Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in Dogs

Overview of Canine Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an intestinal disease of humans that involves diarrhea and abdominal cramping of unknown cause. It is not a well-defined disease process in veterinary medicine for dogs and other pets, but is believed to be associated with some sort of functional disorder of intestinal motility or movement, rather than an infectious, inflammatory, or cancerous problem.

It is a chronic (long term) problem with intermittent clinical signs and is primarily a disorder of dogs. There are no breed or sex predilections. Some authors suggest that stress plays a role in the disease process, because IBS has been noted in high strung dogs and performance and working dogs.

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Dogs

Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Dogs

Home Care and Prevention

Give all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian. Careful adherence to dietary recommendations is crucial. Feed only the prescribed diet. Do not feed table scraps or other foods, including natural chew toys (rawhides).

Observe for inappropriate response to treatment or worsening of clinical signs at home. Persistent diarrhea, lack of appetite, abdominal discomfort, and lethargy should prompt a call to your veterinarian.

Because of the possible role that stress may play in this disease process, potential stressors in the home environment should be identified and minimized when possible.

In-depth information on Canine Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)IBS is thought to be caused by abnormal motility or movement of the intestinal tract. It generally causes chronic and intermittent signs, but the affected animals do not lose weight and otherwise appear healthy. Certain patterns of illness may appear following a stressful event in the animal’s life. The most common signs are bouts of diarrhea and abdominal cramping, bloating or discomfort. There is no specific test to diagnose IBS, so it is therefore a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that all other known causes of gastrointestinal disease that produce similar clinical signs must be ruled out prior to making an appropriate diagnosis of this disease process. Other diseases that may cause similar clinical signs include:

Diagnosis In-depth for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Dogs

Therapy In-depth for Dogs with IBS

Treatment principles for IBS involve manipulating the diet to create a highly digestible food source. Additionally, many animals respond favorably to addition of fiber to the diet. Fiber is thought to normalize gastrointestinal motility. Many animals will not respond to dietary therapy alone and may require anti-diarrheal, anti-spasmodic, anti-gas and even tranquilizing drugs during episodes of marked discomfort.

Home Care of Dogs with IBS

Optimal treatment for your dog involves a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not rapidly improve.