Monday, 07/18/2022

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a condition affecting dogs of all ages. The exact cause of this disease is unknown, but many factors are known to increase your dog’s risk of developing IBD. These factors include age, hereditary predisposition, gut bacteria changes, diet changes, stress, and environmental triggers.

Symptoms of the ailment may vary from dog to dog, but common signs typically include diarrhea, change in bowel habits (e.g., having loose stools or diarrhea), cramping abdominal pain, weight loss, and reduced appetites. Inflammatory bowel disease in dogs can be treated and managed, but it requires a detailed understanding of the disease process, prompt diagnosis, and a holistic plan to reduce stress and improve your dog’s overall health.

In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about canine IBD, including its signs, inflammatory bowel disease diet & medications, inflammatory bowel disease types, and potential complications. Read on to explore the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases in dogs.

What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs

IBD is a chronic inflammatory disorder primarily that affects the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of conditions that involve the intestinal tract, which can cause pain, loose stools, and blood in the dog’s feces.

The most common type of IBD in canine is chronic colitis. When the intestines become inflamed it leads to ulcers in the digestive tract that cause the dog to defecate little pieces of the bowel. Chronic colitis usually affects the dog’s large intestine, but small intestines can also be affected. Other types of inflammatory bowel disease include Antibiotic Responsive Diarrhea, Lymphoplasmacytic Enteritis, Eosinophilic Enteritis, and Lymphangiectasia, which are malignant.

Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease may have a fever or loss of appetite, but they are most likely to have bloody diarrhea or constipation. Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD is a chronic disease that affects the lining of the bowel (bowel mucosa) and can result in inflammation, ulcers, and swelling. IBD can affect your dog’s digestive system and cause chronic intestinal inflammation. Many different breeds are susceptible to developing IBD.

What Causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs

In most instances, inflammatory bowel disease causes are unknown but there is the possibility of a parasitic or bacterial infection, or it also may be caused by an adverse reaction to a specific protein in the diet. Dogs with a genetic history of IBD may be more likely to develop this disease. However, no specific genetic markers are associated with this disease. Therefore, the cause of IBD is unknown and likely a combination of environmental and hereditary factors. 

Diet and Nutrition

While the precise and accurate cause of IBD is unknown, research suggests that nutritional deficiencies may play a factor in developing this disease. In fact, many cases of IBD can be managed by improving the quality of your dog’s diet. The proper diet can provide many benefits, including improved digestion, reduced inflammation, increased nutrient absorption, and protection against disease. 

It is recommended to feed a high-quality diet that is made from real meat, fruits, vegetables, and other healthy ingredients. Meat is the best dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the health of your dog’s immune system and are especially beneficial for dogs with IBD. Healthy fats found in real meat, like CLA and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that aid in reducing chronic inflammation in dogs with IBD.

  • Immunity and Stress

Dogs with IBD are more likely to be anemic, which means they have a lower level of red blood cells in their bloodstream. Anemia can be caused by decreased iron stores, blood infection, stress, or diet. If your dog has a higher risk of anemia due to IBD or other health concerns, offering a diet with high levels of bioavailable iron is recommended. 

Stress is another factor that can affect the immune system in a dog. Stress impairs the body’s ability to fight disease, so reducing your dog’s stress level is key to treating IBD. Stressful situations can include changes in diet, routine, new people or places, or any other event your dog finds unusual or stressful.

  • Environment and Triggers

Some dogs are more likely to develop IBD than others. It may be due to your dog’s lifestyle, environment, and stress levels. Environmental factors such as dust, dirt, animal dander, and even odors can be a trigger for IBD in some dogs. Diet and nutrition, immunity, stress, and environment are all factors that can increase your dog’s risk of developing IBD. If your dog has a family member with IBD, be aware of the triggers that may cause it to develop the disease and consider changing them.

Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) usually have a chronic, relapsing condition that affects the large intestine (colon), small intestine (duodenum and terminal ileum), or both. Signs and symptoms of IBD in dogs include inflammation of the digestive tract, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, regurgitation, and anorexia.

Breeds susceptible in IBD include Yorkshire Terriers, Basenjis, Boxers, English Bulldogs, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers. In addition, the Norwegian Lundehunds pet breed is highly susceptible to the disease. 

