INFLAMMATORY bowel disease (IBD) is a common intestinal disease of dogs and cats, characterised by chronic (longer than three weeks) gastrointestinal signs of unknown origin.
It is thought to be caused by an abnormal immune response, which causes inflammation of the lining of the small and large intestines. The condition is most prevalent in middle-aged dogs and cats (five to six years) but can affect patients of any age.
Breeds commonly affected include German shepherds, Shar Peis, soft-coated Wheaten terriers, Lundehunds and boxers, although other breeds can also be affected. In some dog breeds, the condition occurs concurrently with kidney failure, while in cats, it can occur alongside liver failure and pancreatitis.
Mild IBD may cause intermittent clinical signs, whereas severe IBD is characterised by progressive and severe clinical signs. Signs include decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy, typical diarrhoea (bloody and or slimy) and occasional vomiting.
The goal of therapy is to control clinical signs, as a cure may not be attainable. Management of the condition involves medical and nutritional intervention. Dogs and cats with IBD are often placed on chronic medication and special prescription diets. Regular evaluation of body weight and overall clinical condition is important in assessing efficacy of a treatment regimen.
Other common conditions which may cause similar clinical signs include intestinal foreign bodies, intestinal parasites, liver and kidney disease. Consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis if you suspect your dog or cat to be suffering from IBD.