Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Get in the Know

Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Get in the Know

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 08.12.2020

Like us humans, our four-legged fur babies can suffer from gastrointestinal tract issues from time to time. However, being able to recognize and act on your paw friend’s condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), is key in getting them the care and treatment they need, in time to make a quick recovery!

In today’s article, we’ll talk about all there is to know about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs, the potential signs and causes, as well as possible treatment options available. Fortunately enough, there are not only all-natural options to help alleviate IBD in dogs, but also natural ways to help prevent it from developing. 

1, 2, 3, let’s go!

What is Inflammation?

Many individuals may not realize just how impactful inflammation can be on your overall health and well-being. Most conditions, diseases, and ailments have one major factor in common: inflammation. Inflammation starts and may even be responsible for health conditions and diseases, ranging from minor allergies to heart disease to cancer. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) typically begins with intestinal inflammation. The cell lining of the intestines typically inflames when an injury or infection occurs. 



This inflammation quickly weakens the intestinal lining, causing it to become susceptible and increasingly permeable. A permeable intestinal wall can allow toxins to leak into the bloodstream, leading to a laundry list of potential issues. 

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Inflammatory bowel disease is not necessarily a disease, but rather an umbrella of gastrointestinal diseases. These diseases result in inflamed gastrointestinal tract cells, especially in the intestines and stomach lining. When such severe inflammation occurs, the cells create an alteration in the lining of the GI tract. This inhibits proper food digestion and absorption. IBD may even cause a whole additional slew of uncomfortable side effects that you pup will want relieved ASAP. 

What are the Intestinal Diseases in Dogs?

There are numerous diseases originated in the intestines found in both humans and dogs alike. The most commonly seen GI diseases are inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People often use the terms interchangeably. But, it is important to note that IBD and IBS are not the same conditions, although they might seem very similar. 

IBD is commonly diagnosed in dogs and humans. IBS, on the contrary, is commonly diagnosed in people, not necessarily doggos. The largest differences between IBD and IBS is that IBD involves inflammation (hence in the name) and IBS does not. 


1. Gastritis in Dogs 

Gastritis is one of two types of IBD. It is caused by chronic inflammation of the stomach lining. The most common symptoms of canine gastritis includes:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Acute vomiting

Remember, the central factor in IBD is inflammation.

2. Colitis in Dogs

Colitis in doggos is another type of IBD. This condition develops from continued inflammation in the large intestine, aka the colon. If your dog is straining to poop, pooping more frequently, or having loose or semi-loose stool, they may be showing symptoms of IBD.

What are the Causes of IBD in Dogs?

The cause of canine IBD is yet to be determined, even though there is extensive research and evidence on the topic. However, many scientists and experts do believe that IBD results from the body’s immune response to protect the immune system from potentially harmful invaders.



In addition, there is concern that these factors may aid in IBD development in dogs:

  • Chronic stress
  • Food allergies
  • Immune system abnormalities
  • Parasitic infections
  • Genetics

Researchers have even linked different food sources with IBD, such as:

  • Wheat (gluten)
  • Artificial coloring
  • Additives
  • Milk proteins
  • Preservatives
  • Meat proteins

What Dog Breeds are at  Higher Risk for IBD?

Certain doggos are at a higher risk of developing IBD simply because of their breed. These breeds may include:

  • French bulldog
  • Basenjis
  • Lundehunds
  • Irish setters
  • Boxers

Veterinarians frequently diagnose IBD in more middle-aged dogs and older dogs compared to younger dogs. Do note though, IBD can develop in any breed of dogs, at any age. 



What are the Symptoms of IBD?

The best way you as a paw parent can help fido feel better fast is to ensure that your dog receives a proper diagnosis and treatment plan from a licensed vet. 

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of IBD is crucial for your dog’s road to treatment. 

Symptoms of dog IBD can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Poor-quality coat
  • Bright red blood in stool
  • Gas
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Audible, gurgling abdominal sounds
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms are also commonly found in other GI diseases and GI issues in dogs. Again, colitis will likely cause abdominal sensitivities and diarrhea. 

How Do You Diagnose Canine IBD?