The typical sign of IBD are as follows:

Persistent chronic vomiting
Inflammation in the bowel leads to chronic vomiting in canines. Vomiting may also seem without any cause, or you also witness a pattern when offering the pet its favorite treat or any particular type of food. 
DiarrheaWhen the bowel inflammation is in the small intestine, pets may suffer from loose stool, diarrhea, and mucus. If you observe blood in the stool and mucus, consult your vet as it is an emergency. This is the most common sign of inflammatory bowel disease in dogs. 
Along with being loose or watery, it may be bloody and foul-smelling and can contain small black nodules (pigment) or blood-curd-like formations. It can be acute or chronic.
Loss of AppetitePets may showcase lethargy and mild appetite loss in the initial stage. But if the pet’s bowel habits or appetite loss persist for a few days, you should address the condition with your veterinarian.
Indecipherable Weight LossIf your dog has unexplained weight loss, it may have IBD symptoms. Appetite loss also causes weight loss in the pet.
Abdominal PainAcute abdominal pain is a particular concern in inflammatory bowel disease because it may reflect complications such as colonic perforation, colitis, or diverticulitis. 
Dogs with chronic diarrhea often experience bloating due to fluid accumulation around the colon & they may experience constipation due to stool impaction. 

Signs of inflammatory bowel disease in dogs can be identifiable with a culmination of symptoms. The severity of the signs depends on the types of inflammatory cells present and whether the condition is in the colon, small intestine, or large intestine. Where the clinical sign of the ailment varies from weight loss and lethargy to vomiting and diarrhea, your pet me showcase the culmination of the symptoms and more.

  • The signs that are often seen when the dog has IBD involve the small intestine: Weight loss, Diarrhea or loose stools, reduced appetite, and chronic or recurring vomiting.
  • Chronic inflammatory bowel disease symptoms in chronic colitis or large intestine include enhanced urgency to defecate, occasional vomiting, straining to defecate, and weight loss.


We have illustrated the symptoms of IBD in dogs in a brisk visual presentation through the encrusted infographic to make the sign clearer and easier to understand. Let’s scroll through it:

How to Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

The aim of IBD treatment is to enrich the quality of your pet’s life with inflammatory bowel disease in dogs. It focused on minimizing the intestinal tract information, reducing clinical symptoms, and returning the intestinal bacteria to normal.

  1. Managing the Dog’s Diet

Altering the dog’s diet is the first approach to treating IBD dogs. In treating the ailment with diet management, the antigenic determinants on proteins are incriminated. The vet suggests the addition of selected protein diets containing a single, highly digestible, novel protein source, which is beneficial for the pet with IBD.

Furthermore, hypoallergenic diets are beneficial in managing food hypersensitivity. Adding fatty acids to the diet is for ailments due to the gelling & binding properties of fatty acids; it also deconjugated bile acids in soluble fibers.

Avoid excessive fat in the pet diet as high-fat foods may contribute to osmotic diarrhea. Intestinal bacteria hydroxylate malabsorbed fatty acids to stimulate colonic water secretion, exacerbating diarrhea, which is also the cause of gastrointestinal protein and fluid losses. In IBD treatment in dogs, avoid offering your pet food outside the vet’s prescription or offering treats or medication without consulting your vet.

  1. Prescribed Medications

The vet also suggests antibiotics to treat IBD In dogs. They also may prescribe probiotics and prebiotics to minimize the balance of the gut bacteria, minimize bacterial count, and balance the gut’s bacterial population. Along with the dietary management, the pet also requires adjuvant pharmacologic therapy The medical therapy of IBD is tailored according to each patient’s response. A vet may prescribe you Oral Corticosteroids due to their anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties. 

  1. Immunosuppressive Drugs

Based on the symptoms, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to reduce inflammation. In some instances, amalgamation is necessary. The vet suggests combining therapy with dietary therapy, azathioprine, and oral metronidazole to reduce the prednisone dose. Parenteral corticosteroid therapy is applied on vomiting patients or if your pet has a non-responsive disease. Budesonide is also dosed for toy-breed and large or giant breed dogs.

