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What are the symptoms of IBD in dogs?

Many dogs get digestive issues throughout their life that usually clear up within a few days to a week. Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a condition where inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract occurs. These inflamed cells cause changes along a dog’s intestines and stomach which can make absorption of food and nutrients difficult. While IBD has very similar symptoms to other gastrointestinal issues like IBS, there are important differences. IBD causes physical abnormalities within the intestines and stomach lining of a dog meaning the prognosis is usually long-term management. Some dogs may only need dietary management to get them feeling well again if their IBD is caused by a reaction to a specific protein while others will need to be managed with medication. See what dry dog foods for IBD we recommend.

Chronic vomiting

Vomiting is a common symptom of many illnesses and stomach troubles but IBD presents itself as chronic, intermittent vomiting. The vomiting is caused by gastrointestinal inflammation and a limited ability to absorb nutrients from the food. When they are left unable to properly digest their food, they will bring it back up and effectively reject it. The resulting vomit will be poorly digested and often still include intact chewed-up pieces of food.

Similarly, they may show symptoms that will indicate the need to vomit. Just like humans, when dogs feel the need to vomit they will salivate and you may notice a lot of lip-licking. Due to IBD making it difficult to digest food properly they can bloat up, burp, or pass gas frequently as their body tries to cope with the undigested material in their gastrointestinal tract.

Lack of appetite

An obvious side effect of a dog not being able to properly digest its food is going to be a reduced appetite. Some dogs may stop eating altogether as they become increasingly uncomfortable and bring most of their food back up through vomiting. Their lack of appetite can be treated through feeding a highly palatable food but the restrictions on what they’re able to eat can make it difficult. Feeding small portions of something tasty can help improve their appetite but if they’re not eating well, an owner is likely to notice reduced energy levels. Many dogs with IBD will become lethargic if not receiving the right nutrients over an extended period.

Persistent diarrhea

While intermittent vomiting is one of the main symptoms of IBD, diarrhea is also common as the intestines are not usually entirely blocked so some food can pass through. While the body struggles to properly digest and get all the nutrients it needs, the fecal matter will be improperly formed.

Loss of condition and weight loss

IBD is a tricky and time-consuming disease to manage in dogs so it’s not likely to have a quick fix. Symptoms can be present for weeks continuously or intermittently which can take a toll on any dog. Any prolonged period of improper nutrition will lead to a loss of condition. First, you may notice their coat becoming a little dull and skin getting scurfy but as time goes by you’re likely to notice some amount of weight loss.

Many treatment plans will include medication to help promote appetite in dogs with IBD along with some extra nutritional support for them in the form of extra vitamins. If any of the symptoms of IBD persist beyond a few days or seem to recur intermittently, it’s important to get your dog seen by a vet for medical intervention.