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Some Helpful Tips for Living with a Dog with IBD

March 30, 2012 − by Leslie − in Rottweiler Health Resources − 35 Comments

Digestive upsets can have a number of different causes and their treatments should be considered accordingly. What works for one may not work for another. (i.e., simple stress induced colitis may be treated with a few days of feeding rice and ground beef whereas a dog with serious IBD shouldn’t be fed rice at all.)

Jessie-living with IBDMy experience with IBD has taught me that human medicine is much more specific than canine medicine (not a real newsflash, but, important nonetheless). In human medicine the doctors will try to specify the underlying causes of the digestive disturbance and treat it accordingly. In canine medicine it seems that the less serious cases are called colitis and treated, but, when they don’t get better or get more serious then it’s called Inflammatory Bowel Disease and you are given a bad prognosis and the treatments are not case-specific. To all of our veterinarian friends out there, please don’t take this as a slight as it is not intended to be one. During my experience with IBD our vets were wonderful and caring, but, even they admitted that the Veterinary profession is limited in it’s availability to the drugs used to treat this disease. If you are as lucky as I was to have wonderful vets they will go to whatever measures necessary to access the proper medications to deal with this disease, be it waiting for drugs to cross the border or calling the local pharmacies (as the pharmacies have better access to and lower costs than the veterinarian distributors). Let me say right now that medications should only be prescribed to you by your veterinarian and that is why I am only going to discuss the natural food alternatives and hints that I found helpful for IBD.

As you may have figured by this time, I had a very special dog who was diagnosed with an extremely serious case of IBD. I will try and outline all of the natural alternatives I found helpful and that worked for Jessie.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a disease which is believed to have many different causes. Although this cause is the center of much debate, it is believed to have genetic predispositions. Even in Human medicine doctors have been unable to come up with a definite genetic marker for it, but, the patterns are clear; if one member of a family is diagnosed with IBD, more often than not there are other members of that family who will suffer from similar symptoms. Other causes can be dietary factors, infectious agents, immune disorders and sometimes stress.

At about six months of age Jessie’s gas started, it was pretty horrible so I can sympathize anyone who has ever experienced this part of IBD. Jessie was put onto a special veterinary formulation kibble that was designed for IBD. This seemed to help, but, it didn’t last for very long. When we moved out to the country Jessie was exposed to a bacteria called Campylobacter, this seemed to be the onset of her serious problems with IBD. Don’t get me wrong, this didn’t cause her IBD, it just seemed to make it worse, but, the vets and I both agreed that we could never be sure if it was her sensitive bowels that made her susceptible to the campylobacter or if the campylobacter put too much strain on her sensitive bowels and aggravated them to the point of severe inflammation. Either way this seemed to be the onset of her serious problems with IBD.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be recognized by intermittent bouts of foul smelling diarrhea, low-grade fever and abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating and gas and general appearance of malaise. IBD can and should be diagnosed by a veterinarian so that you can get the guidance you need to make the right dietary and lifestyle changes for your dog. Inflammatory Bowel Disease is just what it sounds like, the bowels become irritated by some stimulus and they get so inflamed and swollen that the intestines cannot properly take in the nutrition from their diet and this is what causes the poor health of the dog. Sometimes the stimulus can be the food that the dog is eating, the body becomes so dysfunctional that it loses the ability to recognize the good from the bad and it just refuses to take in any nutrition at all.

As I mentioned earlier, we had put Jessie on a special kibble at an early age. This kibble seemed to help for awhile, but, eventually her body started to reject the kibble also. Jessie’s rejection of a food was apparent by the intensity of her flatulence, bloating, diarrhea and sometimes she would vomit her food up almost completely undigested after as many as 5-6 hours after eating. The food would sit in her belly and ferment because her body refused to digest it. Eventually, we tried the BARF diet and it seemed to be the one thing that Jessie could eat for long periods of time. It absolutely amazed me that a dog that couldn’t digest kibble or even soft dog food could efficiently digest an entire chicken back! (I would remove the skin from the chicken backs to make it lower in fat, but, I will discuss the issue of low fat food choices and IBD later on.)

The first thing I did when Jessie was diagnosed with IBD was breath a sigh of relief – phew, at least it’s not cancer! Then my vet said that this diagnosis was almost as serious as cancer based on the severity of Jessie’s case. Yes, almost as serious as cancer! I don’t know how many times I have heard breeders and pet owners say that Inflammatory Bowel Disease is not a serious disease, diarrhea can’t kill a dog! Well, I beg to differ. I am not writing this article to scare anyone, just to inform you that this is in fact a disease that needs to be recognized and treated for what it is, a serious disease. This is also not to say that IBD can’t be lived with because it can be, you just have to be aware of it’s existence and make the proper choices for your dog. The disease can also affect the dog in a range of severities, some dogs will never develop more than gas and mild bouts of diarrhea or as in Jessie’s case it can become quite serious. Either way as long as you are aware of it and make the proper decisions for your dog’s food and lifestyle choices you can keep your dog happy and comfortable.

