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Dog Health Advice: FAQs About Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Donna partners with Dr. Cathy Alinovi, a retired veterinarian, to create informative pet health articles.

Is your dog suffering from IBD? Find out what a vet recommends.

Is your dog suffering from IBD? Find out what a vet recommends.

Canine IBD

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 you'll find some common-sense advice from a veterinarian with considerable experience in successfully treating IBD in her canine patients.

About Dr. Cathy Alinovi

Dr. Cathy 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 a while. 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 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.

Precautions Regarding Your Dog's Care

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

Share Your Thoughts About Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Pet Health Issues

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on June 11, 2012:

Thanks for commenting, Lwelch, and I'm glad you liked this. I'll check with Dr. Cathy to see if we can do a similar tutorial for kitties.

Lena Welch from USA on June 10, 2012:

Great hub! I would love to see one like this for kitties.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 14, 2011:

Thank you for the vote up and the encouragement, Deborah! It's always nice to get reader feedback to let you know if you are on the right track or if you need to make some corrections to an article.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on December 13, 2011:

this is a great HUB... great information.. I voted up...

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 13, 2011:

Thank you for voting up this hub about canine IBD, Cresentmoon2007. I appreciate your vote and your support:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on December 13, 2011:

Hi Millionaire Tips, and thanks for the compliment! I use a free service to find these experts and I've got several more articles upcoming on dog health issues. We just lost a dog recently to an incurable disease and it got me started on this line of research. Thank you for the vote up and your continuing support of my work.

Cresentmoon2007 from Caledonia, MI on December 13, 2011:

Great information, thank you for sharing. Voted up.

Shasta Matova from USA on December 13, 2011:

Another great hub - I just love how you are interviewing the experts to get us the answers! I hope my dog never has this (or any other) problem. Voted up.