Inflammatory Bowel Diseases can affect not just your family members, but also your family pet.

Happy Beagle PuppyMississippi State University is reporting that, “TaTonka Gold”, their living dog mascot had to be euthanized due to a number of health problems, one of which was Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This reminded me of an article I saw a few weeks back: “Treating inflammatory bowel disease in dogs” from the Washington Post’s website. That article involved a pet owner writing in about their dog’s digestive problems, the answer they received back was too look into the possibility that their dog has IBD.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in a pet mainly manifests itself as chronic vomiting, chronic diarrhea or both along with gas and/or a bloated appearance. An endoscopy with biopsies is usually required to confirm the diagnosis. The endoscopy may also reveal lesions or ulcers along the pet’s lower digestive system similar to Ulcerative Colitis. While gender, sex & age don’t often play a part in the diagnosis, the mean age for IBD in dogs is 6.3 years while in cats it’s 6.7 years. There is a chance that German Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, and purebred cats have a higher incident rate, but any dog or cat breed can develop IBD at any age. Often the cause of the IBD is unknown & may be related to autoimmune disorders.

Initial treatment is often a change in the pet’s dietary habits. The pet is often given food with a new & more pure protein source. This may involve the pet owner making the food for the pet out of something other than chicken or beef, e.g. lamb or venison. If the pet has a known food allergy to the available alternative protein sources, changing protein source may not help, but finding a purer form of the meat they are used to eating may help.

One thing I am going to rant about here is the horrible quality of most brand name pet food. For a long time I was using Pet Promise which was a product that had no byproducts & sourced it’s meats from local farms. Unfortunately Pet Promise closed it’s doors in January 2010. It’s a real shame because they produced a quality pet food that was only a few dollars more than the stuff full of chicken feathers & corn flour. The best alternative available now is Blue Buffalo which is considerably more expensive & may not be available locally. But you can find it on Amazon, Blue Buffalo for CatsBlue Buffalo for Dogs.

If dietary changes do not help, the same medications available for humans with IBD are available for pets as well. These drugs are mainly corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory & antibiotic drugs. Caution should be taken when dealing with corticosteroid drugs as they work by suppressing the immune system. There are also probiotics available for pets, which could provide a benefit similar to that seen in humans.

Like with humans, there is no cure for pet IBD, but diet management, use of drugs when appropriate & lots of loves, usually allows the pet to continue to live a good quality life.