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TumFlora for Dogs

Natural Support for IBD in dogs

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Vet Tech Rounds: IBD in Dogs

Vet Talks 5 min read
German shepherd dog laying on bed and looking sad - ibd in dogs

Is your dog suffering from vomiting or chronic diarrhea? Do they seem tired, and have a poor coat condition. These symptoms may indicate that your dog is suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBD in dogs is a common gastrointestinal issue.

Once inflammatory cells start to take over the GI tract, they may cause thickening and this will upset the normal functions such as absorption and the movement of food, also known as peristalsis.

Inflammatory or Irritable Bowel Disease also known as IBD is a common gastrointestinal problem in pets and people. When a pet has IBD, there are inflammatory cells inside the body that begin to invade the gastrointestinal tract (GI).

The stomach, small intestine, and large intestine are part of the GI tract. Once inflammatory cells start to take over the GI tract, they may cause thickening and this will upset the normal functions such as absorption and the movement of food, also known as peristalsis.

There is no definitive cause for IBD in pets, but there are many different reasons that it can be triggered, such as parasites, autoimmune conditions, and food allergies.

IBD in Dogs – Symptoms

It is not unusual for dogs to have bouts of diarrhea or vomiting from time to time, it may just be something that didn’t agree with them; maybe they’ve eaten too much or sometimes, not enough. If your pup begins to vomit and the stools are soft on a regular basis, it’s important to watch out for these signs and other symptoms like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Straining to defecate
Funny pug dog sitting on a flor posing

Types of IBD

What many don’t know is that there are different types of IBD such as:

Lymphoplasmacytic Enteritis

This is the most common type that we would see in our dogs. This is caused by a build-up of two white blood cells, lymphocytes, and plasma cells, in the GI tract lining. If this type is left untreated it can cause scarring of the tissue and may develop into secondary to severe IBD.

Gastrointestinal Lymphoma and IBD in pets, present (show) with very similar symptoms. The only way to determine one from the other is through a definitive diagnosis.

An ultrasound can show up swollen Lymph nodes, lumps, bumps, and masses, but it will not detect early-stage Lymphoma. The TK-1, a blood panel test, cannot identify whether the cancer is a large or small cell and a negative test may not mean your pet does not have cancer. The best way to diagnose either of these conditions is through a biopsy. Treatment can then be discussed, whether that means chemo, surgery along with holistic and supportive care.

Eosinophilic Enteritis

It is usually caused by an allergic reaction to a dietary protein. A strict diet must be formulated in order to eliminate the cause of the IBD, along with medical treatment. This can be more common in dogs that are sensitive to many foods.

Antibiotic Responsive Diarrhea

This will occur when there are bacteria growing in the small intestine. It is generally caused by anatomic defects, underlying intestinal problems, and overuse of medication such as antibiotics. It can be controlled and treated.


This type, technically, would not be considered an inflammatory disease but the signs that your pup may present with can be very similar to IBD symptoms. Lymphangiectasia is caused by an obstruction of the lymphatic system or the intestinal tract and it can be difficult to determine the underlying cause. Secondary lymphangiectasia can lead to severe IBD. Small and medium breeds seem to recover better than larger breed dogs.

Small yellow dog laying down in his bed with star pattern


Your veterinarian will usually perform a physical examination, take the history and check the stool. They will use x-rays (ultrasound) and lab work to rule out other conditions. There are other problems that may cause your pet to present with similar symptoms such as a parasite burden, kidney and liver disease, cancer, and foreign bodies in the intestine.

A blood report can prove to be beneficial for ruling many other causes out and it can also detect low protein levels that are associated with IBD, caused by the loss of proteins through the intestine.

To confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy can be taken from the stomach or the intestines. The biopsy can be taken either endoscopically or surgically.

Labrador retriever is laying near a big empty dogfood bowl.

Treatment and Support

Diet is vital when it comes to managing and controlling IBD. The aim is to reduce antigenic stimulation in the GI tract’s immune system. Certain diets such as a hypoallergenic or elimination diet with a source of protein that they would not be familiar with, home-cooked diets may work well. Dogs with IBD should not be given treats (depending on the kind of treats you are giving your dog – check with your vet about them). Pets that suffer from diarrhea, should be fed a diet that is higher in fiber.

IBD is believed to be caused by the body incorrectly signaling inflammatory cells to the intestines. Therefore, the immune system needs to be suppressed (balanced). Immunosuppression – the balance of the immune system – can only be achieved by using medications, such as anti-inflammatories (corticosteroids) and certain antibiotics can be used to decrease the inflammatory cells attacking the GI.

Natural supplements may be helpful for controlling IBD.

TumFlora is our main supplement for IBD in pets. This unique blend of herbs can help to relieve uncomfortable IBD-related symptoms and improve natural intestinal flora while promoting gut health.

We also have our IBD kit available on the website, that can help to support pets suffering from IBD. The Kit contains two supplements:

NHV Inulin-PK: This formula has broad-spectrum activity. It can be used as a natural dewormer and it can help to repair damage caused by parasites or IBD. It will support the Gastrointestinal Tract healing and it will help to protect/regenerate the liver too.

NHV Plantaeris: It helps maintain normal bowel function and helps relieves spasms of the digestive tract while reducing discomfort.

NHV Yucca: Can help provide discomfort relief for inflammation, helps with digestion, and improves appetite. It also encourages the body to produce its own natural corticosteroids which is what will help with discomfort and inflammation.

The other supplement that we would recommend for pets with irregular bowel movements:

NHV Maris: This is our herbal formula for constipation. It can help to promote regular bowel movements and softer stools. It helps relieve digestive congestion and inflammation and supports good colon and gastrointestinal health.

If you have any questions on Inflammatory Bowel Disease in dogs or need recipes or advice on natural supplements, please contact our pet experts. We’re here to help you and your furbaby!

Holly RVN

Holly RVN

Holly graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland. She also completed a 1-year Animal Care course. Worked in small Animal Veterinary practice for 3+ years before moving on to working in the Equine Industry. Holly is passionate about animals and spends much of her spare time going on long walks with her Boston Terrier, Lloyd.

Published: March 31, 2020

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