I found myself a really good book on human bowel disease and I tried to apply as many of their suggestions as possible to help me construct a diet for Jessie. I found this book much more insightful than any of the canine books on this topic. This book was called Stomach Ailments and Digestive Disturbances, How you can benefit from Diet, Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, Exercise and other Natural Methods. The author was Michael T. Murray, ND. (I bought it in a health food store.) The Ian Billinghurst book on feeding the BARF diet is also a great book to help you start feeding your dog a natural raw diet. (just keep in mind the principles of the IBD guidelines.)

Jessie’s belly was upset very easily, but, some of her more fierce triggers were; fat, beef, pork, wheat and dairy. Now obviously no living organism can function without fat, but that was the recommendation for Jessie, as little fat as possible. Even in healthy bowels the introduction of fat slows down the digestive process, as it is hard to digest. In a compromised digestive system it hinders the digestion even more and sometimes it can even slow it down so much that the good food sits in the stomach or intestines and ferments (this causes gas and bloating sometimes resulting in vomiting the food back up almost completely undigested.) It is recommended to choose your fats wisely for a dog with digestive difficulties. Good suggestions are flaxseed (one of the best I think), safflower, sunflower and soy. Even better for IBD are the omega 3s which are found in coldwater fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and halibut). There is an oil on the market that is called Essential Balance and it combines many of these oils together. (I use if on Dylan now.) If you can keep the diet low in fat and then add your fat this way I think that is the best way to do it. Now with Jessie she couldn’t even tolerate these fats so I had to resort to an oil called MCT oil (Medium Chain Triglyceride). MCT oil is an oil that used to be quite popular with body builders and is used at Sick Kids Hospital for children with bowel problems, as it is an oil that is easily absorbed into the system without any of the bad effects of a fat. (It can be found in some health food stores and can also be ordered through pharmacies – it is not cheap though!)

Jessie couldn’t handle beef, but beef should be a fine choice for most IBD sufferers especially if you are choosing lean cuts. Pork is not recommended for IBD, as it is one of the hardest meats to digest. I used turkey with Jessie, as it is low in fat and extremely digestible. Chicken is also a good choice, but with Jess I found success with turkey and stuck to it. With IBD dogs it is even more important that you are making wise choices as to the freshness and quality of your meats. A healthy dog may be fine with meats that are a little older, but, IBD dogs should be fed meats and/or poultry that is very fresh and it should be washed thoroughly. As I mentioned earlier if I was feeding her chicken backs I would remove the skin as this was too rich for her to digest. I did use grains with Jessie, but I did so because she couldn’t handle anything too rich and this helped to keep her diet somewhat bland. For Jessie I used Quick Oats. We decided on the quick oats because they are crushed so finely that they are quite easily digested, I still used to pre-cook them the night before so that they would be even more soft and mushy when served.

Rice shouldn’t be fed to IBD sufferers unless it is ground up. Rice flour is okay if you are going to make homemade cookies, but oat flour is even better. The theory behind the rice is that, if served the conventional way, it has sharp pointy ends that can trigger a bout of inflamed bowels. (For normal dogs it does work quite well at clearing up acute diarrhea though.) I would think that if your dog can manage a without the use of grains you would probably find it much easier.

Now one thing that is important to remember with IBD dogs is that they often have a hard time getting all of the nutrition out of their food and therefore it is important to supplement them with a daily vitamin and mineral supplement that is balanced for canine nutritional needs. The less processed the vitamins and minerals the better, natural source vitamins are normally much more easy to digest. (the Missing Link makes a natural source canine vitamin supplement that is hypoallergenic as well as other ones.) One very important element to supplement is zinc, zinc is often not absorbed by IBD dogs at all and to make it accessible to them it should be supplemented in the form of zinc picolinate. Which can be tricky to get ahold of, but a good health food store should be able to get it for you.) You can also buy digestive enzymes from a good health food store and you can open the capsules and sprinkle them over your dogs food and this will help his/her challenged digestive system.

When you are giving your dog his/her veggies they should be either crushed very finely or juiced. I juiced Jessie’s veggies and they didn’t seem to give her any troubles at all. I added juiced carrots or sweet potatoes to her diet as well as cabbage (Cabbage juice is supposed to be a great soother of inflamed bowels!) and garlic (1 or 2 cloves). I also used to add some aloe vera juice to her veggies too as it was supposed to soothe irritated bowels and heal any damage that may have been done while the bowels were inflamed. Cabbage that is shredded or cooked can cause gas as anyone who has ever had cabbage rolls can attest to, but fresh cabbage juice is recommended to soothe both IBD and peptic ulcers. (Jessie loved fresh cabbage juice! And Dylan still loves to eat whole cabbage leaves once in awhile!) Garlic is also supposed to help replenish friendly bacteria in the bowels, but in excess it can also cause gas so use it sparingly. Cottage cheese is also very easily digested and it is a terrific source of protein for a dog who could use some extra energy.. It is recommended to use the pressed style cottage cheese as it is lower in sodium, but I used the creamed style because it came in very low fat versions. Yogourt is also a great treat for IBD dogs as it helps to replenish the friendly bacteria in the intestines (plain, unsweetened of course). When using dairy products, however make sure to check to see if they contain Carageenan! This is very important, as carageenan is a trigger for IBD in those who are predisposed to it. I know with Jessie that almost any type of artificial preservative would trigger her so I tried to stick to natural and fresh foods.

