Inflammatory bowel disease is the term for a set of gastrointestinal disorders that typically strike middle-aged and older dogs. While the causes are unknown, the effects are usually obvious. Vomiting, diarrhea, gas, loss of appetite and noisy gut are common symptoms. And an important part of treatment is a proper diet, often one you can make yourself.
Diet vs. Medicine
IBD cannot be cured and is often treated with antibiotics or other medicines designed to stop the gastrointestinal immune system from overproducing antigens. Most vets, however, prefer to manage the condition through diet and may prescribe a commercially made food or give you recipes to home-cook your dog's food. Each dog is different and some will require a specific diet with only a few ingredients. Consult your vet before feeding your dog any homemade meals designed to manage his IBD.
A Proper Balance
Cooked meals for dogs suffering from IBD need to contain a good mix of proteins, fats and fiber. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and flaxseed oil, may help decrease intestinal inflammation and thus ease symptoms. Fresh meat or dairy protein sources, such as cheese, rabbit, venison and duck contain proteins that are broken down into more digestible nutrients.
Fiber and Fat
While some dogs with IBD do better when they eat more fiber, others do better when fiber is reduced. Vets often recommend fiber supplementation when IBD affects the colon, as fiber improves stool consistency and reduces the growth of harmful bacteria in the colon. Typically, high fiber foods, such as vegetables, are lower in fat. While fiber can trigger more bowel movements, the lower fat content from higher fiber diets often reduces diarrhea in dogs with IBD.
No People Treats
An important part of treatment for your dog's IBD is keeping her away from people food. That means no table scraps, no bites of your sandwich and no feeding her bits of food that happen to fall on the floor. Also, avoid giving her most commercial dog treats, such as biscuits, which can be full of fillers and ingredients that will aggravate her stomach. Natural chew toys, or rawhides, also are out, as she likely will swallow pieces that flake off while she chews.