We have all had to clean up after our dogs from an “accident”. However, you don’t expect to always have to take them out to do their business, or clean your floors all the time when they answer the call of nature. Alternatively, your dog shouldn’t have to frequently use the bathroom right after they eat. They shouldn’t suffer from stomach aches either. In these cases, there may be a larger issue at hand: Irritable Bowel Syndrome in dogs. Thankfully, IBS is mostly curable and managed.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a medical condition that causes inflammation in the bowel’s lining. This inflammation results in stomach issues or problems with the intestines.
The muscles function improperly and could produce diarrhea or constipation. It’s a chronic issue and can lead to many other unpleasant symptoms.
Canine IBS symptoms relate to the stomach. The main symptoms are watery diarrhea and constipation. IBS in dogs often includes painful gas or a “gas bubble” sound that comes from the stomach. However, because these two symptoms can be the result of many conditions. It’s recommended to seek a vet’s advice.
Other symptoms can vary. Your dog might have bloating, depression, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, mucus in feces, abdominal sensitivity, loss of appetite, weight loss, and discomfort when laying on the stomach. Your dog may also struggle to have any bowel movements, which can present other issues too like anal tearing or bleeding.
What Causes Intestinal Inflammation in Dogs?
Causes of inflammation aren’t always clear. Sometimes, triggers aren’t seemingly noticeable, or sometimes inflammation will happen without any triggers. The digestive tract inflames at the walls and causes the symptoms but there are other factors that could trigger the condition.
The known factors that can cause inflammation are similar to humans. Some factors include:
- Food intolerances
- Bowel obstructions or impactions
- Irritations to the digestive system
IBS in dogs has been believed to be a psychosomatic disease. It’s thought that the mind causes the symptoms. In humans, people that have experienced large amounts of stress at once also seem to have intestinal stress.
In dogs, many cases of IBS have stress and anxiety-related triggers. You might have recently moved, acquired a new pet. There may be sudden weather changes. Even simple construction nearby could trigger an episode. It’s important to reduce stress in your dog as much as possible when possible. For unavoidable events, your vet may recommend anti-anxiety medication for your dog.
Some other common causes like overeating, food intolerance, or allergies can trigger IBS episodes. Dogs with IBS see better results with natural, easily-digestible diets. You’ll want to limit the ingredients. Pet food is often heavily processed and contains additives like colors and flavoring. These can irritate sensitive stomachs.
You will want to avoid table scraps and even certain kinds of treats, too. You might think it’s cute when your dog shares your food or wants to eat with you. Unfortunately, dogs’ digestive systems do differ from ours. We can unintentionally feed our dogs food that is good for us (grapes for example) but is dangerous or harmful to them.
Allergies to certain food can trigger episodes. Your dog may suddenly become allergic to its food if the brand changes the formula. Alternatively, if you feed them human food, these foods may be harmful or cause stomach sensitivities that lead to IBS.
You want to watch how much your dog eats, too. You may think that they can stop when they’re full like you can. However, dogs sometimes have a hard time stopping eating. They will eat and eat if you keep putting food in front of them. Your vet can help determine how much your dog should have to eat daily. Try your best to keep in those guidelines. This can help to avoid deficiencies, too, which also can trigger an IBS attack.
On the other side, some medical problems and conditions may cause IBS in dogs. Tumors or impacted bowels will trigger attacks. Antibiotics may cause attacks, too – that’s right! Medication that may be vital to your dog’s health could potentially cause episodes of IBS. Luckily, these episodes from medication or medical issues will subside once it has been treated or cured.
If you suspect your dog may have a medical problem, take them immediately to your vet.
For some dogs, IBS is a life-long struggle they will have to deal with. The best you can do is seek advice from your vet for the best ways to help handle the situation. In certain cases, medicines, changes in diets, or reduction of stress can ease symptoms and make them manageable for your dog and you.
How Do Vets Diagnose IBS in Dogs?
IBS resembles many other health conditions in dogs. It’s important to seek a vet immediately because it may be a more serious disease. It could also risk dehydration in your dog. IBS isn’t easily diagnosed. Your vet must rule out various other illnesses first before a diagnosis is conclusive.
To begin, your vet will order bloodwork to test for any illnesses. A blood test will rule out abnormal blood cell counts, kidney enzymes, and liver levels. It’ll also show if the pancreas is functioning properly. Your vet will order other tests too. To check for blockages, your vet will image the abdomen with an ultrasound or X-ray. This will rule out any tumors, abnormal movement of the intestines, or severe constipation.
Your vet will order a PCR test for viruses or a culture of the feces. A culture will determine if a bacterial infection is present. In some cases, your dog may need to have a biopsy of the intestines.
Once illness or other conditions have been ruled out, your vet will recommend a special diet. This will allow the vet to see if there’s a specific trigger or food intolerance.
How Do You Treat IBS in Dogs?
Once it’s been confirmed your dog has IBS, it can be managed. It’s important to note that IBS can’t be cured but it’s treatable. Your vet may offer a change in diet first or a combination with a diet change and medication.
Diet changes like a more digestible diet with high fiber can help. It will calm inflammation in the gut and reduce the instances of diarrhea. Dogs are often allergic to many common proteins.
