You’ve probably heard of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but you may not know the difference. In fact, you may even think Irritable Bowel Syndrome is something that just happens in humans as opposed to our four-legged friends. As it turns out, cats and dogs do suffer from both Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It’s easy to think they’re the same issue, but they are different.
Most of the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome are similar, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. While dogs with IBS tend to have milder symptoms less often, it’s very hard to distinguish between the two without some type of testing. One general difference is that pets with IBD often lose weight and may feel the urge to go to the bathroom more often than normal but produce less stool each time.
Some of the main causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are:
- Food Sensitivity
- Low Fiber Diet
To diagnose Irritable Bowel Syndrome, your vet will ask you about your pet’s history. Do the stomach issues only happen after a stressful incident, such as a trip to the doctor’s office or a bad storm? Your doctor will also want to discuss your pet’s food and snacks and will probably need a fecal sample to rule out other underlying causes, such as worms. Once a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is obtained, your vet may prescribe antispasmodic medicine or recommend a change in diet for your dog or cat.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is more serious than IBS. The cause generally can’t be determined, but diet or infection may play a role. There are various types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, but the key component is the presence of inflammation. In people, we sometimes know IBD better by other names, such as gastritis or colitis. The specific diagnosis depends on the type of inflammation noted and where it’s located.
While many tests can be run to try to determine the causes of a pet’s gastrointestinal issues, Inflammatory Bowel Disease is ultimately diagnosed by a biopsy that shows the presence of inflammatory cells. The types of cells discovered let the doctor choose the path of treatment, which may include a change in diet or a variety of medicines, such as antibiotics, probiotics, corticosteroids, and others. Inflammatory Bowel Disease cannot be cured, so the goal is to be able to control or minimize the symptoms.
If your dog or cat shows symptoms of IBS or IBD, the first step is a trip to the vet. It’s possible the cause is something else completely, such as worms or giardia, but your vet can begin testing and make sure that your cat or dog gets the proper treatment.