Dog Health Advice: FAQs About Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Most animals may suffer from an occasional upset stomach or other gastrointestinal disorder.
However, how do you know whether it is just a little tummy upset or the signs of something more serious such as canine inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?
Here's some commonsense advice from a veterinarian with considerable experience in treating IBD successfully in her canine patients.
Dr. Alinovi's Answers to Our FAQs
Dr. Alinovi is a graduate of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.
She specializes in using a wide range of holistic and alternative methods to treat her patients including but not limited to methods such as chiropractic, aromatherapy or applied kinesiology.
Although many of her clients were unable to be cured by conventional methods, she was successful in treating them. For more tips and information on the best nutrition for your furry friends, check out her new book Dinner PAWsible.
FAQ: Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Donna Cosmato (DC): Please explain canine inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (in plain English) for my readers.
Dr. Cathy: Canine inflammatory disease is irregular or disturbed bowel function.
DC: What causes canine IBD?
Dr. Cathy: It is believed by some to be psychological, but any human who has had it might take offense at the implication.
DC: What are the key risk factors?
Dr. Cathy: The key risk factors are stress and changes like diet, boarding or intestinal parasites.
DC:Are there canine populations that are at higher risk?
Dr. Cathy: No, there are no well-proven breed, age or gender predispositions.
DC: What are the symptoms of canine inflammatory bowel disease?
Dr. Cathy: The major symptoms are a gooey, mucousy diarrhea, straining, cramping, and the urgency to “potty” – often there is alternating diarrhea and constipation.
DC: What is the diagnosis procedure if you suspect a dog may have IBD?
Dr. Cathy: There are several diagnosis options. First, it needs to be differentiated from inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), which is diagnosed based on intestinal biopsy but reveals no pathology.
In IBD, there is infiltration of inflammatory cells in the lining of the intestine, which affects nutrient absorption. In IBS, the biopsy is normal. Whipworm infection also needs to be ruled out through fecal exam.
DC: How is it treated?
Dr. Cathy: Conventional treatment says to decrease stress or use immune-suppressive drugs, like steroids. Some vets even prescribe doggy prozac and suggest owners add fiber to the pup’s diet.
Other less standard therapies include changing diet to all human-grade food and treating intestinal dysbiosis, which is a condition where the intestinal flora are out of balance. The imbalance can be due to yeast (candida), bacteria, parasites, viruses – anything that is out-of-balance.
The cause is inappropriate diet and environmental stress. I have had wonderful luck with diet change and treating intestinal dysbiosis.
DC: Are there any natural remedies for canine inflammatory bowel disease?
Dr. Cathy: In holistic medicine, there is a huge amount of time spent correcting “leaky gut.” Most commonly, this is done with herbs; however, I have had some dogs I have been able to treat only after neurotransmitter testing and appropriate medications. This suggests the entire nervous system is involved, not just a psychosomatic disorder.
DC: What else do owners need to know about caring for their dogs with IBD?
Dr. Cathy: Depending on how long their dog has had IBD, treatment can take awhile. The key is being patient and sticking with the prescribed treatment method.
In addition, because this is a syndrome, the veterinary community is still learning about the illness. As pet parents, dog owners are ultimately in charge of their dog’s health and treatment. If one method is not working, they need to find another one and be willing to step outside the box.
DC: Are there any treatment side effects owners should watch for?
Dr. Cathy: Side effects of doggy Prozac (amitriptyline) can include sedation, hyperexcitabilty and seizures.
Side effects of diet change and treatment of intestinal dysbiosis: temporary stomach upset, soft stools and flatulence.
DC: What is the prognosis for a dog with canine inflammatory bowel disease?
Dr. Cathy: Prognosis ranges from poor to excellent based on the underlying cause and how the patient responds to treatment.
DC: What have I forgotten to ask you that my readers might want to know?
Dr. Cathy: How about…how common is IBS? Surprisingly common! One in six humans have IBS and it may be that common in dogs, too. Like many illnesses, there is a spectrum – occasional GI upset to constant soft stools and mucous diarrhea. This is one disease I have fabulous luck in treating by changing the diet and correcting the intestinal dysbiosis.
Read more of Dr. Cathy's advice! Here are her answers to some commonly asked questions about canine arthritis and suggested treatment methods.
Learn More About Dinner PAWsible
If you’ve ever thought about switching your pet to a homemade food diet, but you just did not know how to get started, then Dinner PAWsible is the guidebook for you.
Authors Dr. Cathy Alinovi and Susan Thixton, aka the Caped Crusader for Safe Pet Food, will take you step by step through the learning cycle from buying the necessary ingredients to helpful tips on how to tempt even the most reluctant eater to chow down. The photography of the finished dishes is exceptional, and I found myself feeling a little jealous of the lucky pet that would be eating one of these delicious sounding meals.
While every scrap of information in the book is extremely valuable, I especially liked the tips on how to transition your pet from a commercial pet food to homemade food. We have a cat with food allergies and I shudder to think about how many cans of extremely expensive but uneaten cat food I have had to throw away. She’ll be transitioning to a chicken cat food diet as soon as I go to the store, and I am sure we won’t have any problems if we follow these tips.
Dr. Alinovi is the retired owner of Hoofstock Veterinary Services. Susan Thixton is a well-known pet food educator, lecturer and author.
This veterinary medical information is based on information provided during a telephone interview with a professional, qualified, retired veterinarian. However, it is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. Always seek your veterinarian’s advice about your pet’s health.
While this information is periodically researched and updated (under the guidance of veterinary input) in the attempt to be timely and factual, no guarantee is given the information is correct, complete, and/or up-to-date.
Recommendations as to therapeutics, diagnostics and best standards of practice in the veterinary industry and/or opinions between professionals may differ or change as technologies and information changes. You should not use this article as your sole source of information on any matter of veterinary health or attempt to self-diagnose or treat your pets as the information herein may not be appropriate for your pet. The safest option for you and your pet is to rely on the advice of your veterinarian to diagnose and recommend the best treatment options.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2011 Donna Cosmato