Azathioprine, Chlorambucil, Cyclosporine, and Sulfasalazine are also used in treating the following inflammatory bowel disease treatment guidelines. Notably, treating IBD in canines takes time, and sorting out the accurate combination for the pooch with IBD may take months. 

How Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosed

Pet IBD can be diagnosed with a series of diagnostic tests. The diagnostic testing includes Blood testing, Feces testing to observe the presence of parasites or a harmful bacterial agent), Ultrasound and x-rays of the abdomen, and Biopsy of the track. Laboratory work helps rule out other possible causes of the symptoms, like parasites, intestinal foreign bodies, kidney disease, metabolic diseases, and cancers. 

Blood testing also helps to diagnose the severity of the disease and also aids to determine the protein levels. Blood work brings the added benefit of identifying the other probable cause of symptoms such as pancreatitis, hormonal disease, and vitamin B deficiencies,

In the diagnosis process, the vets check the persistence of the IBD symptom in canines. Your veterinarian may recommend an intestinal tract and stomach biopsy if the pet is unresponsive to the diet or medication trials.

In the Stomach, the Biopsy vet checks for inflammation and obtains small tissue samples, the tissue samples used to analyze and confirm the presence of IBD. The diagnostic process also helps to determine the severity of the disease.

Comparison table

What breeds more Prone to the IBD?

DiseaseBreedAgeSexWeight (Kg)
IBDGolden Retriever 6 y 10 momn36.5 
IBDCavalier King Charles Spaniel 4 y 6 mom8.6 
IBDShar Pei4 yf12.4 
IBDMalinois 2 y 8 momn32.6 
IBD, PLEBernese Mountain Dog5 y fs35.5

Final Thought

IBD in dogs can be managed effectively, and a holistic approach can help reduce the impact of this disease. Feeding your dog food high in protein and fiber can help maintain a healthy gut. Feed your dog a diet with high levels of ALA and CLA to help protect their stomach from disease. 

Regular exercise has been shown to increase probiotic gut bacteria. The higher level of gut bacteria found in active dogs may help control disease. A healthy gut can help maintain your dog’s immune system, but an imbalanced gut can increase your dog’s risk of developing IBD. IBD is rarely cured, but it can be well-managed properly with dietary and medical intervention. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease In Dogs: FAQs

  1. What should you avoid doing for the canine with IBD? 

Avoid giving the dog a diet without consulting your vet. Make sure to monitor his condition regularly with your vet. Don’t give your dog any medicines without a veterinarian’s prescription. If you notice that the dog’s stool looks abnormal or appears bloody you must have the dog checked out by a veterinarian immediately.

  1. Is IBS in dogs the same as IBD? 

No, IBS in dogs is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which primarily affects the large intestine. But IBD affects both the large and small intestines. IBD is a chronic canine disease that requires lifelong therapy where IBS can occur in episodes.

  1. Is IBD in Dogs recoverable?

Unfortunately, IBD has no cure; also, the treatment must be tailored based on the dogs responding to it. IBD can be managed with medication or diet management, where vets are also prescribed as a series of drugs to diagnose the underlying disease that is causing the reaction.

  1. What is the best diet/food for dogs with IBD? 

The best diet for dogs with IBD is a novel protein-based diet. The food list may include chickens, dairy, and grains, but the best food for dogs with inflammatory bowel disease is selecting the food without food allergens specific to the pet that can stimulate the condition.

  1. How long does it take for inflamed intestines to heal in IBD?

It takes up to 8 weeks to heal the mucosa of the colon in up to 60% by eight weeks in active ulcerative colitis. IBD cannot be cured, but there is a period of remission when the disease is active. Medicines can reduce inflammation and elongate the number and length of the remission period. 

Disclaimer: The content on the site is for educational purposes only, and it does not provide medical advice. The shared information must not be treated as a substitute for or alternative for medical practitioner advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Regarding any concerns about your pet’s health, seeking veterinary guidance is of utmost necessity. Each pet has specific health, fitness & nutrition needs. Do not disregard, avoid or delay pet health-related advice from veterinarians based on reading the information provided on this site.



Alex Schechter

About Alex Schechter About Alex Schechter