If you would rather stay away from dairy you can give a daily supplement of lactobacillus and acidophilus. This is the ingredient in yogourt that helps the bowels stay healthy and you can get it in non-dairy formulations in a health food store. This is one of the best supplements you can give your IBD dog. Another veggie that I juiced for Jessie was alfalfa sprouts, she liked to eat them whole too and they didn’t seem to hurt her at all. Alfalfa is reputed to be good for digestion and can help to promote weight gain. Alfalfa is available in tablets and powders too. I know that from my personal experience that if anything was given in tablet form, it came out in tablet form so I had to either crush them or if in capsule form I opened them and sprinkled the powder in her food. (Warning though if they were in capsules they usually tasted horrible and so they would be hidden in something she really liked and not in her regular food as she was easily turned off of her food). Some of the treats I might use to tempt her to eat her yucky supplements were natural source baby foods (no preservatives and no wheat for Jessie), her favourites were the sweet potatoe and meat flavours. Once in awhile I would give her lactose free ice cream too, but, that was only when we were really kissing up to her because the sugar is not recommended for serious IBD dogs either. Frozen yogourt sweetened with fruit is a nice treat too. Jessie also did not seem to have any trouble eating fresh fruit and she absolutely loved it! We often gave her *grapes, melon, kiwi and she would even eat clementines.
* please note that grapes are now determined to be toxic to dogs! 

Now I really hope that I haven’t confused you completely with my scattered train of thought or that even worse I have scared you at all. IBD is not a nice thing to live with, but, it CAN be lived with you just have to be aware of it and make sure that you are conscious of it every time you put something in your dogs mouth. One mistake that is very easy to make is to feed a balanced IBD friendly diet and then give conventional dog cookies. Make sure that you don’t give your dog cheap dog cookies; they are full of&ldots;well nothing but wheat flour usually. (Bad for sensitive bowels, even Dylan who has an efficient digestive system gets horrible gas when he eats these cookies.) Now you will notice how difficult it is to find wheat free dog cookies the first time you try to find some. (Almost impossible) I have found a few and they are Iams Lamb and Rice, Innova Health Bars (mine and Dylan’s favourite) and some flavours of the Northern Biscuits as well as the Medi-Cal cookies available from the vets office (which were the best for Jessie because they are completely hypoallergenic and low fat.)

Once again I would like to say that I hope that you have found some helpful information in this artice, but, that it is not recommended to replace a proper diagnosis and treatment plan from your veterinarian.

Jessie and friend - living with IBDI hope that you have been able to obtain some helpful tips from what I have outlined for you here. The diet and tips that I have explained are what helped me to enjoy three more years with Jessie that I would otherwise not have been able to experience. Jessie passed away on October 5, 2000 at the age of 5. She is dearly missed by Cassandra and Kevin Levy, her brother Dylan, and her cat Shelby as well as anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting her and her fierce “wiggle bum”.

Submitted By: Cassandra Levy

Pictured above is Jessie (Jowett’s Jessica) Photo courtesy of Mark Raycroft, Brountrout Calendars

Pictured below is Jessie and Shelby


  1. Esther Smith
    July 4, 2012 8:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing in such a warm and effective way the trials and tribulations of living with IBD. My 12 year old staffie cross rescue dog has just been diagnosed and I found your article helpful.

    • The text is very difficult to read – light gray lettering on dark gray background. More conrrrast, please!

      I can tell you without a doubt that vaccines are the main underlying cause of IBD, plus all the other autoimmune conditions, and a lot of cancer/leukemia cases.

      I’m trying to save a dog who was vaccinated and neutered while in an emaciated state. He’s been through papillomas, dermal heamgiosarcoma, and now full blown IBD. I hate what Rockefeller and all the other corrupt entities have done, misleading the public, owning the media, taking over the medical schools, and propagandizing for their petrochemical/pharmaceutical poisons.

  2. Thank you for this article. My dog Jack has had IBD since I got him at four months. He is a collie/springer spaniel cross. He is currently extremely ill as he had a bad reaction to the drug Imuran which has made him anemic. I am nursing him at home and in constant consultation with the vet, but I don’t know if he will make it. The BARF diet worked so well for him for about 3-4 years, and then his system just seemed to reject it. We are seein the vet again today and I just hope something can be done to help him….. He is six now.

