Canine IBD, Diet and Wild Earth
Category_Dog Blog
The Vet's Corner

Canine IBD, Diet and Wild Earth

by Wes Chang
Welcome to ‘The Vet’s Corner’. We cover topics ranging from pet parenting, pet health and wellness, current events in pet news and stories. *Wild Earth is not a formula made specifically for IBD* Skin and stomach issues lead the pack of reasons why dogs visit the veterinarian. I can’t tell you how many days my veterinary appointment schedule has been completely filled with dogs suffering from skin allergies, vomiting, and diarrhea. Digestive disorders can be incredibly frustrating for pet parents to witness and challenging to diagnose for veterinarians. Because food is often a cause or contributing factor in many cases of GI upset in dogs, I thought I’d share with you some messages from pet parents about how diet helped their dogs. Our little Poodle mix, Luna became very sick last year and was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. She was sent home from the hospital on Prednisone and a special diet Hydrolysed that was Soy based. I really did not want her to be on Prednisone long term so I tried to wean her off of it several times but every time she would relapse. I saw an ad for Wild Earth and decided to try it. I transitioned her to the new food and weaned her off the Prednisone completely! She has gained weight and is back to her happy energetic self. I have also now started our 12 year old Min Pin on Wild Earth and he is also doing great. I couldn't be more pleased.

What is IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs is a common presumptive diagnosis for dogs experiencing chronic diarrhea. I say “presumptive” because IBD is often blamed for nearly any dog that has loose stools for over three weeks. Many veterinarians diagnose IBD based on the common clinical characteristics of chronic vomiting, loose stools, loss of appetite, lethargy, low-grade fever, poor-quality hair coat, and weight loss. Those symptoms can be associated with a large number of medical conditions, making a diagnosis based solely on clinical signs difficult. Intestinal biopsies are required to confirm IBD, meaning many dogs are potentially over-diagnosed. Food-responsive enteropathies (FRE) are an area of intense research and are now considered a primary diagnostic rule-out for any dog suffering from IBD-like symptoms. FRE is exactly what it sounds like; a dog responds to withdrawal of certain intestinal inflammation-causing ingredients. While FRE is technically not a “food allergy,” this form of enteropathy may be more common than previously thought. I have found many dogs diagnosed with IBD actually have FRE or another condition that closely mimics it. The current medical evidence suggests that canine IBD is probably due to several factors or even diseases including genetics, individual immune systems, food and environment, and the gut microbiome. Breeds predisposed to chronic enteropathies such as IBD include soft-coated wheaten terrier, Basenji, Boxer, French bulldog, German shepherd, Norwegian lundehund, and Yorkshire terrier. Chronic GI inflammation due to diet, genetics, or infection can also trigger IBD. Antibiotic-responsive diarrhea (ARD) (also referred to as small intestinal dysbiosis) and new microbiome research also suggest sensitivities or alterations in the gut microbiome are responsible for many cases of chronic enteropathies in dogs. Environmental stress and concurrent hypersensitivities could also play a role.

How Plant-Based may help

Cases such as Luna indicate that plant-based dog foods may help with chronic enteropathies in several ways. The first is by eliminating animal proteins, these at-risk dogs may avoid triggering protein sensitivities such as those associated with IBD or FRE. Another factor is that yeast and plant proteins are known to support a healthy gut microbiome by providing a rich source of dietary fibers, including beta-glucans. And finally, diets that are highly-digestible and contain novel proteins (i.e. proteins not part of their previous diet history, especially meats and dairy) may help prevent or lessen IBD and other chronic enteropathies. Here is another message from a happy pet parent highlighting how our Wild Earth dog food helped her pet: My dog was diagnosed with IBD so we had to find a food that would be digestible and hypoallergenic. Wild Earth was the winner. She loves it. Her symptoms are greatly improved and this food will be in her bowl from now on. Thanks all for the great products!

Know the Difference

It’s important to note that human IBD is very different than IBD in dogs (and cats). This means the clinical signs, diagnostic tests, and treatments vary. I’m often asked if human Crohn’s disease medications or a type of surgery will help a canine patient, and the answer is probably not (and could cause harm in certain instances). The majority of dogs with definitive IBD will require lifelong medical therapy in addition to special diets. If your dog has been diagnosed with IBD or IBD-like symptoms (don’t forget that there may be multiple factors or conditions involved), ask your veterinarian if a plant-based diet could help.

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