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
- Decreased appetite
- Mucousy or bloody stools