IBS In Dogs: What Should I Do if I Think My Dog Might Have IBS?

IBS In Dogs: What Should I Do if I Think My Dog Might Have IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is an uncomfortable condition for dogs which can cause — just as it can for humans — stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. The results can be highly worrying for pet owners, as your pup can show loss of appetite, weight loss and general pain or discomfort in the digestive system. So, what should you be looking out for if you’re concerned that your dog might have IBS? The first step is simple: schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. IBS is just one of many potential causes of digestive upset, and your veterinarian will first seek to rule out physical problems — signs of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), possible infections or parasites, and more. Visiting your vet is the best way to ensure that you and your dog get the right diagnosis and the most effective treatment.

What are the symptoms of IBS in dogs?

Firstly, it’s helpful to understand the difference between IBS and IBD in dogs. While the symptoms can be similar, IBD is a physical disease where the intestinal lining is infiltrated by inflammatory cells, which has an effect on your dog’s ability to absorb nutrients. IBS, on the other hand, is much less common and is psychosomatic, meaning that stress or anxiety may be causing the symptoms. IBD can involve any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract such as the stomach, small intestine or large intestine, while IBS typically affects the large intestine. The two can be differentiated by biopsying the GI tract. For dogs with IBS, biopsy results will be normal because the problem is not physical. There are the numerous symptoms of GI disease to watch for to aid your veterinarian in making a diagnosis of IBS, IBD, and other intestinal conditions:
  • Intermittent versus chronic diarrhea
  • Straining to pass stool
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Sudden urge or urgency to defecate
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Mucousy or bloody stools
However, a thorough exam is crucial to ensure that physical causes can be ruled out before looking into psychological causes such as IBS.

What is the treatment for IBS in dogs?

Once a veterinarian has diagnosed IBS in your dog, the most common recommendation will be to address the stress or anxiety that your dog is experiencing. If your dog has recently experienced some kind of upheaval (such as moving or a change in routine), if there are new loud noises in their immediate environment (such as construction noises or fireworks), or even if simply the weather has changed, they may be suffering from stress or anxiety as a result. As such, your dog’s symptoms may ease up on their own as soon as they are able to feel settled and secure. Veterinarians will typically recommend that you make your dog’s surroundings as calm and as stable as possible. If the source of the anxiety is not clear, or looks to be a permanent fixture, your veterinarian may recommend anti-anxiety medication. Increasing dietary fiber can also be helpful to many dogs suffering from IBS. High fiber food can help them to normalize the spasms of the large intestinal muscles and reduce abdominal pain.

What can I feed my dog with irritable bowel syndrome?

If your dog is diagnosed with IBS, your veterinarian will be able to recommend a suitable diet for your dog. They will most likely suggest foods that are high in fiber to help improve the health of the digestive tract and ease symptoms. It is best to closely follow the diet recommended by your veterinarian, and (no matter if the urge is strong!) resist the temptation to feed your dog unapproved treats or table scraps, even in small amounts. During your visit, ask your veterinarian if Canidae’s wide range of nutritious dog foods, made exclusively from quality ingredients, could be suitable for your dog. Our foods help to promote long-term gut health by giving dogs the complete and balanced diet they need to lead a healthy life. No fillers, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives, just pure, wholesome ingredients. Check out our handy guide to see how you can gently transition your dog to a Canidae diet today, and start giving them goodness with every bite! Veterinary resource: Veterinary Information Network, 2020.