Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease is the primary cause of gastrointestinal problems in both dogs and cats. Chronic vomiting in cats and persistent diarrhea in dogs can be attributed to inflammatory bowel disease. Very often when a pet owner changes pet foods the pet, dog or cat, develops diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. This is not necessarily the pet food, but rather a subclinical form of inflammatory bowel disease.
IBD is precipitated by food allergies, intolerences, bacteria, and parasites. Bacterial infections and intestinal parasites are easily diagnosed and treated with antibiotics and anthelmintics, respectively will usually eliminate the conditions. On the other hand, IBD when caused by food allergies or intolerances is much more difficult to treat and prevent.
Food allergies can be caused by the animal proteins themselves. Most pets are allergic to horsemeat, some to beef, turkey, chicken, and most pets will tolerate lamb. There are other substances in pet foods that can initiate IBD, these being chemical preservatives and color enhancers.
The current veterinary approach to the treatment of IBD is feeding expensive hypoallergenic diets, the administration of cortisone, antibiotics, and antidiarrheal medications. This scenario does not eliminate the problem but is a futile effort to control the disease or a Band-Aid if you will.
The basic pathology involved in IBD is the process of oxidation. There are substances called free radicals that originate from the animal protein and or chemicals in the food that want to live in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract by invading the cells of the intestinal lining. This constant attack by free radicals perpetuates inflammation, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.
Animals with IBD may have very insignificant symptoms such as intermittent vomiting (once or twice monthly) or, more significantly, vomiting may occur immediately after each meal. This disease is frequently observed in boxers and can occur in any breed of dog or cat, at any age, and in both sexes.
A responsible pet owner must be aware of the pet’s diet, i.e. read the label on the can or bag. As previously noted, most pets tolerate lamb best. If you suspect IBD, feed a lamb diet. When the label states “meat and bone meal,” a red flag should go up. What kind of meat? You do not want mystery meat for your pet. If there are unpronounceable ingredients on the label, they’re probably preservatives to give added shelf life to the product. These can act as an allergen, causing IBD. Also be careful of the cute chew toys you bring home, as they may contain substances that will not be tolerated by your pet.
The protocol to treat, prevent, and control IBD begins with an immune system friendly diet. I often recommend California Natural, produced by Natura Pet Products of Santa Clara, CA. This is a superior lamb and rice formula that will not stress a vulnerable gastrointestinal tract.
Therapeutic levels of the antioxidant Vital Tabs for canine IBD, and Vital Liquid for felines contain those antioxidants that counteract the effects of free radicals and oxidation, thereby eliminating the need for expensive special diets, costly drugs, and a fragile existence. The response to this antioxidant protocol ususally takes only four to five days.
IBD is one of several conditions that is discussed by Dr. Belfield in the Mosby textbook, Alternative and Complementary Veterinary Medicine.
In our next issue, read about feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), previously known as feline urologic syndrome (FUS).