What is inflammatory bowel disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a syndrome rather than a disease. The syndrome is caused by a specific reaction to irritation of the intestinal tract. Most dogs with IBD have a history of recurrent or chronic vomiting or diarrhoea and may have a poor appetite.

During periods of vomiting or diarrhoea, your dog may lose weight, but is normal and energetic otherwise.

Dog's stomach and colon

What causes this disease?

The cause of IBD is poorly understood. In fact, it appears there are several causes. Whatever the cause, the end result is that the lining of the intestine is invaded by inflammatory cells. An allergic-type response then occurs within the intestinal tract. This inflammation interferes with the ability to digest and absorb nutrients.

In most instances, an exact underlying cause cannot be identified; however, possible causes include:

  • parasitic or bacterial infection (e.g. Salmonella, E. coli, or Giardia)
  • reaction to a specific protein in their diet


What are the clinical signs of IBD and how is it diagnosed?

IBD can involve any part of the digestive gastrointestinal tract, but most commonly affects the stomach and/or the intestines.

“If the stomach is involved, your dog will experience chronic vomiting. If the intestines are involved, chronic diarrhoea will occur.”

Tests that may be performed besides x-rays and possible tissue biopsies done by your vet are:

  • faecal tests – these tests look for infectious organisms such as Giardia
  • measurement of the level of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in the blood – this can indicate whether there is decreased ability to absorb nutrients and a need for supplementation
  • measurement of folate in the blood – this will show whether there is an imbalance in the normal bacterial populations in the gastrointestinal tract.


Can IBD be managed with a vegan diet?

The advised diet for a dog with IBD would be a hypoallergenic diet, plant-based, high fibre diet that contained none of the top allergens in dogs that are beef, dairy, wheat, lamb, egg, chicken, soya, pork, corn, rabbit and fish – in that order.

We began importing Green Crunch from Vegdog in Germany in January 2022 as we met the lovely owner of VegDog in 2019 and absolutely love her product! Please see her words below (translated from german).

My dog Nelson suffered with IBD and the only solution to manage it was a vegan diet

Crossbreed Nelson who died at the good age of 15 years, was a vegan for 7 years as he suffered from so many food intolerances. We had Nelson as an adult rescue from Costa Rica and when we first had him, we made numerous trips to the vets.

The vets were baffled and we tried everything that the market had to offer – hypoallergenic dry and wet foods as well as the recommended full range of exotic meats such as kangaroo meat or ostrich meat with potatoes. Nothing seemed to help him. The digestive problems and pain did not improve. Eventually Nelson’s vet advised us to refrain from any animal protein. Vegan for dogs? I thought it was a joke. “How is this going to work?” “Is it even suitable?” These were only a few of the many questions I had.

My vet was so supportive and gave me a comprehensive balanced homemade recipe to try on Nelson. After 4 weeks, he was symptom free and he remained so for 7 years on his vegan diet and Green Crunch was born! Nelson’s face remains on the logo and packaging of VegDog even though he died over 5 years ago, he remains our inspiration for starting our VegDog company.

What medication is used when your dog suffers from IBD?

Vets may or may not be give medication initially, depending on the particular case. Antibiotics, such as metronidazole (brand name Metrobactin®), may be prescribed for their anti-inflammatory effect on the GI tract. They may also help restore the balance of the normal bacteria found in the GI tract if a bacterial overgrowth is the cause as can occur in raw fed dogs.

This is a worry if used as (Metronidazole or Metrobactin), results in your dog’s good gut bacteria being affected for up to 18 months – it takes 18 months for all those good gut bacteria that are the source of your dog’s health, immunity and vitality to recover with antibiotic treatment and we definitely do not want that!

Pro-kolin proThe best treatment that we recommend for recurrent cases where your dog keeps getting bouts of IBD, is to use a probiotic instead of having to resort to antibiotics. We have sourced online Pro-Kolin for you that we dispense in veterinary practices, as it contains valuable probiotics as well as pectin to help bind the soft faeces.

Another good produce is from Viovet called ReguTum that is possibly a little cheaper than Pro-KolinRegutums

Deworming is recommended as faecal tests are not always representative of the parasites in the gastrointestinal tract (Panacur can be used at a dose of 1 sachet daily for 3 consecutive days).

Supplementation with B12 (cobalamin) should be used and this is found in our JUST BE KIND Supplement as well as pre and probiotics for owners choosing to homecook for their dog. The kindest ingredients to use with dogs with IBD are sweet potato (no skin), quinoa, oats, and if bad diarrhoea and sickness, it is best to feed a soothing vegetable broth made from cooked celery, carrots, green beans and parsley with a bit of added salt.

Other natural anti-inflammatories that we highly advise are added to your dog’s diet when suffering from IBD are pure Omega 3 from Algae oil as shown in our EcoPetMeds page.


Brian the Border Terrier suffered from such severe cramping and pain with constant illness until he transitioned from a raw food to a plant-based diet – it was quite literally life-changing for him and he now loves Solo Vegetal, Greta and Green Crunch!
Listen to his interesting journey here…..

just be kind vegan dogs
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