Five frequently asked questions about IBS or irritable bowel syndrome in dogs

Five frequently asked questions about IBS or irritable bowel syndrome in dogs

Health & Safety

IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is something most of us have heard of as a human condition, but it can also develop in dogs as well. IBS in dogs is more of a collective of symptoms rather than something caused by one underlying trigger or condition, which can make it harder to understand and to manage.

This article will answer five frequently asked questions about IBS in dogs to help dog owner to understand the condition a little more clearly. Read on to learn more.

What is IBS in dogs?

IBS stands for “irritable bowel syndrome” and essentially, it refers to an inflammation of the lining of the dog’s bowels.

Your dog feels this inflammation, and the effects it causes is why we refer to the condition as “irritable,” as it causes the lining of the bowel to become sensitive, sore, uncomfortable and even potentially painful.

How acute the inflammation is and how severe it becomes dictates to a large part the symptoms it produces and how much of an impact it has on the dog, but it can have a wide range of effects, from making them quite miserable to producing marked signs of pain, to giving them problems digesting their meals.

IBS in dogs is a condition that tends to come and go, and we usually refer to it in terms of IBS flare-ups. This means that dogs aren’t likely to simply develop IBS as a one-off thing and then be cured of it or recover from it for good, and it tends to recur now and then in dogs for the duration of their lives.

On the plus side, IBS in dogs, while complex and potentially painful and distressing for those affected, isn’t a secondary complication of another illness or something that tends to cause or lead to other, more serious health problems.

Is IBS in dogs stress-related?

In many people’s minds, stress (or anxiety) and IBS are inextricably linked; and a common question about IBS and dogs pertains to the same thing, ie, is IBS in dogs stress-related.

The answer to this is less than clear-cut. Because IBS can be a hard condition to pin down and to get a definitive diagnosis on, it was for many years poorly understood in people, and was in many cases considered to be psychosomatic, or not even really having any physical manifestation at all.

IBS is not “all in the mind” and should not be written off as such, and so it would not be fully accurate to refer to IBS in dogs as something that is caused solely by or relating directly to stress, anxiety or similar issues.

However, stress in dogs, particularly long-term or frequent, can directly result in flare-ups and exacerbation of IBS in dogs prone to or predisposed to it.

This is not the case for every dog with IBS, but in dogs that do have IBS, stress can be a trigger.

Is IBS in dogs caused by allergies?

This is once more a question with something of a yes and no answer! IBS is the term used for a collective of symptoms and effects, being the inflammation and irritation of the lining of the bowel and the impacts that this goes on to have.

What causes this inflammation to occur in the first place is something that can vary wildly from dog to dog, and there are a huge number of different potential causes.

Food allergies in dogs, and food sensitivities can potentially irritate and inflame the lining of your dog’s bowel, resulting in the collective of symptoms we refer to as IBS.

This means that IBS can potentially be caused by allergies in some dogs, but that this is not the underlying cause for all of them.

Do dogs with IBS need a special diet?

Once more… This depends! If your dog’s IBS is caused by a food allergy (or if your dog has been diagnosed with a food allergy as well as IBS) then they need to be fed a diet that does not include the allergenic trigger. A food allergy can cause an IBS flare up, but it is not the only potential cause.

Once the food that serves as the cause of the allergy has been removed from your dog’s diet, the effects that it has will fade, and for most dogs with food allergies, this means being fed a special diet. This might be a prescription veterinary diet, or simply a specialist commercial diet produced without the ingredient in question being present.

Can IBS in dogs be cured?

IBS tends to come and go in flare-ups, and the impacts of these flare ups (and how long they last) can potentially be mediated and shortened or curtailed with the right care or treatment.

However, IBS tends to be something that affected dogs will have recurrences of for much if not most of their lives, although how long bouts last and how bad they are can vary.

There is no cure for IBS in dogs per se, but if you can get a handle on the triggers or find a cause when it comes to your own dog, you can reduce its impact and frequency, in cooperation with your vet.



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