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Does Your Dog Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome? What You Need To Know

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) can affect your dog. If your dog is frequently having trouble going to the bathroom or has constant diarrhea, she may have IBS or IBD. Here’s what you need to know.

What is IBD? Is it different from IBS?

Like the human version, canine IBD is a gastrointestinal disorder where the intestine is consistently inflamed for long periods of time.

According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation®, “IBD occurs when cells involved in inflammation and immune response are called into the lining of the GI tract. This causes the bowel lining to thicken and interferes with absorption or motility, or the ability of the bowel to contract and move food.” (

It is DIFFERENT from IBS, which is mainly stressed-induced and treated by relieving the stress. IBS can also be caused by dietary fiber deficiencies or something in the diet causing upset (allergies or sensitivities). The AKC Canine Health Foundation said it is often confused with IBD, which is a true disease that is treated with medication.

Whose at Risk?

The AKC Canine Health Foundation says that IBD is more common in dogs that are over 5 years old, though it can be seen in a dog at any age. In addition, certain breeds are more prone to the disease than others:

  • German Shepherd
  • Boxer
  • Shar-Pei
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Rottweiler

IBS can be found in any dog that is under a lot stress: a move, a new pet or human in the house, a long trip, are just some of the environmental conditions that can cause IBS.


The symptoms of IBD are:

  • Persistent loose stools
  • Frequent, smaller stools
  • Straining and diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Low grade fevers
  • Lethargy

(Source: AKC Canine Health Foundation)

The Symptoms of IBS are:

  • Chronic, occasional diarrhea
  • Small amounts of feces with mucus
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting


Diagnoses & Treatment

Since IBD is a disease, you need to see the vet to get diagnosed (blood panels, urinalysis, or biopsy) and the recommendations for treatment which can include:

  • Suppressing the immune system
  • Slowing down intestinal motility
  • Coating and protecting the lining of the intestine
  • Killing bacteria
  • Limiting specific diet ingredients that may be irritating

(Source: AKC Canine Health Foundation)

For IBS, dietary change is the most common treatment.

According to, “It is highly recommended that dogs that have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome be fed a diet that is highly digestible and has a high volume of fiber in order to help restore and maintain the normal bodily function of the digestive tract.” In addition, you should relieve stress in your dog’s life.

Peggy Lange from Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company, has a few suggestions for dog owners looking to help their pets with IBS.

“Canned food is much better than extruded dry kibble for dogs with IBS because canned foods are generally cooked between 150-170 degrees which helps keep digestive enzymes in the can. (ie. more bioavailable and easier to digest),” Lange recommends.

Evangerscanned food
Look for a premium food that is processed in such a way that it is easy to digest and has simple ingredients. Source: Evanger’s Dog Food

She goes on to explain that you should follow your veterinarian’s recommendation, because it truly depends on the dog and the specific situation. Vets usually put the dog on a prescription diet of canned food with enzymes. But, if you are going for grocery store or less expensive foods, their processing usually kills the valuable pro-digestive enzymes; so make sure you are using a high-quality food.

If the IBS is allergy related, Lange recommends a pate form of a single protein, which is easy on the digestive tract.

Made in the U.S.A of American ingredients, Evanger’s would be a good choice if you are looking for something easy for your dog to digest. For dogs with IBS, they recommend a pate type/loaf style such as the Evanger’s Super Premium line with Spinach and Kale which is all ground up which is the easiest to digest.  Also, all of the Evanger’s pure exotic meats (5 oz cans) of Buffalo, Pheasant, etc. are also a great option.

About the Author

Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.

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Written by Kristina Lotz
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