  3. We are in the middle of this with our almost 7 year old female Shepherd, Rott, Golden mix. She has had bloodwork, ultrasound and fecal labs run, but no biopsy yet. On her second trial of vet prescribed food, Flagyl and she is refusing to eat again… Vet wants to do an invasive kind of biopsy but I am not really on board with opening her up…we are so frustrated and sad for our girl….trying some new meds for the vomiting today….and making a decision on a biopsy.

    • My boy has just been dignosed with Lymphocytic Gastritis helicobacter infection & is on antibiotics & Zantac every 12 hours for 3 weeks, Ive been doing research & Celiac disease & Helicobacter keeps coming up when I google “Lymphocytic Gastriris”, I read to go on a Gluten free diet & avoid foods high in LECTINS….. potatoes tomatos peas beans soy wheat all grains dairy eggs legumes lentils etc are all high in Lectins, so now Im looking at trying Royal Canine “Sensitivity Control” its Gluten & grainfree just has Tapioca & Duck the Royal Canine Sensitivity Control here in Austrailia Patch would have real bad diarrhea from potatoes peas barley rye boiled rice, I thought it was the strach now Im thinking he has allergies to foods high in LECTINS……Ive learnt so much since rescuing Patch 2 years ago & now I tried to tell people about LECTINS & how they can upset the GI tract in humans & dogs…… drs & vets dont know much about LECTINS… I didnt even know about LECTIN in food, I bet there’s alot of dogs out there that has IBD from their diet being wrong..

  4. Dear Author,

    I have a 5 month old lab who has been diagnosed with IBD. I was in search of info online and came across your article. I am sad to hear Jesse’s struggle with this disease and know that this has to have been a hard journey for you. With that being said, I was very upset with something I read in your article. It appears you have written this with the purpose of giving advice. So I was floored when I read that you use grapes as treats for Jesse. This can potentially be deadly for any dog. Grapes can cause renal failure in dogs. First time dog owners reading this may not know that, so I feel it is irresponsible to encourage this. Also dogs with IBD are often treated with steroids which alone can cause renal impairment, so adding grapes to their diet is beyond my comprehension. I hope for Jesse’s sake you
    discuss this with your vet

  5. I appreciate your sharing of your dog’s experience with IBD. I have recently acquired an apparently abandoned stray who I have been trying to help. Although I’m not a vet (nor played one on TV), I am sure that this is the correct diagnosis for Lily, a real sweet Shar-pei. My one concern is that people research feeding their dog(s) grapes or garlic, since both can be detrimental to a dog’s health.

  6. A very interesting article on IBD. My GSD was diagnosed after she had contracted Giardia in the rescue. After intensive amounts of AB’s the Vet wanted to take a biopsy but I have refused that as she at 10 months old had been through enough. Double vaxd in error and Giardia and Bacterial overgrowth and Spade whilst she was so ill. My poor girl. So safe with me she has been steady on Royal Canin Sensitivity Duck, but has had flare ups of BO and Colitis this year, a little too many AB’s to sort it out . I was thinking of changing her to working Duck from Natural Insticnt but am worried about biting the bullet really. She is now 3 and a half years old now and is magnificent. Still dont know what to do. But thank you for sharing your story.

  7. Fantastic article. My dog was dignosed last month with IBD through biopsy’s via endoscopy (I didn’t want her opened up as well – too risky). Veterinary care was provided by Massey University Veterinary Hospital in NZ and was superb. My dog is a 4 yr old Collie / Heading Dog and has been put on the Purina HA diet to settle her intestines / gut. We can start introducing a novel protein in two weeks time and I’m trying to get as much information as possible as to what will be good to feed her long term (albeit we will be developing a full dietary plan in the next few months, with Massey’s dog nutritionalist). Its been suggested at this stage to try venison, duck, goat, possum, rabbit, kangaroo, salmon, tuna, turkey, which are single proteins and things she’s never had before. However, the meat must absolutely be human grade edible and contain absolutely no additives or preservatives. Apparently beef, lamb and chicken are multi proteins and it is extremely difficult to diagnose what particular protein in these meats, are causing inflammation. The vet specificially said stay away from any raw meat that is labelled “Dog Food” as it contains additives and preservatives which should never been fed to any animal. I’m also checking out the Orijen dried food at the moment.

    • Correction to above, beef, lamb and chicken aren’t multi proteins rather they are proteins used excessively in dry processed foods hence the animal develops an intolerance.

  8. I have a 1 year old Labradoodle with severe IBD since 4 months, life for him is unbearable, he was eating a home cooked diet for 6 months with no problems until December 2012 when his stomach started to reject his food, he is on constant flare ups. It is soul destroying seeing my beautiful boy wither away, and I know with the state he is in at the moment that I have little hope since he has given up the will to eat. This is the second dog that I have owned that has suffered from this terrible disease. Thank you for posting such an invaluable article.

