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What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD is a collective term. It is a general name for diseases that cause inflammation of one type or another, in the bowel. If this condition is allowed to continue over time, for long enough, it can cause many other very serious health problems for your dog.


IBD Is Also Known As


  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS
  • Irritable Bowel Disease
  • Leaky Gut aka Dysbiosis
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Enteritis
  • Gastritis

The type of bowel  inflammation your dog is experiencing is determined by what type of white blood cell penetrates the intestine. There are four main types of white blood cells:

  • lymphocytes
  • plasmacytes
  • eosinophils
  • neutrophils


What is Leaky Gut?

Inflammation will weaken the mucosal lining of the Gastro Intestinal Tract. This makes the intestinal wall weak and permeable. Then, undigested proteins, pathogens, toxins and allergens can get through it, and find their way into your dog's bloodstream. This inflammation also stands in the way of normal absorption and processing of vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients from the food which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Thus, the name Leaky Gut Syndrome. These foreign invaders are literally ' leaking ' into your dogs bloodstream because the inflammation is causing the strong and tightly fitting cell walls to become weak, and then separate.

What Causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs?

  • dog parasites
  • steroidal drugs and vaccines
  • poor quality processed dog food
  • overuse of antibiotics

Dog Parasites

This can be a common cause of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in dogs, but it is very often overlooked. Why would parasites be overlooked at the vet's office? Well, there are many different types of parasites, so if the specific type has not been identified, it may not be totally killed by the dewormers and anti-parasitic/anti-bacterial/anti-protozoan drugs,commonly used. Two extremely difficult parasites to detect and eliminate are Giardia and Coccidia.

Parasites irritate, inflame and damage the lining of the bowel. This can cause intermittent soft stools, diarrhea, blood in the stool, vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite and dehydration. It stands to reason that if these little critters are thriving, they are thriving at the expense of your beloved dog.

Antibiotics and Steroids

Antibiotics kill the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. When all the bacteria in your dog's gut has been killed, it can regrow in a way that is unbalanced. This often sets the stage for an overabundance of the yeast fungus, better known as Candida.

Steroids are extremely powerful drugs typically used to suppress the immune system, as part of the treatment for inflammation. This can be very dangerous. Your dog needs his immune system to work normally. Your dog's body produces its own steroids naturally. They are produced by the adrenal glands and are called mineralcorticoids and glucocorticoids.

Poor Quality Dog Food and Food Intolerance

In the wild, dogs would be eating a variety of food, all the time. That's the way Mother Nature intended it to be. Today rabbit, tomorrow duck, the next day deer, and so on. A virtual buffet of choices. So why do we feed the same old dog food, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year? It even sounds boring, but worse, it can cause a sensitivity to the food.

Hypersensitivity causes inflammation. Chronic low grade inflammation leads to Inflammatory Bowel Disease eventually. In fact, anything that is causing your dog to have soft loose stools or diarrhea, can cause other problems. For example, when a dogs anal glands become infected or impacted, this can almost always be traced back to improper feeding and a history of bowel disorders.

Even if you are feeding a really good raw diet this can happen if you don't change the protein source ( beef, chicken etc ). Poor quality dog food, containing unnecessary and low grade carbohydrates can set up a condition of sensitivity leading to food intolerance also. Your dog is a carnivore. His body is designed to digest meat, not grains and vegetables. It's easy to feed appropriately and avoid this problem. Feeding a more natural diet is the answer to eliminating gastrointestinal inflammation.

Testing for Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Your vet can do a biopsy on a piece of bowel tissue. However, why would you want to do this? It is surgery, and so must be done under anesthesia. This can be risky and expensive. Blood tests are easier and certainly a whole lot less expensive than the surgery option. Your vet can take a blood sample to determine how well your dog is absorbing two B vitamins:

    Folate is a B vitamin that must be broken down in the small intestine. If this is not happening properly, testing will show low levels of folate meaning that your dog is having a hard time absorbing nutrients due to inflammation. If folate levels are high, it  means that the bacteria needed for the absorption and utilization of some B vitamins is growing out of control creating a situation known as Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
    Cobalamin is another B vitamin. If levels are low it means that digestion is compromised and not working properly. If levels are high this can also affect the Pancreas creating a condition known as Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

So, bottom line is, Inflammatory Bowel Disease in dogs, is serious. If the Digestive System is not working optimally, good health is compromised. If you suspect that, or have found out that your dog is suffering from Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease, now is your opportunity to step up to the plate.  Do this in a gentler, more natural way that will help to restore health in the intestinal system.

Meet Olive, a cute as a button, Minature Pinscher ( Min Pin ) who was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Olive's non furry Mom Aleks, contacted me asking for help. I am happy to report that Olive is on the road to recovery. The secret is a good raw dog food ( easy to digest ) and a few targeted supplements that have the power to restore normal digestive function and repair the mucosal lining of the gut.

Here is an email I received from Aleks.

Hi Sandra!

Olive and I have been really great. Her poops are completely firm and normal, and very small. No tummy sounds, less scratching and her teeth are miraculously cleaner than they used to be when she ate kibble. She recently celebrated a birthday, so I threw her a little party. Since she couldn't have anything from a dog bakery, I made her a tiny raw turkey tartare with egg and shredded carrots. She also got a new sweater. How cute is she?!

Thanks so much for checking on her.

~Aleks


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