Does your cat vomit regularly? Does your dog chronically experience loose stool and a picky appetite? A common cause of these symptoms could be inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats.
What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, often is misused in veterinary circles as a catchall term for chronic gastrointestinal diseases—not unlike when we humans say we have a cold, but we don’t know what virus is causing it. True IBD is an autoimmune disease caused by inflammation in the gastrointestinal system due to an overactive immune system.
Signs of Inflammatory Bowel Disease can include:
- Weight loss
- Low energy
- Excessive gas
- Loud intestinal sounds
- Poor appetite
- Large amounts of diarrhea
Technically speaking, there are several diseases that can cause the same signs as IBD in dogs and cats. These include diseases with mouthful names like food responsive enteropathy, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Also, things like parasites, cancer, infectious diseases, chronic pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism in cats, intestinal obstructions, kidney disease and liver disease can cause the same symptoms.
While all of these diseases can exhibit similar signs, they all require different treatments, and sometimes pets can have more than one disease. This is why testing for the root cause of the signs is critical.
If your veterinarian suspects that your dog or cat has IBD, recommended testing may include fecal testing, bloodwork and urine testing—so make sure to bring in a fresh stool sample! Your veterinarian also might recommend surgery to get a biopsy of the small intestines or may give you the option to get an abdominal ultrasound first.
Click here for more info on diagnosing IBD and how to treat it.