    • Hi Anna, that is so sad for you and your little boy. Is he being treated by a vet and have you tried feeding him (with mushed up food) via syringe in to the mouth? Millie gave up the will to eat as well and lost 2.5kg (which for an 18kg dog, was quite significant – she was just skin and bones). She was on a drip for 2 weeks and slowly came right and starting eating HA, then the novel proteins and has been doing relatively well since. Have you tried novel proteins (venison, duck, tuna etc)?

  9. Thank you for your article!

    I have a 5 year old Siberian Husky that, in Oct 2012, was diagnosed with an overgrowth of a bacteria. With all the antibiotics and numerous dietary changes, she has just recently been diagnosed with IBD. We have her on a BARF diet (chicken, veg) and our vet has her on prednisone. I really don’t like her on prednisone so I’m looking into more natural treatments. She has gone from 56lbs before she got sick, and just weighed in at 27.6 lbs last week. Her appetite has increased and hoping she’s on the right track, but anything would help at this point. She’s always been healthy up to this point. She’s being very picky with what she’ll eat, and has always been intolerant to wheats/grains. Anyone tried an IBD Dog Herbal Blend powder that you can get commercially? Apparently manufactured by PAWS. I am definitely going to give alfalfa sprouts a try (since its helpful for digestion AND weight gain!)
    Thanks again!! Very helpful!

  10. My 3 yr old rottie has IBD. just found out yesterday. His protein levels are extreamly low . This is all new for me. so it will be a learning curve to get him back to normal. My question here is . Predizone. Is it safe to take him off this when you see improvment? I Don’t want to cause any damage in my boy further. i rather take off meds and go holistic of some kind. Can you post a couple of meals that i can feed my boy so i can start them . I see your posts but how you are combining his food tother as a meal is also a question. And how much? my rottie is down to 95 pounds. but he is so tall that he looks skinny.

  11. HELP. My daughter has a 13 month old Malamute X NI bitch. She was spayed at 9 months old after 2 really heavy seasons, one lasting 5 weeks and the second 7 weeks which culminated in open pyo.

    Since then she has been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, apparently allergic to protein and the start of hip dysplacia. She was fed totally on the BARF diet including greens now they have recommended Royal Canin sensitive kibble duck and rice or James Wellbeloved hyposensitive – all of which she will eat for a few days then its a big no no. She has had vit B12 injections and that has boosted her no end, but we need her to eat. She was 39kg a few weeks ago and is now down to 35.5kg, she is not a happy bunny and the vet is talking about steroids which tbh we really, really want to avoid if possible.

    She is on lead walk only 15 mins 2 – 3 times a day and hydro for the hips to build up the muscle around the ball and socket, plus slight hill walks if poss.

    Any help would be much appreciated, or if it was just a pointer in the right direction. Thanks Gwen

    We were wondering about a holistic approach. Anyone tried it, got any helpful hints?

  12. Jacquie Hill
    May 3, 2013 12:39 am

    Looking at the recent posts, I’m wondering what type of IBD your dogs have been diagnosed with. My dog has Eosinophilic IBD identified via endosccopy – so is food allergic (similar to Crohn’s disease in humans). We have had fantastic success with Purina HA (hydrolysed soy protein); Orijen 6 fish, pasta, tuna, salmon, venison, pumpkin, beans (the pasta, pumpkin and beans being really well cooked), raw human grade venison, baby food (in jars and consisting of pumpkin, sweetcorn, potatoes, sweet potatoes). Her body rejected horse meat. I have yet to try duck, turkey or kangaroo (kangaroo apparently being very good (as advised by our vet). We are in New Zealand so my dog was treated at NZ”s leading university Veterinary Hospital and they were fantastic regarding nutrition however that hasn’t stopped me trawling the web for more detailed information. A leading dog nutritionist in NZ also put me on to Protexin – which is a multi-strain animal probiotic and again, we’ve had fantastic results. Animal designed probiotics and prebiotics seem to be an extremely favoured treatment option when I’ve searched through the web.
    Since my dog was diagnosed in November 2012, she has had one or two dippy tummies (due to the horse meat) – so I’ve increased the amount of Protexin for a couple of days and she’s always come right (so far!!!). She currently has 2gram of Protexin mixed in with her breakfast. During her treatment with the vet they did not put her on Predisnone or any other form of steroid as they have too many adverse reactions. Web searches have indicated that L Glutamine is also very good for eosinophilic IBD suffers as it reduces intestinal irritation however it can cause upset tummies so i only give it her to if I think she is feeling a little off and only in tiny amounts (ie: 1gram per day).
    One more thing, IBD suffers should have smaller frequent meals instead of one large meal per day so we split her meals in to two – breakfast and dinner.
    Hope this is of some help.

    • My dog has the same type of IBD as yours and I am also in nz. I am interested in the different types of foods your dog is able to eat. Mine has been having Hills ZD for the last couple of years and is sick to death of it – always trying to find something else, will even eat other animal poo if she can find it so I would love to introduce other foods but so far it hasn’t gone well. might investigate the nutritionist at massey. Would love to chat since we are in the same country, I live in queenstown and easily found in phone book if you ever read this reply.