There are numerous ways your vet can diagnose your pup with IBD. They will have to perform several tests, including a blood count panel and fecal examination. If your pup has intestinal parasites or a bacterial infection, your vet may require or recommend more tests to be done.

An Endoscopic Biopsy

An endoscopic biopsy may need to be completed on your dog before the final diagnosis is made. This biopsy involves using a small tube, with a camera and forceps attached, to take samples of the GI tissue. The attached camera allows the vet to see where the inflammation is not only located, but provides them with a more analyzed look at the inflamed tissue. 

How Do You Treat IBD in Dogs?

Unfortunately, IBD is not yet curable in dogs. It can be managed though! Conventional treatment for canines with IBD typically begin with an antiparasitic drug, such as Fenbendazole, to help kill intestinal parasites. Other medications that vets commonly use are the following:

  • Antidiarrheal medications
  • Antispasmodic drugs
  • Antibiotics
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressive agents

A Word of Caution for Conventional Medications

We always want our readers to know and have a full understanding of what is at risk for when it comes to giving your dog medication. For IBD treatment, many conventional medications come with a major risk of potential side effects. Ek! 

It’s important that dog parents know and understand the associated adverse effects prior to canine administration The side effects may even be worse than the disease they're working to treat. 

Are There Natural Treatments for Canine IBD?

Yes! There are all-natural treatment options for dogs suffering with IBD. Some treatments may needed to be given long-term to help prevent IBD from ever returning. 

1. Turmeric for Dogs

One of our favorite natural, anti-inflammatory options is no other than turmeric for dogs. You may be very familiar with the orange/yellow-colored spice in your spice cabinet. But, you might not have yet realized that it is packed with a ton of health benefits (for you and fido). 



Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has been around for centuries as a medical treatment option. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin also has anti-inflammatory properties along with antioxidant, antiviral, antifungal, and anticancer properties. 

Interested to know more about turmeric? Check out this related article - Turmeric for Dogs 

2. Probiotics for Dogs

Your vet may also recommend starting your pup on a probiotic supplement to help them maintain a healthy bacteria in their gut. Diseases, like IBD, can be alleviated and prevented with a natural option, such as probiotics. 



By adding a probiotic supplement to your dog’s diet, this may allow for improvements in digestion and may even help their body absorb the necessary nutrients.

Related article - Probiotics for Dogs: Digestive Health

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Dogs

Omega-3 fatty acids can benefit your pooch with IBD. This is commonly found in fish oils, providing anti-inflammatory effects of the fatty acids.

We highly recommend talking to your vet about omega-3s. 

4. A Well-Balanced Diet

Many experts would agree that the best way to treat and prevent IBD is through a healthy diet. IBD has been questioned about being developed through sensitivities in the diet.

If your vet diagnoses your dog with IBD, they may next recommend a hypoallergenic food. 

Vets may also recommend feeding your dog smaller meals, multiple times throughout the day. This may help ease some of the GI inflammation. 



How Can You Prevent Canine IBD?

Better safe than sorry, right? When it comes to IBD in our four-legged friends, prevention can be super difficult sometimes - the underlying conditions may be nearly impossible to pinpoint. Dog owners can do certain things to help reduce the chances of the condition worsening though!

Once the source of the inflammation is pinpointed and resolved, talk with your vet to ensure it does not make a sudden return.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Dogs: Final Thoughts

When all is said and done, we know that you only want what’s best for your four-legged friend. Here, at Petly CBD, we totally understand and know what it’s like to see your puppers suffer. One of the most important and productive things you can do as a paw parent with a pup experiencing IBD is to be aware and sensitive to their upset stomach. 

Once a vet has given your pup a proper diagnosis of IBD, you can take on the necessary step to get your doggo back on their happy, little feet!



Although IBD is not typically life-threatening, it needs to be managed appropriately. IBD may inhibit their body from being able to fully absorb the nutrients from their food, which may lead to other health issues if the disease worsens. 

There is not yet a cure or “fix” for dogs with IBD, but making the appropriate diet adjustments, implementing supplements into their diet, and looking at alternative, natural options can help you ensure that your dog does not have a diminished quality of life, living with IBD.

If you think your pup may be suffering from IBD or any gastrointestinal issues, call your vet and get your pup the assistance they need. 

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