractions of the
digestive tract become irregular and uncoordinated. This interferes
with the normal movement of food and waste material, and leads to the
accumulation of mucus and toxins in the intestine. This accumulated
material sets up a partial obstruction of the digestive tract, trapping
gas and stool, which in turn causes bloating, distention, and
In general, the cause of most cases is unknown, but contributing
factors that have been identified are poor eating habits, stress, food
allergies, overuse of antibiotics, bacterial and viral infections and
blockage should not be ruled out as many times pets will chew and
toys, socks, and other objects.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Disease
Constipation. During episodes of constipation, stools may
be hard, small, pebble-like, and difficult to eliminate.
Diarrhea. The diarrhea is usually in small volumes, but
frequent. The morning bowel movement may be normal, but followed by
loose bowel movements throughout the day. In some cases, constipation
Abdominal pain. Pain can vary in severity from mild to
Mucus in the stool.
Nausea, sometimes vomiting.
Intolerances to certain foods
Because IBD is triggered by many factors, it is important to have a
thorough examine done by a veterinarian. If you decide to seek natural
Purely Pets recommends a consultation with our on-staff nutritionist.
A consultation will include a personalized diet and holistic program
suggestions, all custom-tailored to your pet's personal needs. This is
particularly imperative with pets suffering from IBD.
The nutritional program and other recommendations outlined in this
article are designed for pets that have been diagnosed with IBD, but
does not apply to every pet.
Treatment of Irritable Bowel Disease
Feed What is Right for Your Pet
The most important thing to remember when choosing a food for your IBD
pet is to choose a food that is right for YOUR pet, not what other
people think is right. Raw diets are great, and home cooking is
if your pet doesn't do well on it, don't feel guilty.
Some pets suffering from IBD do very well on a BARF (raw) diet, others
do well on a home cooked diet and others only do well on dry or canned
food. Every case is different, so it is a matter of experimenting and
sticking to what works best. There IS NOT one diet that works for every
However, when choosing a dry food avoid synthetic preservatives such
as butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT),
gallate, propylene glycol and ethoxyquin. Avoid animal fats (found in
pet foods), high fat treats, processed foods, spicy foods, sugar and
products. These foods may aggravate an IBD problem.
Eating the wrong combination of foods can trigger symptoms. For
example, when proteins and grains are eaten together, the grains start
to ferment and cause gas. Also, as the combination slows the process
start to putrefy and cause toxins to be released into the system.
you may need to eliminate grains.
In many cases, feeding a very simple diet helps. Diets that seem to be
beneficial are chicken and one vegetable, or ground meat and one
vegetable. Some pets only do well when brown or white rice is added to
the diet. In other cases a dry food containing beet pulp is beneficial
because it hardens the stool.
Structure Meal Times
Feed small, frequent meals instead of one large one. Offer all food at
room temperature for best digestion.
Recommended feeding schedule:
Breakfast: High quality pet food, raw or homemade food.
Lunch: High quality pet food, raw or homemade food.
Midday: Light Snack. Dinner: High quality pet food, raw or
Before bed: Light snack.
Use Bottled Water
Toxic metals such as lead, copper, mercury, and aluminum are often
found in drinking water and some pets are very sensitive to these
Rule out a Parasite Infestation
A parasite infestation is a very common problem with dogs and cats.
Symptoms of an infestation are -- vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite,
weight loss, diarrhea, inability to absorb nutrients, bad breath, skin
problems, chronic ear infections, yeast infections, foul odor to the
stool, and many other minor and major ailments.
GIARDIA does cause Irritable Bowel Disease!
Giardia is a gastrointestinal infection caused by a microscopic
parasite called Giardia lamblia. This is a common parasite causing
gastrointestinal illness. It is found in the stools of many animals,
dogs, cats, cattle, and wild animals.
A Giardia infection can be acquired when your pet ingests food or water
that has been contaminated with the parasite. It then multiplies in the
small intestine. The infection can also be spread person-to-person when
which are contaminated with an infected person's stool, are brought in
with the mouth. Swallowing as few as ten parasites can cause the
Symptoms of Giardia are diarrhea, foul, greasy stools, abdominal
cramps, bloating, increased gas, weakness, and weight loss. These
very similar to IBD symptoms so it is essential that your pet be tested
for this parasite. This test is normally not done by your veterinarian,
so you need to request it. This simple and inexpensive test can save
hundreds of dollars and invasive testing.
Giardia is usually diagnosed through a laboratory examination of a
stool sample. Your veterinarian will forward the stool sample to a
that will use a microscope to look for the parasite. Several stool
need to be examined to detect the parasite.