  13. My 9 year old rottie has ibd, however the vet just wants to put him down – his advise last august. Anyhow I myself suffer ibd and had.some prednisilone left from my last active flare. I gave him a course of these and he improved immediately and put on lots of weight. However he has flared up again and the pred is not helping this time – it’s just making him sick. I am so fed up of him wrecking everything in the house with his diarrhoea, and I really do know what he is going through, but just don’t know what else to do. He only eats hypoallergenic burns dry food as he cannot tolerate anything else. Anyone got any ideas as he is wasting away in front of my eyes and its so sad to see as he is still an active alert dog and is not ready in himself to put down. Thanks in advance.

    • Oh that’s absolutely awful, am heartbroken for you. We have a rescue Siberian Husky which came to us from the pound about 2 months ago. He’s just had x-rays and a blood screening because of intermittent diahorrea and we’re worried he has IBD – apparently his whole digestive system is very inflamed. I was looking around this morning and came upon this website: The author found that a handful of quaker oats and a probiotic tablet every morning made a huge difference to his IBD suffering crossbred. Might be worth a try. Best wishes to you and your dog .x

  14. Heidi Hirsch
    May 14, 2013 7:00 pm

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share all this! Helps A LOT!!

  15. Karen DeStefano
    July 21, 2013 3:52 am

    Great article. Anyway, my dog is elderly (16) and has had IBD probably since she was little. I just didn’t recognize the signs and they were so minor at the time. Now, however, she has become so severe that she cannot tolerate any wet dog food at all. Dry food should never be an option for any animal, cat or dog. ( Here is a great article on that topic: ) However, she is able to tolerate Orijen dry so I keep her on that for the necessary canine nutrition and I let her eat it as she wants. But her basic diet now consists of baby rice cereal mixed with low sodium organic chicken broth. She loves it, it keeps her weight up, it is loaded with nutrition and she eats it consistently. Since she has been on the cereal she is like a new dog. The reason I mention this is for those dog owners who have a serious problem at the moment with a dog who won’t eat at all and is losing weight. When your dog gets to that critical stage the baby cereal works fabulous and it can bring your dog back from a serious bout of IBD. Good luck to all of you!! Its a tough road…

  16. My 2 year old ShihTzu/Bichon cross developed bloody diarrhea/vomiting/weight loss at about 1y of age. Lost 2lbs in a few weeks which in a 10 lbs dog is a lot! Had a few emergency admissions for IV rehydration. Was scoped and biopsied fairly early on because she was so sick (and bland diet of rice/chicken, raw diet didn’t help). She has eosinophilic IBD as well. Responds beautifully to steroids, but am unable to wean her off (every time we get to a certain dose, blood reappears in her stool). She’s on a MediCal RC sensitivity (novel protein diet) which she tolerates and likes. Because we can’t get her off steroids, the vet has just started her on cyclosporine with the hope of weaning off the steroids. I’m desperate for any other drug free suggestions, but am wary of doing too much at once because when she gets sick, she gets so so sick.

    • wondering how your dog is doing now? I am surprised no one has mentioned immune supressant drugs like azathioprine (which my dog is on) the treatment my dog received for esinophillic IBD is exactly the same as it is for humans. a course of steroids (prednisolone) followed by the immune supressant drug which they stay on for life if need be. It can be a dangerous drug for some dogs and the dog must have regular blood tests as it can affect bone marrow. However taken at minimum dosage it is effective and allows you to then experiment with diet. we were recommended purina HA or Hills ZD which both are hydrolysed so are meant to be non allergenic. On the drugs my dogs liver enzymes have returned to the normal range and everything in the blood tests are normal. We are experimenting with introducing novel proteins – she can still react but not so severely and is much much better than before medical intervention. the immune suppressant drugs are preferable to taking steroids which do have very nasty side effects. The pills have to be specially compounded for the weight of my dog and are very expensive.

  17. Our golden/shepherd mix has had IBD since she was a puppy; she is now 4 years old. We have kept it somewhat under control with small doses of prednisone (NOT immunosuppressant), and Purina HA and small amounts of cooked pulverized cabbage (and nothing else). The thing that we have done that has been most helpful, however, has been fecal transplant: – this is becoming a common treatment for humans, but dog parents have not yet caught on.

    Yes, that is right. After taking her to nearly a dozen generalists and specialists (it is easy to find canine gastroenterologists in Northern California, fortunately), we out of desperation filled a big syringe half with another dog’s poop (a dog friend who has a cast iron stomach), and half with water, and squirted it up her rectum. That was 4 1/2 months ago, and she has not had any lower bowel problems since. No mucus or blood in her stool; no splurty poop, and her appetite is much better and she has gained weight.

