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IBD in dogs, a common disease

IBD in dogs, a common disease

The term IBD stands for Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease. IBD is a relatively common condition that can affect the dog's digestive system as a whole or in part. 

So, what are the signs that your dog has IBD? What treatments are available? We will answer all the questions you may have!

What is IBD?

Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (CIBD) is a pathology of the digestive tract resulting from chronic inflammation. IBD occurs when the lining of one or more organs of the digestive system (stomach, small intestine or colon) is colonised by inflammatory cells. These cells are usually mast cells or lymphocytes, i.e. white blood cells. Their presence in the digestive system is abnormal and will result in the malfunctioning of the dog's digestive system. 

IBD can be triggered by a food intolerance (or allergy) or by the presence of parasites. The disease can also be caused in some cases by an overactive immune system in the digestive system. This excessive activity leads to inflammation of the mucous membrane.

There are three types of IBD, also known as enteropathy:

-IBD that responds to dietary change;

-IBD that responds to antibiotics;

-IBD that responds to immunosuppressive drugs.

IBD can occur in dogs at any age: puppy, adult or senior. It should be noted that certain breeds of dog are genetically predisposed to IBD, such as the German Shepherd Dog.

IBD is a disease that cannot be cured. Treatment is aimed at reducing inflammation to control symptoms. In the vast majority of cases, with the right diet and treatment, hairy people with IBD can have a good quality of life. However, in the most severe cases, and without treatment, IBD can be fatal.


What are the symptoms of IBD? How is it diagnosed?

Because IBD affects the digestive system, the following symptoms may be observed in dogs with this condition

  • chronic vomiting;
  • chronic diarrhoea, i.e. present for at least 3 weeks and often resistant to treatment
  • fluctuations in appetite;
  • presence of mucus or blood in the stool, which may be red (undigested) or black (digested).

Not all of these digestive disorders are necessarily present at the same time. Chronic diarrhoea is the most common symptom of IBD. 

These symptoms are common to many digestive diseases, and they differ depending on the area of inflammation.

There may also be symptoms that are less characteristic of digestive disease, such as : 

  • a decrease in activity;
  • a dry and rough coat;
  • weight loss.

In the case of Chronic Inflammatory Disease, the symptoms are observed over a long period. 

If your dog shows the symptoms we have just mentioned, you should consult your vet. Several pathologies present the same symptoms, therefore, to confirm the diagnosis, the veterinarian proceeds by elimination by doing different tests. Most of the time, he uses a blood and stool analysis to detect the possible presence of internal parasites such as giardas for example. An abdominal ultrasound, a biopsy or an endoscopy may also be necessary to confirm or deny the diagnosis of IBD.


What are the possible treatments?

When the diagnosis is made, the first step is to change your diet. You will need to switch to a hypoallergenic diet (preferably industrial). If your dog has IBD that responds to a change of diet, this may be sufficient. Some dogs can tolerate a return to a normal diet after a few months on this diet, but this is not always the case.

The hypoallergenic diet must be fed for a minimum of 3 to 4 months to show its effectiveness. 

If the change of diet is not sufficient to reduce the symptoms, long-term antibiotic therapy will be required. 

Finally, the most difficult to treat enteropathies generally respond to immunosuppressants. In this case, your dog will need regular veterinary supervision, as the long-term side effects of these treatments are not negligible.

This drug treatment is combined with a strict hypoallergenic diet.

To help your dog suffering from chronic inflammatory bowel disease, courses of prebiotics and probiotics are recommended. These are bacteria that have a beneficial effect on your dog's digestive (and immune) system. They are also particularly useful after antibiotic treatment, which usually results in an imbalance of the gut microbiota.

Vitamin B12 is also important for dogs with chronic bowel disease. One third of these dogs have a simultaneous vitamin B12 deficiency. Supplementation is therefore necessary and helps to improve the dog's condition.

Now you know all about this digestive system disease. Remember that you should consult your vet if your dog has chronic diarrhea or vomiting. In addition to the treatment prescribed by the vet, a course of prebiotics and probiotics, and a vitamin B12 supplement are recommended.

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