If your pet is diagnosed with Giardia, always thoroughly wash your
hands with soap and water before meals, before preparing food, after
bowel movement, after changing diapers, and after playing with your pet.
Eliminate Toxins in the House, Yard and on your Pet
Because IBD can be triggered by stress, it is important to put as
little stress on the body as possible by avoiding toxins that may
Avoid the following:
Plastic bowls - All plastics release some undetectable fumes,
especially when heated. This out-gassing means the fumes can pass into
the foods that are served or stored in the bowl or container. Stainless
steel or glass
bowls are recommended.
Cheap ceramic bowls - Cause the same problem as described above.
Fumes from all bathroom cleaners.
Fumes from bleach.
Fumes from dusting products.
Toxic flea products - If the product states "Hazardous To Humans And
Domestic Animals", it is hazardous to your pet.
Toxic flea collars.
Paint chips from lead based paint.
Rawhides - Many are dipped in a solution of salt and bleach
Cheap painted pet toys
Red food dye.
Purely Pets does not recommend discontinuing traditional medications
cold turkey or discontinuing them at all. This is YOUR decision based
how the following program works. We highly recommend you work closely
Although medications can be very effective, some may cause side effects
that can eventually lead to other symptoms. Many pet owners are now
looking into other methods of treating IBD. A more natural approach is
Giardia & Parasitic Cleanse
Provides an excellent compound containing bitter principles which
activate digestive secretions. Can be used safely to clean out the
colon, when parasites are suspected as a trigger.
Since IBD can be triggered by an inadequate amount of digestive
enzymes, adding them to your pet's diet cannot be stressed enough. A
lack of enzymes can lead to decreased energy, excessive gas, allergies,
poor skin condition, loose stool, consumption of their own stool, foul
breath and/or body odor. Without digestive enzymes even the most
nutritious foods will not be of
any use to the body.
Digest Zymez are capsulated enzymes which can be fed orally or opened
and mixed directly into the food. This product reduces intestinal gas
and cramping and is very helpful with Irritable Bowel Disease.
Yucca is a natural steroidal supplement containing steroid saponins
which are nature's most powerful anti-inflammatory agents. This product
reduces pain without gastric side effects and is effective for
and joint problems, soft tissue swelling and digestive and bowel
Mega Pet Daily
This is our most outstanding multiple nutritional supplement. Higher
potency, easy to feed gel cap provides daily support of important
and minerals, including the A's, B's, Selenium, Chromium, Zinc, and
all the vital nutrients for optimum immunity and health.
Exercise Your Pet Daily
Exercise increases the efficiency of the immune system and helps with
muscle development, digestion and overall health. A well-conditioned
body will work and perform better and increase the ability to carry
blood and oxygen to muscles. Exercising burns fat and increases your
Be sure your pet gets at least an hour of exercise everyday. However,
age, health and weather should be taken into consideration when
exercising. Do NOT over exercise older pets, or pets suffering from
hypoglycemia, epilepsy, heart problems, during bouts of diarrhea, etc.
Pets suffer from exhaustion just as humans do.
Conclusion and Tips for Treating Irritable Bowel Disease
Feed what is right for your pet.
During bouts of diarrhea, Pedialyte and baby food may help. Plain
yogurt replenishes the intestinal tract with friendly bacteria and does
help in some cases. Rice can be helpful for bouts of diarrhea, but this
is not true in all cases.
Large breeds that eat off the floor from a bowl are forced to
gulp down their food and this may cause bloating and slow down
digestion. Raising the food bowl for them eases the digestive process
and causes less discomfort.
Feed small, simple meals throughout the day.
Test for Giardia and other parasites at least 3-4 times.
Rule out a blockage.
Eliminate any food or supplement which seems to upset the
digestive tract or aggravate the symptoms.
Exercise your pet regularly as this helps with digestion.
Give supplements to strengthen the immune system and most
importantly give digest enzymes before or during each meal.
Avoid using toxins on or around your pet.
Offer only bottled water.
Last, it is important to keep a positive attitude, as your
problems and your stress level will affect your pet.
If you have any questions, please feel free to
contact Purely Pets!
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Pet Nutritionist: firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about your pet
or our products.
copyright © 1997~2007 Purely Pets. All rights reserved.
reprinted with kind permission from Darlene Rudnick
The above information is simply
informational. It's intent is not to replace the advice of a
veterinarian nor to assist you in making a diagnosis of your pet.
Please consult with your own veterinarian for confirmation of any
diagnosis. Your pets life may depend on it.