As stated by Dr. Shawn Messonnier in his book titled “Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats”, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS or IBD) is the name given to a group of conditions that are characterized by pathologic (the branch of medicine that studies disease and especially the essential nature of disease) evidence of inflammation of the intestinal tract, which is associated with gastrointestinal signs. These are usually chronic and persistent.
The clinical signs most commonly seen in pets with inflammatory bowel disease often reflect the location of the intestinal inflammation. Vomiting, diarrhea, and / or weight loss usually are observed. Inflammation affecting the upper GI (gastrointestinal) tract (stomach and upper small intestine) are more likely to cause vomiting, whereas inflammation of the lower small intestinal tract and colon are more likely to cause diarrhea.
There are many causes of inflammatory bowel disease, and include parasites (whipworms, giardia), fungi (histoplasmosis , protothecosis), bacterial (Salmonella , Campylobacter , pathogenic E. coli), food allergy / hypersensitivity, cancer (lymphosarcoma , adenocarcinoma), and idiopathic (unknown cause named by the type of pathogenic white blood cells seen in biopsy specimens such as eosinophilic , lymphocytic-plasmacytic, or granulomatous). Most commonly the idiopathic (relating to or denoting any disease or condition that arises spontaneously or for which the cause is unknown) classification of inflammatory bowel disease is seen in dogs and cats. As noted by Dr Messonnier, while there is no known cause of idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease, most doctors suspect some type of allergy as this is an immune disease 1. The allergy or sensitivity might be due to the diet as many mild cases can respond to dietary manipulation, bacterial antigens, or self-antigens (an autoimmune disorder). Allergies to food components usually involve cereal grains (wheat, barley, and oats, all of which contain gluten, a common dietary protein in many cereal grains), meats, and rarely eggs.
Leaky Gut Syndrome, Intestinal Dysbiosis, Intestinal Hyperpermeability
Dr Messonnier further states that the huuman and veterinary literature discuss a condition called the “leaky gut syndrome”. This theory holds that in some people and pets, whole proteins leak through the wall of the digestive tract due to a hyper-permeable condition (also referred to as a porous bowel), and enter the blood, causing allergic reactions.
These reactions may include food allergies, arthritis, auto-immune diseases, impaired nutrient absorption, and chemical sensitivities. It is theorised that many chronic diseases, often treated for years with various conventional medications, may in fact result from leaky gut syndrome.
One organism that has been postulated to be responsible for some of the signs seen in people and pets with leaky gut (what scientists call increased intestinal permeability) syndrome is the common yeast Candida albicans (from “Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life”) 2. This yeast has been observed to enter the bloodstream from the intestinal tract, and may cause chronic allergies. Overgrowth of this yeast and other organisms may occur in pets with chronic intestinal disease and in pets undergoing chronic antibiotic or Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) therapy. The organisms can produce toxins that cause leaky gut syndrome. The increased intestinal permeability may allow greater absorption of the micro-organisms and their toxins, causing further harm.
While controlled studies are lacking, holistic doctors often attempt gastrointestinal detoxification, using enzymes, prebiotics, probiotics, glutamine, and so forth, for pets with many diseases in an attempt to first heal a leaky gut that may be contributing to clinical signs or disease.
Dietary therapy is an important part of any treatment plan for pets with inflammatory bowel disease in addition to other conventional or complementary therapies. Avoiding food which aggravate or heighten the bowl inflammation is an important component of recovery.
Severe inflammation of the intestinal tract can cause increased absorption of large food particles (molecules) that normally do not cross the intestinal barriers, possibly causing the formation of auto-antibodies, which may lead to auto-immune diseases and further intestinal damage.
Many of these pets may require chronic therapy with medications, such as corticosteroids and antibiotics, and / or natural supplements, such as probiotics, glutamine and so on. Dietary therapy is quite helpful in these pets and, when combined with appropriate supplements in pets with mild disease, may be the only therapy needed.
As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.
Principal Natural Solution
- Glutamine, natural diet, orthomolecular therapy, antioxidants, enzymes, prebiotics / probiotics
Supporting Natural Solutions
- MSM, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, DMG, aloe Vera, Boswella (ulcerative colitis), calendula, chamomile, marshmallow, raspberry leaf, and slippery elm;
Did You Know? Raw, clean tripe (see our article on Prebiotics) (not chemically washed) is the most natural prebiotic available for your pet today. Consider mixing in some whole tripe chunks or rough minced into their meals, or periodically feed the complete tripe meal.
IBS Herbal Support Blend
Start by switching your fur kid to natural raw cuisine. Once your fur kids transitioned to raw, typically between 4 and 6 weeks, introduce our IBS Herbal Support Blend into the diet. The IBS Support Blend is carminative, anti-microbial and soothing 100% herbal blend for relief. The IBS Support Blend contains Brewer’s Yeast, Mint, Fennel seed, Ginger root, Chamomile flowers, Aniseed, Turmeric, Slippery Elm Bark, Psyllium husk and Milk Thistle seed.
These can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies. The natural treatments are widely used with variable success but have not been thoroughly investigated and proven at this time.
Additional Articles and Videos
Good reference articles & videos further reading available at:
- Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life, Mary L. Wulff, Greg L. Tilford (Google Books);
- [NCBI] Autoimmunity and the Gut, Andrew W. Campbell (PubMED);
- [NCBI] Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization, Carol A. Kumamoto (PubMED);
- The Wrong Way to Treat GI Inflammation (Mercola);
- The Hidden Inflammatory Bowel Disease That Threatens Your Pet’s Well-Being (Mercola);
- Role of the gut microbiota in inflammatory bowel disease pathogenesis: What have we learnt in the past 10 years? National Institutes of Health (PubMED);
- Probiotics: A Simple Step to Radically Boost Your Pet’s Immune System (Mercola);
- Revealed: The Root Reason So Many Pets Today Are Sick, by Dr Karen Becker (Mercola);
- Dysbiosis: The Root Cause of Many Other Pet Health Problems, by Dr Karen Becker (Mercola);