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Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Dogs

Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Dogs

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder. This article provides the information related to the symptoms and treatment of this disorder in dogs.
Bidisha Mukherjee
Irritable bowel syndrome can be described as a dog health problem wherein the rhythmic contraction of the digestive tract of your pet gets affected. It is believed that this is due to a problem in communication between the autonomous nervous system and muscles of the large intestine. This results in abnormal movements of food and waste material in the stomach and intestines. In this condition, a large amount of mucus and toxins get accumulated in the intestine and block the digestive tract partially, causing distention in the stomach. It can happen to all dog breeds and both sexes are equally prone to it. In most cases, the exact cause is unknown. As the problem is associated with the nervous system, stress could be one of the contributing factors. Besides, poor eating habits, food allergies, and blockage of the digestive tract due to ingestion of objects like toys can also be held responsible.


As the bowel movement is not consistent, constipation and diarrhea are the two commonly observed symptoms, and they often occur alternately. In diarrhea, small volumes of soft stool are passed quite frequently. The morning bowel movement could be normal, but in the later part of the day, it becomes loose or runny and continues throughout the day. Mucus can be found in the stool. The diarrhea episode may be followed by constipation, when the stool is hard and the dog feels a strain to defecate. Occasional vomiting or nausea is another symptom. Sometimes, it is accompanied by diarrhea. Abdominal pain happens mainly due to flatulence and excessive bloating. The intensity of the pain may vary from mild to severe. Sometimes, the pet may develop intolerance towards some foods. Along with all these symptoms, if your dog starts losing weight drastically, then it is a clear indication that it is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBD).


The most important part of the treatment is dietary modification. The diet prescribed is different in every individual case. Some pets respond very well to the bone and raw food diet (BARF), while home-cooked food may suit others. Improvement in the condition could be seen in some dogs after inclusion of white or brown rice in the diet. High-fiber dog food may work for some. Therefore, you have to experiment to check which one works best for your pet and stick to it. One important thing is that when the pet is suffering from IBD, the diet should be kept very simple. Keep the dog away from all those dog foods that contain synthetic preservatives, spicy foods, dairy products, etc., as these tend to worsen the condition. Proteins and grains should not be given together. Many pets do not get cured with dietary changes alone. In those cases, suitable medicines are prescribed by a veterinarian. Those who get diarrhea frequently or show an urgency to defecate are administered with anti-diarrheal drugs. To control flatulence and bloating, anti-gas medicines are prescribed. Antispasmodic medicines may also be given to control abnormal muscular spasms of the stomach and the intestine.

Irritable bowel syndrome is one such dog illness that causes a lot of frustration to both the pet owners and the pet, as the symptoms tend to flare up repeatedly after frequent intervals of time. Even though it leads to a deterioration in the dog's health, this is not a life-threatening condition. It will not have any adverse effect on the life expectancy of your pet. With proper care and regular visits to the vet, you can keep the symptoms in check.