Food such as eggs, wheat, chicken, corn, beef, and milk can irritate the stomach. It’s best to eliminate these common allergens even if they don’t cause an episode. Antispasmodic medications will calm the stomach and intestines.
Your vet may also recommend anti-diarrheal medicine and probiotics when your dog experiences an episode. This will help reduce diarrhea and balance the gut microbiota.
Many IBS episodes have been found to be triggered when a stressful event happens. The reduction of stress and anxiety will prevent symptoms.
Products to Help with Canine IBS
Perfect Poop Digestion & Health Supplement for Dogs
You may ask yourself, “How can I improve my dog’s gut health?”. This product features a four-in-one formula. It boosts your dog’s immune system and increases their overall health. It increases the absorption of nutrients and includes prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber. This helps to heal and maintain your dog’s gut.
You also won’t have to purchase several items since it contains several in one. This will save you money, too. Unlike most products of this caliber, it doesn’t come in powder or pill form. It’s solid grass bits that mix in with your dog’s food, so you won’t have to chase them down to get them to take it. It’s flavored with cheddar cheese or chicken (chicken fat).
Pros and Cons
- Helps stimulate healthy bowel movements
- Taste loved by dogs/They take it without trouble
- Reduction in gas and bad breath
- May cause diarrhea in healthier dogs/dogs without IBS symptoms
Nutramax Proviable Health Supplement
Nurtamax is a digestive health supplement that contains a unique formula. Most digestive formulas for dogs contain only one probiotic and a prebiotic. This one has seven strains of probiotics with prebiotic. The multiple strains in the formula help to colonize better than a single strain.
The company mentions how the formula is ideal for pets that struggle with intestinal imbalance. They mention how it reduces stressors on sensitive stomachs to promote better gut health and solid stools. It comes in capsule form. You can open the capsule and sprinkle it on your dog’s food for easy giving and taking. Alternatively, you can give them the capsule directly.
Pros and Cons
- Can use for both dogs and cats
- Contains multiple probiotic strains
- Easy to give/mess-free administration
- Doesn’t have a taste for animals
- Reduces foul odor from stool
- Reports on Amazon say it’s best to purchase the product from your vet due to worries of counterfeit
Glandex Anal Gland Soft Chews
Glandex is a product formulated to support healthy anal glands. It features ingredients like pumpkin seed, omega fatty acids, prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. These ingredients work to bolster the digestive tract and the anal glands.
The company guarantees their formula will start to heal an irritated anal gland and promote bulkier and firmer stools. It may take up to three to five weeks to work. The formula doesn’t have any unpleasant flavoring like many products do. You won’t have to worry about messy powders or the chance to make messes with the soft chews.
Pros and Cons
- Doesn’t cost much money compared to other brands/value and quality for your money
- Dogs don’t have any issue taking the chews/good flavoring
- Ideal for less severe conditions
- Relieves “scooting” issues too
- Negative side effects possible like vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, gas, or nausea
- Takes weeks before you may see results
Vets Preferred Anti Diarrhea Liquid
When your dog suffers from IBS, diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms. Until you can make any changes or get to a vet, you’ll need a product to calm diarrhea in the meantime. The last thing you want is for your dog to become dehydrated or you to continue to clean messes.
Vets Preferred works within two to three days. You can administer it every 12 hours. It relieves gas, bloating, and cramping that’s associated with diarrhea in dogs. It contains pectin fiber and kaolin clay in its formula. You can give it to your dog directly or mixed in their food.
Unlike many products, it doesn’t contain any flavoring, so you don’t have to worry whether they will prefer it or not.
Pros and Cons
- Firms stool regardless of why they have diarrhea
- Doesn’t have a smell or taste to dogs/easy to take
- By day three, stool takes form and less frequently
- Does take a few days to work/medication from the vet works faster
NaturVet Digestive Enzymes Plus
NaturVet contains prebiotics and probiotics with a live source of microorganisms. These microorganisms help to promote a healthier digestive tract. The probiotics in the food include enzymes that help break down food to increase the absorption of nutrients.
Dogs and even cats benefit from NaturVet. Those with sensitive stomachs and gas receive relief. How? It replaces any enzymes lost when their food gets processed. It’s meant to be used as a daily supplement. It comes in either powder (scoop included) or chews.
Pros and Cons
- Dogs feel a reduction in gas
- Promotes solid stools
- Doesn’t cost much for the amount you get at daily use
- Works on both dogs and cats
- Does have a weird smell to humans
Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Dogs: Final Thoughts
IBS in dogs can cause distress for your dog and you. You may not know what to do or how to help your pet. Luckily, you can speak with a vet, and they can recommend many options to reduce IBS attacks. In many cases, IBS clears up once the issue has been treated or cured. In rare cases, your dog may have to live with random attacks. However, they can be addressed and managed.
Your dog may contract IBS from various ailments and ones you can prevent. For example, one of the main causes of IBS in dogs is anxiety. Your vet may provide techniques or medication to reduce anxiety in your dog. Similarly, changes in diet may also solve the problem. Once you speak with your vet and they conduct a thorough examination, you can begin to reduce IBS in your dog.