Prescription Foods for Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease

by Catherine Troiano
    Switching to a novel protein diet can relieve his symptoms.

    Switching to a novel protein diet can relieve his symptoms.

    Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

    If gastrointestinal upset has become a regular occurrence for your dog and your veterinarian suspects that your dog’s diarrhea or vomiting is a symptom of inflammatory bowel disease, he may recommend a prescription diet to manage your furry friend’s condition. There are several variations of prescription diets that are formulated to target the potential allergens that could be setting off your dog’s inflammatory response.

    Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    Inflammatory bowel disease results when your dog’s immune system overreacts to combat perceived foreign substances in his gastrointestinal tract. As this occurs over time, the inflammatory cells accumulate in the bowel wall, thickening the lining and disrupting the proper digestive process. This reduces the amount of nutrients that your dog absorbs from his food, and the inflamed tissues incite such symptoms as diarrhea, cramping, vomiting and weight loss. One of the common causes of inflammatory bowel disease is a food allergy. Food allergies can present symptoms of itchy skin. It is most often a protein source that sets off food allergies, but carbohydrate sources and food additives can set off your pet’s system. Some common culprits of food allergies in dogs include beef, pork, dairy, corn, wheat, preservatives and dyes.

    New On Your Dog’s Menu

    Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can be minimized with dietary changes and short-term drug therapy. Some dogs can be managed with their new diet alone. Many prescription diets used to control inflammatory bowel disease contain a protein source that your dog likely has never consumed before. Hill’s Pet Nutrition has produced a line of these novel protein foods designed to address skin and food allergies. This Hill’s diet is called d/d, and each formula contains a single novel protein source, such as venison or duck, and a single carbohydrate source, such as potato. Another Hill’s diet is called z/d, which contains hydrolyzed protein and easily digestible carbohydrates to minimize food reaction. Hydrolyzed proteins are proteins that have been broken down into tiny segments to prevent immune stimulation. Royal Canin USA also has produced a veterinary prescription line of similar novel and hydrolyzed protein formulations.

    Firm Up with Fiber

    Some lucky dogs whose symptoms are limited to large-intestinal diarrhea may find relief through diets that are high in fiber and low in fat. These prescription formulas include Hill’s r/d and OM from Purina Veterinary Diets. Some veterinarians who opt to feed one of the novel protein or hydrolyzed protein diets may recommend increasing the fiber content by adding a fiber supplement. If you prefer to prepare your dog’s meals from scratch, ask your veterinarian to recommend a recipe that will help to alleviate the symptoms while providing the nutrients that your canine companion needs.

    Feeding Trials and Veterinarian Communication

    There is no cure for inflammatory bowel disease. The goal of treatment is to minimize the symptoms. Whichever food your veterinarian prescribes, it is imperative to feed only that food to your dog for several weeks. During this time, do not give your canine companion any treats or tidbits from your dinner. This is known as the trial period, and these strict guidelines are the only way to determine with certainty that the new food is working. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions exactly to ensure accurate results from the feeding trial. Remember that there are several pet food companies that offer their own formulas of these prescription diets. If your dog turns his nose up and refuses the first food, talk to your veterinarian about another comparable option that your canine companion may find more to his liking.

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    About the Author

    Based on Long Island, Catherine Troiano has been writing pet articles since 2011. She worked for more than 10 years as a veterinary technician and served as the cattery manager at a local shelter. Her articles have been published on various websites. She also maintains her own website about Long Island and is currently working on a children's novel.

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