    Now we are working on her upper bowel issues. She still vomits bile intermittently with flecks of blood (alas pepcid makes things worse). We are looking at the theory that Dr Plechner expounds in “Pets at Risk” (that IBD dogs have naturally low cortisol levels and need supplementation in small amounts, as if it were a hormone supplement). We hope to raise her “good” cortisol levels via acupuncture, rather than via pills (it is documented to work in humans; google “acupuncture raise cortisol levels” for studies).

    We have also started to allow her to eat her own poop; maybe we should have allowed her to all along. Apparently it contains digestive enzymes and B12. We figure that dogs have been doing this for thousands of years and there may be a good reason; so far it has not upset her stomach at all and may have helped.

  18. I have a beautiful GSD that unfortunately in his latter years (he is 11 now) has developed IBD. As discussed by this post, he had a really severe bout of campylobactor earlier on in the year and since then I am unable to settle his tummy. He has been through all the tests at the vets except the biopsy which involves a general anethestic which I wont put him through. I am now trying to manage this myself through diet and supplements. I love Jack so much I will do anything to give him a wonderful life in his Autumn years. Thank you for all your tips and ideas. I will take some on board and hope that we make some progress. Good luck to all of you with your best friends xx

  19. I have a toy poodle that was diagnosed with IBD when he was 5 years old. His weight had dropped from 4.8kg to 2.4kg. He was vomiting after every meal and couldn’t keep anything down. My vet was excellent and biopsied the bowel in three different areas. This gave us a firm diagnosis to work from.
    He reacted to anything with meat proteins, so we had to find a way to avoid this but still keep him healthy. After 6 months, his weight was 5.2kg. He is on 50Mg of Metrogyl per day, and 1/4 cup of Hills Science Diet ZD Formula, a dry kibble especially made for dogs with bowel disorders or food allergies. The food is given morning and evening, and as treats, during the day, he can have a slice of apple, some plain yoghurt or a Greenie, which is a dog chew with no meat products.
    He is 12 years young now and is often mistaken for a puppy due to energy and playful nature. I have to keep an eye on his weight because he is now prone to get fat very quickly. He is steady at 4.8kg, which is perfect for his build and size. He loves eating now and rarely vomits. He does need to be fed regularly, or he gets a rumbly tummy and he doesn’t like that. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I should have him on a natural diet, blah blah blah. That might be fine for their dog, but for my boy, he’s doing great , and has been for many years now. He has bright eyes, lots of energy, all of his teeth, no skin problems and is very happy. What more could I ask for.
    I wish anyone out there, with a furry friend with an unhappy tummy, good luck in finding what works for you both. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the long run.

  20. Kateri O'Connor
    January 29, 2014 5:04 pm

    Thank you for this insight. I have an 8 year old Lab who is suffering. He won’t eat the ZD and we have switched to Purina HR, but he is dropping weight terrible. He is also straining when going to the bathroom, with just a little here and there coming out. Our Vet has him on Soloraizine (I think) and orange sulfur tablet hoping to remedy this but I don’t think it is working. I am worried about his weight. He’s my heart and I fear he is wasting away. I will try some of the suggested foods. He loves canned pumpkin, fresh fruit, and I give him green beans often. His appetite is huge, it just doesn’t stay with him. THis latest development of straining without success has me worried as well.

    • I’m glad I found this site as although sad its nice to know others are struggling with this condition. My little foxy got IBD as a result of giarda, (its very hard to pick up, doesn’t show with every sample) she probably had it a few years and it damaged the intestines so I urge anyone who has not tested for this to do so. when treated for giardia the diarrhea cleared up but black stools, vomited bile, pain, etc that came from the small intestine problem persisted. Treatment: initially prednisolone, and azathioprine (immuno suppressent) long term, change to hills zd diet tinned and kibble. after a few months she was very good, I introduced a bit of rabbit meat ,still good but when I decreased the drug and we went travelling (stress brings on flare ups just as it does in humans) she relapsed and shes been unstable ever since. I give her animal probiotics – better than having yogert as it has more strains and is specifically for animals. I would like to try l glutamine but not sure where to get it plus I have heard it is usually pork based which could be bad. My dog would probably be ok on the drug with the hills diet alone, but I am not happy with either. the immuno suppressants are cancer causing and the hills diet has msg and soy – so processed it can’t be healthy and she doesn’t like it. My wish is to introduce foods she may tolerate and decrease the amount of drug necessary to keep her ok. Trouble is I was told that what usually happens with novel proteins is that in time they become allergic to those foods too. My dog has the esinophillic kind which is one of the worst and a true food allergy. I have given her supplements gained through a holistic vet and think she may be ready for another round of those, it may have helped initially.
      I find if she does get mucous and diarrhea which happens when she is really bad, then kibble is best. Hope our experiences help someone else.

  21. We have a 5.5 yr old Bulldog that has been diagnosed with IBD. We are having success with a diet of salmon, chick peas, sweet potatoe, green beans and coconut oil as well as low dose Prednisone, Metrinazole and the cancer drug someone else mentioned. He had a very severe reaction to his dog food and we almost lost him due to his losing protein so quickly that his heart was starting to have issues as well as dehydration from the explosive diorreah he was suffering from.

