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The Best Food For Dogs With IBD dogs

The Best Food For Dogs With IBD

I once had a client who was in the running for the best dog mom of the century. She knew every inch of her two dogs and did a ton of research to find the best ways to take care of them.

When one of the dogs developed a finicky appetite, she brought him to see me. Her main goal was to get him to eat more: he had normal blood tests and x-rays, but sometimes he just refused to finish his meals.

After questioning her about the dog’s symptoms, habits, and preferences, it was clear he had a good reason for not eating well. His stomach hurt!

Eventually, we diagnosed him with inflammatory bowel disease. After that, we devised a special diet based on moist, novel protein food.

Over a period of a few weeks, he became happier and more active. His appetite also came back with a vengeance once we found out he needed a diet that didn’t cause inflammation (and pain) in his guts.

What is IBD in Dogs?

IBD stands for inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory cells take up residence in the walls of a dog’s stomach and/or intestines, crowding out the normal cells. Without enough normal cells, digestion and absorption of nutrients suffer.
IBD in Dogs

The exact cause of IBD is not known, but experts believe it’s probably caused by multiple factors. One theory holds that the body mistakenly identifies normal food and bacteria as foreign invaders.

The classic symptoms of IBD in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Finicky or decreased appetite
  • Weight loss.

Diagnosing IBD in Dogs

IBD is not easy to diagnose. Although there are blood tests that may help narrow down the possibilities, the best way to confirm a dog's IBD is with a biopsy of the affected tissue.

Since there is a spectrum of gastrointestinal diseases that can cause similar symptoms, getting the right diagnosis is the fastest way to decide on the best treatment.

Treatment for Dogs with IBD

Luckily, many dogs with mild IBD respond well to dietary therapy alone (Allenspach, Wieland, Grone & Gashchen, 2007).

Dogs with moderate to severe IBD often require antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment before they feel better.

The Best Food for Dogs with IBD

When it comes to IBD in dogs diet recommendations can vary. Each dog with IBD will have different allergens and reactions to certain foods. That being said, there are some basic diet characteristics that veterinarians recommend to help treat IBD in dogs:

  • Minimal Ingredient

Since we don’t know which ingredients dogs with IBD are reacting to, it’s best to choose a food that is free from any fillers, such as peas and potatoes. Preservatives and additives can also cause an immune reaction and should be avoided.

  • Highly digestible, low residue diets 

Some foods are more digestible than others. For most dogs, fiber and fat are more difficult to digest, especially when their GI tract is inflamed. Based on my personal clinical experience, high moisture food is easier for many dogs to digest than dry kibble, too.

  • Novel protein diet

IBD may be an immune system reaction to food. Scientific research tells us proteins from beef, dairy, chicken, and wheat are the most common foods to cause reactions in dogs (Mueller, Olivry, & Prélaud, 2016).

healthy wet dog food made with duck When a dog eats a protein they've never had before, their immune system is not primed to react to it. Choosing foods without the common food allergens is part of a logical approach to finding a food that doesn’t aggravate inflammatory bowel disease in dogs. The best dog food for IBD is going to be a novel protein diet, with a single protein source and no unnecessary fillers.

Novel protein diets may include duck, rabbit, pork, or lamb depending on what the dog has been exposed to in his lifetime.






If you're looking for a novel protein dog food for IBD, KOHA Limited Ingredient Diet recipes are a great place to start. Our entrées have only one meat per recipe, include novel protein options such as duck and lamb dog food, and are all minimal ingredient with no fillers.

Healthy limited ingredient dog food for IBD





Buy KOHA Limited Ingredient Diet for Dogs
Want to help your dog with IBD? KOHA can help. 

Allenspach, K., Wieland, B., Gröne, A., & Gaschen, F. (2007). Chronic enteropathies in dogs: evaluation of risk factors for negative outcome. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 21(4), 700-708.

Mueller, R. S., Olivry, T., & Prélaud, P. (2016). Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. BMC veterinary research, 12(1), 9.