We know Inflammatory bowel disease is a digestive disorder that affects humans but it can also plague your pets.

Inflammatory bowel disease is defined by an accumulation of inflammatory cells in the lining of a pet’s stomach, small intestine and/or large intestine – causing digestive distress.

Dr. Yoojin Kim from BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Grand Rapids joined WZZM 13 to answer basic questions about IBD.

What are the signs of IBD?

IBD comes in different forms and can range in severity, so your pet may experience some signs but not others. Common signs of IBD include chronic vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea and loss of appetite. If IBD is affecting the large intestine, signs include diarrhea with or without blood or mucous present, straining to defecate and increased urgency to defecate.

How is it diagnosed?

To accurately diagnose IBD, your veterinarian will need to perform a biopsy of the intestines and/or stomach. Your doctor can obtain a sample through surgery or by using an endoscope, an instrument used to examine inside a pet’s body. Once the biopsy is completed, a pathologist will confirm the diagnosis by examining the cells.

While a biopsy is necessary for diagnosis, other information about your pet’s health can be helpful to rule out other digestive complications and diseases. Your veterinarian may perform a physical examination, ask about medical history or order laboratory tests during the diagnosis process.

What causes IBD?

The causes of IBD are still undetermined by veterinarians. However, IBD is suspected to be a result of an abnormal response by the body to certain intestinal bacteria or proteins in a pet’s diet.

How do you treat IBD?

Upon diagnosis, your veterinarian will work with you to develop a custom treatment plan for your pet. Two common treatment options are dietary changes and medication.

Dietary management is recommended if your veterinarian believes a protein in the diet is causing the inflammation. Changes to the diet can also encourage nutrient absorption and easy digestion. Your veterinarian may recommend limiting certain food ingredients or provide you with a recipe for homemade dog food.

Common medications which veterinarians use to treat IBD include anti-inflammatory drugs such as prednisone, and antibiotics such as metronidazole or tetracycline.

What is the prognosis for IBD?

Some pets may require either long-term dietary management or low dose medical therapy throughout their lives. Though IBD cannot be cured, the goal of treatment is to control the symptoms and improve quality of life. For more information, talk to your primary veterinarian.

BluePearl Veterinary Partners is located in Grand Rapids on the Medical Mile just East of Fuller. Click here to visit their website.