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ASG Specialties:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Patella Luxation
  • Medial Patella Luxation
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Fragmented Coronoid Process
  • OCD Osteochondritis Dissecans Fractures
  • Arthritis
  • Ruptured Cruciate Ligament
  • Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament
  • Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Canine and Feline

Affected Animals:
Most dogs and cats


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of common diseases in dogs and cats, which are characterized by inflammatory cells that infiltrate the stomach and intestinal walls.

Clinical Signs:
Common clinical signs of IBD include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and/or weight loss. Diagnostic tests are recommended to look for IBD include blood work, abdominal ultrasound, and endoscopy for biopsies of the gastrointestinal tract.

Vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss

There are several categories of IBD defined by the cell type present and the location. IBD is most commonly characterized by an infiltration of lymphocytes and plasma cells, but eosinophils may also be present.  IBD can be found in the stomach, small intestine, and/or colon. A subcategory of IBD includes lymphangiectasia in which protein-rich lymph fluid is leaking into the intestines through dilated lacteals.

Prognosis associated with IBD is generally good with appropriate treatment.  IBD which is accompanied by hypoalbuminemia (low albumin) and/or lymphangiectasia may be harder to control and associated with a worse prognosis.

Transmission or Cause:
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is thought to occur secondary to an over-reaction of the immune system to certain proteins found within the gastrointestinal tract. These proteins can be dietary in origin (beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, wheat gluten, etc.), bacterial in origin, or they can be the body’s own proteins (autoimmune disease).

Treatment of IBD is aimed at suppression of the immune system, and decreasing the body’s inflammatory response. Steroids such as prednisone are the mainstay of therapy. Other medications can be added depending on the response to the initial treatment.

A diet change is usually recommended since these gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions can be secondary to food allergies. Common proteins to which animals can be allergic include wheat gluten, beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb. Therefore, a novel protein diet is recommended, which is comprised of a protein source to which the patient has never been exposed, and therefore could never have developed an allergy. These protein sources include rabbit, venison, duck, kangaroo, soy, and others.

Other dietary options include hydrolyzed diets where the proteins are broken down into such small particles; they are unrecognizable to the immune system.  Once a new diet is recommended, no other food should be given, although you may supplement with certain vegetables such as baby carrots or string beans. Many dogs can be weaned off medications entirely and just maintained on dietary therapy.

Unfortunately, there are no known preventative measures to avoid the development of IBD.

Animal Specialty Group

VMD, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Dr. Emilie Chaplow received her Veterinary Medical Doctor degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001, and became board certified in 2005. She is skilled in endoscopy, abdominal ultrasound, bone marrow aspirates, feeding tube placement (PEG and E-tube), CSF taps, joint taps, arterial blood gas, and numerous other areas of internal medicine.

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