Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Managing Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Dogs

My dog, Bozo; a golden retriever, first showed signs of this disease when he was a lil over one year old. He suddenly started throwing up, and had diarrhea which simply wouldn't respond to OTC medications like smecta, loperamide etc. He was on home made meals at this time, usually steamed chicken or lamb with rice.

His vet put him on a 7 day dose of metronidazole, which stopped his symptoms, and helped him recover a little bit of weight over the week. However the symptoms reappeared within a few days of stopping his medication, and he seemed visibly down, in pain and no appetite. This time, he went through a 21 day dose of metronidazole, which again helped, however the symptoms reappeared just as fast once medication was over.
This time, his vet recommended a SCAN of his digestive track, which revealed inflammation, and he was diagnosed with IBD- usually a condition that requires careful management through one's life.

And so began , my journey on understanding the disease, and finding foods that would keep Bozo healthy. With the long drawn illness and low appetite he had become a very picky eater, so finding food that would help manage his IBD, while also appealing to him was a challenge. Am jotting down below some things that I discovered over time/ things that helped finally manage Bozo, hoping this might be of help to others, battling with similar problems.

Managing IBD with Food
Prescription Vet Diets:-These are by far one's best, as they give the dog balanced nutrition, are easy to organize, and have the necessary supplements to keep your dog in a good condition. I found Eukanuba/ Iams Low Residue and Food Response the best for these, however they are low on palatability, and if you have a fussy dog like mine, it might be a challenge to move him to Low Residue. Though the results were best on this one. Bozo had recovered some lost weight, and his coat had significantly improved while on this variant. I have finally settled on Royal Canin Intestinal and Sensitivity Control which are high on palatability, and have better protein content and higher calories than Hills Diet. Bozo has recovered a little weight over time with Royal Canin. Dogs suffering from IBD usually have low body weights, a small appetite and reduced nutrition absorption, so it helps to give them compact higher calorie nutrition in a digestible form.

Home Cooked Food: Steamed white fish with boiled potatoes or rice, works best for such dogs due to its anti infammatory propertise and easy digestibility. However it will be low on calories, and will need to be supplemented with protein , calcium and Vitamin B supplements .Check for foods which do not cause allergic reactions. IBD and allergic response to several foods go hand in hand.)

BARF: Raw meat and bones indeed are easier to digest than cooked food, and Bozo initially did fine on them. What I probably did wrong was continuing with dog biscuits as treats while he was on BARF. A mix of cooked and uncooked food doesn't go well with dogs suffering from IBD. It often results in diarrhea bouts, and thats what happened to Bozo. Also be careful as to chose sources with easy digestibility and anti inflammatory properties like fish and rabbit.

Choosing Treats: You might have gotten the food right, but the dog can still suffer from frequent bouts if you are indulging him with treats you couldn't resist picking up, when you went shopping for him. And I have been guilty of this for Bozo, for a long time.
  1. Avoid Wheat/ gluten when buying treats for your dog with IBD. The normal IAMS/ Hills/ supermarket brand biscuits all contain wheat and chicken by products- and can lead to diarrhea even if given in small quantities to a dog with IBD.
  2. Pure fish and rice based treats work best ( Salmon/ Cod can cause allergy too)
  3. Usually raw hide treats- those skin shoes, and other chew toys are safe. You could offer these, and stock up on them, if your dog seems to be doing fine on them.
Supplements that can help reduce IBD flare ups/ help your dog:
  1. Omega 3 fish and flax seed oil capsules
  2. Vitamin B complex/ B 5, keeps inflammation low, and helps improve his appetite
  3. A wholistic protein power like Nupro All Supplement for Dogs- which has lactobacil, kelp , vitamins for managing digestive track and amino acids to strengthen organs.
I have found metronidazole and prednisolone to work best for Bozo. Sometimes in combination, when the flare ups are bad. Best to work with your vet on dosage/ what would work for your dog.

The best way of managing IBD is through food. Avoid indulging your dog with usual dog food and treats. and that should significantly relieve the symptoms.

One last word on IBD. IBD incidences also go up when the dog is nervous or anxious. Helping him stay calm, can also over all improve his digestive health. In mild cases Bach Flower remedies can come in handy. In more severe cases, if you find your dog anxious or nervous or depressed, consult your vet immediately, and it is more than likely to impact his digestive system and lead to flare ups of IBD.