Pets and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
It would seem that pets can suffer from some of the same
ailments as their owners. Since they can't talk you have to
read the signs they leave you.
A painful bowel movement for a dog might include snapping or
biting at their anus/poop. The vet says that is because it
feels to the dog as if something were biting him or her.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and
Other Gastrointestinal Issues
by Dr. Larry Siegler
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a condition resulting from an
inflammatory condition and an infiltration of the gut wall with
inflammatory cells. The lining of the Gastrointestinal (GI)
tract may become thickened, nutrient absorption is compromised,
and the passage of food and waste material through the
gastrointestinal tract is affected.
The symptoms include:
- chronic diarrhea or loose stools (when the large
intestine or colon are involved)
- difficult or painful bowel movements
- distended or tender abdomen
- possibly blood or mucous in the stool (often termed
- vomiting (when the stomach or upper small intestine are
- loss of appetite and lower energy level
While there can be other, more acute and short term causes
of these symptoms, when they become more frequent and chronic
then the diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) needs to
For the occasional bout of diarrhea, adding some canned
pumpkin and probiotics to the food and feeding a bland diet for
several meals may be all that is required. For occasional
vomiting, a short fast, bland diet and some slippery elm bark
(readily available at health food stores) can do the trick.
The causes of IBD are not always clear
but may include poor diet, food allergies and sensitivities,
parasitic infections, or adverse drug reactions. Some
veterinarians suspect the overuse of antibiotics and steroids
can lead to Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Leaky Gut Syndrome
(excessive permeability of the gastrointestinal lining).
Over-vaccination is also suspected in contributing to chronic
Diagnosis begins with blood and urine
tests to rule out more serious conditions such as liver or
kidney disease, and a fecal exam to rule out parasites, giardia
and bacterial infections. More advanced diagnostic tools such
as x-rays or ultrasound may be suggested to rule out growths or
tumors. If a definitive diagnosis is desired, then a biopsy
(obtaining tissue samples) of the intestinal lining is
Conventional treatment will often
include prescription diets that are frequently bland and not
very palatable. Conventional care may also include the use of
pharmaceuticals to inhibit the immune response (most commonly
steroids) and suppress symptoms.
Alternative treatment always begins with diet. At a minimum
a dog or cat with IBD needs a very high quality canned food
with no fillers or artificial preservatives. If you feed some
kibble try a hypo-allergenic one (Wellness, Natural Balance,
Solid Gold and Wysong make foods with alternative protein and
carbohydrate sources that work well).
Better yet would be the addition of raw or home prepared
foods (properly balanced by following a recipe). Please see our
What You Need to Know About Your Pet's Food for
a more detailed discussion of a healthy diet. Dogs and cats
with gastrointestinal difficulties often respond VERY well to a
raw food diet, and once transitioned need no other supplements
to stay healthy and symptom free. You can learn more about raw
food in our article
When the large intestine and colon are involved, then
added fiber in the diet can be helpful. When the stomach and
small intestine are involved, a lower fiber diet may be best.
Eliminating grains, especially for cats, can also be helpful.
For dogs grains such as rice, quinoa, millet or other lower
gluten or gluten-free grains may be tolerated.
In addition to raw food or a very high quality canned food and
hypoallergenic kibble, a good digestive enzyme and probiotic
supplement is important to aid digestion and help repopulate
the GI tract with healthy bacteria (see Animal Essentials Plant
Enzymes & Probiotics).
For immediate control of diarrhea
Fast Balance by Vetri-Science is very useful.
It is a paste that can be dosed directly into the cat or dog's
mouth and generally works quickly.
For additional support in healing the GI tract a supplement
containing beneficial nutrients, amino acids, enzymes, and
herbs is often necessary, such as
Only Natural Pet GI Support.
A Chinese Herbal remedy such as
Gastrigen by Thorne Research can also be
beneficial in alleviating symptoms such as vomiting and
diarrhea and soothing the digestive tract. A holistically
trained veterinarian can prescribe further Chinese Herbal
remedies that have been shown to be very effective.
For more severe cases extra
probiotics (in addition to the amounts in the
Only Natural Pet GI Support formula) may be needed in the
beginning of treatment.
Seacure by Proper Nutrition can also be very
helpful in healing the GI tract and is especially useful in
animals that have lost weight or at risk of poor nutrition as a
result of IBD or other gastrointestinal issues.
Always make any diet change very slowly to allow your
animal's system to adjust, and start with half the recommended
dose of each supplement and build up over the course of 3-5
days. It is wise to stagger the introduction of each supplement
by 2-3 days, introducing only one at a time and adding
Acupuncture can be helpful for many gastrointestinal
conditions including IBD. For a list of practitioners in your
area see the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
referral directory: http://www.ahvma.org/referral/index.html
article courtesy Only Natural