allergies in dogs

what you need to know.

IBD in Dogs — The Basics



  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, in dogs is very common.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE :).
  • Here’s how it works:
    • your dog becomes allergic to a diet ingredient
    • this allergy creates swelling and irritation in the stomach or intestinal wall
    • If the stomach wall is irritated, you see vomiting.
    • The swollen intestinal walls can’t absorb water normally, so you see diarrhea.
  • You know the symptoms:  The worst farts ever, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • If untreated, IBD in dogs can progress to weight loss, cancer, and death.


    IBD in dogs-- the basics

    it’s not the diet’s fault.

    IBD in Dogs– What Is Your Dog Allergic To?


    IBD in dogs starts as a simple dietary allergy.  This allergy is usually directed at the MEAT or GRAIN components of the diet.

    But if your dog spends time outside or roams, they could be allergic to anything they eat out there.  Most dogs with IBD should thus be confined, to narrow down the dietary suspects.

    If you are lucky, a simple change of dietary ingredients may solve this for you.  Remember that any dietary change will take a minimum of 6 weeks to be fully effective, so you won’t see overnight change.

    The biggest concern with standard dog food is “cross-contamination” of different ingredients, so that foods labeled as fish may also have turkey or beef in them.  There is, unfortunately, no way to know about this… until it’s too late.

    HERE ARE YOUR DIETARY CHOICES.   Generally speaking, the farther down this list you go the better your odds of success.

    • Check out the current ingredients in your dog’s food, and find an OTC diet with differing grains and meats.
    • Retail Vegetarian or Vegan diets, such as V-Dog.
    • Retail Rabbit diets (available online)
    • Veterinary single ingredient diets:  Rabbit, Kangaroo, Alligator
    • Veterinary prescription hydrolyzed diets:  Hills Z/D, etc.
    • Homecooked meals

    What’s Up, Doc??

    IBD in Dogs Can Fake You Out.

    Lots of things can cause dog farts, vomiting, or diarrhea.

    If your dog shows you vomiting, diarrhea, and gas for just 1-2 days, it is much more likely to be something they ate than true IBD.  Don’t panic.

    • Keep them inside so you know what they are eating
    • If your dog has been vomiting…
      • take away their food for 12 hours
      • give them SMALL drinks of water every hour
      • give them Pepsid AC at a dose of 1 mg per 2 lb body weight, 2x a day
    • If your dog has diarrhea…
      • make sure they eat only what you know about
      • a 50% cooked rice/50% cottage cheese diet will help most cases of dietary diarrhea.

    If your dog keeps vomiting or having diarrhea…

    • Take them to the vet.  Vomiting and diarrhea suck for us all.
    • Your vet should do blood tests, X-rays, and check for parasites. 
    • If your dog is vomiting, ask your vet about Cerenia — a very potent anti-nausea drug.
    • Dehydration can kill your dog, so your vet may give them fluids
    • If your dog has blood in their poop, they need to be on antibiotics.
    • If your dog has worms, every dog in the family probably has them.  Treat them all.


    IBD in dogs-- the possibilities
    IBD in dogs-- the diagnosis

    Tests That Make Sense.

    IBD in Dogs – The Diagnosis

    Logical tests for the dog with potential IBD include…

    The first line —

    • A dietary change for 6-8 weeks… if your pet is stable.
    • Fecal exam for parasites.  This is what we WANT to find, because it can be solved so easily… but all family pets must be treated.
    • Blood tests to check organ function.
    • Radiographs to look for a foreign body swallowed by your dog.Blood

    Advanced tests–

    • Pancreatic function tests — because pancreatic problems can cause the exact same symptoms
    • Malabsorption blood tests to measure the B-vitamins in your dog’s blood.  Why?  Because B-vitamins are only absorbed through the upper small intestine, so if the tests are abnormal it tells us where and how much inflammation is present.
    • Endoscopic exam +/- biopsy.  Nice to evaluate the stomach and upper small intestine, but biopsy samples are frequently too small to get answers.
    • Exploratory surgery and biopsy.  This is the most accurate means of diagnosis, but it has the obvious drawbacks of cost and post-operative care.


    How to help EVERY dog with IBD.

    IBD in Dogs — Holistic Care

    All dogs with IBD will benefit from holistic care:

    • Dietary simplification — give them only one food– no treats, no scraps, no outside roaming.
    • Appropriate dietary therapy.
    • CURCUMIN — proven effective in over 100 clinical studies
    • PROBIOTICS — VISBIOME is the best for sick pets
    • FISH OIL to supply 50 mg of omega3 fatty acids per lb body weight.
    • Oral Colostrum
    • For vomiting pets, Pepsid AC or Omeprazole at a dose of 1 mg per 2 lb body weight once daily.
    • Avoid oral flea and heartworm medications if possible.
    • Avoid vaccines if possible.
    IBD in dogs -- holistic care

    Partnering with Your Veterinarian

    IBD in Dogs– Drug Therapy

    The ACUTE treatment of a vomiting dog should include…

    • CERENIA as the most potent “anti-nausea” drug we have.
    • FLUID  THERAPY to prevent dehydration and electolyte imbalances
    • ANTIBIOTICS if you are seeing blood in the vomitus
    • ANTI-ULCER MEDS like ranitidine or famotidine.
    • HOSPITALIZATION for persistent vomiting.

    The CHRONIC treatment of IBD dogs should include…

    • The above drugs as needed for flareups
    • METRONIDAZOLE as a combination intestinal antibiotic and anti-inflammatory.
    • ANTI-ULCER MEDS, above
    • IMMUNE SUPPRESSANTS  to reduce inflammation and specifically inhibit allergies
      • PREDNISONE is the old standby, lots of side effects
      • CYCLOSPORINE is more potent, but more expensive.
    IBD in dogs-- the progression

    behind the scenes

    IBD in Dogs — The Progression

    If you are unable to find a diet to which your pet is not sensitive, the inflammation in their GI tract will worsen.

    • Stomach/upper intestinal inflammation will cause vomiting
    • Lower intestinal inflammation will cause diarrhea
    • On a microscopic basis, the intestinal wall will show bleeding, inflammation, and swelling.
    • Chronic irritation will lead to scar tissue in the walls of the stomach or intestine.  Now you are dealing with a permanent problem.
    • The scar tissue will prevent normal absorption of nutrients, so your dog will lose weight.
    • The chronic inflammation will predispose affected dogs to intestinal cancer like lymphoma or adenocarcinoma.




      Want Some Help with Your Pet’s IBD?   Let’s Get Started. 

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    NATURAL PEt.health

    Kevin Toman, DVM