IBD IN DOGS-- What You Need To Know

IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease in dogs may not be as common as it is in cats but it is no less problematic. The severity of the problem is also wide ranging from something like irritable bowel syndrome in dogs to life-threatening IBD. The first step to dealing with IBD in dogs, whether it is mild IBD or severe IBD in dogs, is to learn more about it.

On this page, we’ll not only answer what is IBD in dogs and what causes IBD in dogs but also three different approaches to IBD treatment in dogs. 



  • Pet IBD, or Inflammatory bowel disease, is a very common problem in cats and some breeds of dogs, notably Shepherds and Arctic breeds like Huskies and Malamutes.  
  • In mild cases, you may see just occasional vomiting or soft stools, but as it worsens the vomiting and diarrhea can become permanent, leading to weight loss and sometimes death if not treated appropriately.  Just the vomiting and diarrhea alone is something we can all sympathize with.  And then there is the clean up…


    •  Pet IBD typically starts as allergies to one or more components of  your pet’s diet, just like Crohn’s disease in humans.  This allergy can occur whether the food is dry or canned, raw or processed.   And you should understand that IBD is NOT necessarily caused by low quality diets-- just like shrimp for humans, sometimes  even premium ingredients can create severe digestive disease.
    • These  chronic dietary allergies create swelling and irritation in your pet’s stomach and intestines.
    • The swelling in your pet’s intestines prevents normal nutrient absorption (creating weight loss) and normal water absorption (creating diarrhea).
    • If you catch the disease early enough, appropriate diets can often eliminate the intestinal irritation/swelling and the symptoms they cause..
    • As time goes on, the chronic irritation creates scarring within the stomach and intestinal walls, and the symptoms can become permanent.
    • The chronic irritation and swelling also increases chances of GI cancer (lymphoma or adenocarcinoma) longer term.



    Over the last decade, there has been tremendous interest in Crohn’s disease on the human side, since its frequency and severity appear to be increasing.   From this research we have learned of many holistic approaches to the preventing and treating IBD in dogs.

    1) CURCUMIN will help to both prevent and treat pet IBD.  And cancer.  And allergies.  And joint pain.  And Alzheimer's.  And the lists goes on... to over 4500 studies on PubMed. Yes, it just so happens we sell the best curcumin on the market.  Check TRANSCEND out here.

    2) CBD OIL to help reduce inflammation naturally.  We formulate our own prescription grade CBD Oil, which we call THRIVE.  It contains 1.6 mg of CBD Oil per drop, which makes it one of the most concentrated CBD products on the market..  It is Vegan, Gluten-free, and Organic.  

    3) PROBIOTICS  to help normalize GI flora.  Just make sure they are DOG or CAT probiotics, not human– yogurt is not going to help your pet as much as it will you..  ProViable and VisBiome are the two probiotic products that we recommend.

    4) FISH OIL, FISH OIL, FISH OIL  The more Omega 3 fatty acids we can get into an IBD patient, the better they do.  It’s that simple. We recommend (and use) Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil.

    4) AVOID STIMULATING YOUR DOG'S IMMUNE SYSTEM.  Be very cautious about the use of vaccines, and treat allergies aggressively.



    • For EARLY IBD, your goal is to try and find a diet to which your pet is not sensitive.  Here is the approach for you to use in figuring out the ideal dog IBD diet:
      • identify the meat and grain ingredients in your pet’s current foods, and find a commercial diet without those ingredients
      • because grains can cause IBD, a grain free diet is always a good first choice.
      • If “regular” diets don’t work, you have two choices:
        • home-cooked diets with limited ingredients
        • vegetarian/vegan diets
      • if you try the vegetarian/vegan diets and they don’t work, you have two choices:
        • home-cooked diets with limited ingredients
        • prescription rabbit-based diets from your veterinarian
      • if you try the rabbit prescription diets and they don’t work, you have two choices:
        • home-cooked diets with limited ingredients
        • hydrolyzed prescription diets such as Hills Z/D, Royal Canin Hypoallergenic, or Blue Rx Hypoallergenic diets
    • For CHRONIC IBD, the best diet for dogs with IBD is usually:
      • home-cooked diets with limited ingredients
      • hydrolyzed diets as mentioned above
      • adding psyllium, pumpkin, or other sources of dietary fiber may minimize diarrhea.
    • SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY!!   Feed as few ingredients as possible, and make as few changes as possible!!

    While talking about diets, we should meander into the rationale for such hypoallergenic diets as Z/D by Hill’s.  The principle behind these diets is that our immune system can only recognize something as an allergen (and thus trigger an immune response against it) if that molecule is of a certain size, or molecular weight.  So if a diet manufacturer can break down all the potential allergens into a size smaller than that “allergenic threshold”, in theory your pet’s immune system CANNOT react to it.    This is what Hill’s has done with Z/D, and virtually every other prescription diet manufacturer has a similar diet.  We also recommend the hydrolyzed diets of Royal Canin and Blue.



    • Because you now know that pet IBD is caused by a hyperactive immune system, the traditional medical treatment has always centered around immune suppressants.  In the general order these are usually tried, these include…
      • STEROIDS like prednisone– cheapest, the old standby
      • BUDESONIDE, another steroid but one with more specificity for GI problems and fewer side effects
      • ATOPICA– can be very effective, but also can create vomiting.  Not cheap.
    • Suppressing an immune system ALWAYS CREATES RISKS of other health issues, including cancer.  So use the smallest effective dose at the lowest frequency!!


    And the most important part of all?  Let us know how we can help you, and we will!!