    The novel protien diet was our Hail Mary pass, as the prescription diets were doing nothing for him and are soy based, which has some question about digestibilty and nutritional value in dogs. He gained 1 pound in the first 4 days and is slowly gaining his weight back. He has been on it for about 4 months now and has regained more than of what he lost, but now it is more about regaining back the muscle he lost with the initial heavy dosing of the Prednisone, it can cause muscle wasting in both humans and dogs,

    Our vet did the research and the Coconut oil seems to be helping greatly in our getting the weight back on him. Our target is 1800 calories a day, do the math! It is very difficult to get that kind of caloric intake when you have serious dietary boundaries.

    We get the salmon at Costco reasonably cheap and it is pretty easy to prepare his meals, we just blend it up with a hand blender stick and he loves it. Everything is canned so we have no issues about freshness and quality or availablity.

    The vet was stunned at how quickly he showed improvement and while she wanted us to go for the biposy route, full credit to her as she has been supporting our path and is very happy with the results.

    He may never be the dog he was, and will never be “cured” but he is a reasonably healthy dog again and has good quality of life, we cant ask for more at this point.

  22. Thus is the best piece I’ve read on IBD. I will be reading it again and trying out some of your tips. Bo was diagnosed last year, she’s 3, but she’s still not right, shes jus on 2 antibiotics a day and I have Buscopan to help soothe, but it’s not helping as much as I’d like it too. Im at my wits end and I feel you have given me hope, thank you so much. Alison x

    • Maralyn Kolln
      June 20, 2015 1:20 am

      Hi, My dog Maltese/silky aged 3 and half years has IBD confirmed after an colonoscopy. She is on half Metrogyl tablet a day was on 1 per day and is on ZD wet and dry food. She is holding her weight at the moment but gets flare ups nearly every week lately, she drives me insane as I dread the fear each day wondering whether she will eat her breakfast and tea. Otherwise she is good and loves her walks. How is your dog going as she is around the same age as my Kelly. All this only started in January this year after she ate something( either kanagaroo poop or fox poop)on our daily walks. Wondering whether Meterogyl will be enough to keep her well without side effects, going back to the Vets probably next week for a recheck.

  23. Both my purebred dog and I have severe IBD. Unfortunately, there are not many absolutes. Every person/animal is different. And honestly it’s not the food that’s the problem it’s the system. Some things bother some people/animals sometimes and not others. Your comment about no rice…my dog and I both handle rice well. The reason I don’t do rice for my dog is it is basically an empty calorie. I use quinoa instead as it offers a bioavailable protein along w/ other valuable nutrients. IMO, each case in each individual is just that…individual.

  24. BTW, my dog has been off all medications for the last 9 months after taking him completely off any commercial dog food. He gets only fresh, Whole Foods that are cooked. He had been on meds for 6 years.

  25. Liked your article. We have a BlueTick Hound that has had problems since 2months old and spent a year off and on antibiotics and vomiting prescription. The vet recommended going to Washington State Vet School in Pullman, Wa. After all the tests and biopsy thru endoscope, diagnosed with IBD. Has been on Royal Canin HP dry and canned, has adapted pretty well, with flair ups, put on Tylosin antibiotic for two weeks at each bout. I believe it is due to mainly Stress. Just turned 2. He is eating up to 6 cups a day and acts like he is still hungry, banging on his bowl, we are looking for something to offer him that is more fulfilling.

  26. Thank you for writing this and sharing your story. My 3 yr old American Field Labrador was diagnosed with a severe form of IBD a few months ago. She was perfectly healthy — a muscled-up 85 lbs — this time last year. This morning she was 39 lbs and barely recognizable. It’s been heartbreaking. Our first warning signs were the chronic yeast infections in her left ear; we treated those but they kept coming back. Her shedding was awful, too. And she was so farty she could clear a gymnasium. I began asking our vet about food allergies and sensitivities and was made to feel like a crazy dog dad for even suggesting the linkage. Initially, we thought the meds for the ear infection were causing her GI upset. We tested for everything. We saw specialists. We did endoscopes and biopsies and more bloodwork. I watched $25,000 evaporate from savings. Her diagnosis was a relief in that we finally knew what we were up against. We began new treatments. We switched her diet. We now know she was probably battling food sensitivities/allergies all along. We’re on a cancer drug now to help with the inflammation. I’m doing daily steroid injections and a weekly B-12 injection. She’s on antibiotics and anti nausea tablets. She won’t eat anything any more. No Royal Canin. No kangaroo, or tilapia or bison or vegetarian HA. We have tried EVERYTHING. She hasn’t eaten in weeks. And this morning, I did the last best thing I could: I made an appointment with our hospice veterinarian to come by the apartment this afternoon to end all of this suffering. If you’re reading this, I hope your situation is different and that your pup responds to treatments that mine never did. More than that, I hope your outcomes and prognoses are better.

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