If your dog's tummy is severely irritated, your veterinarian's diagnosis may be chronic colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, lymphocytic-plasmacytic inflammatory bowel disease, granulomatous enteritis, spastic bowel syndrome, or regional enteritis. The most common "catch-all" name, however, is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), for which your vet may suggest the corticosteroid budesonide.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBD is an inflammation of the lining of the intestine, causing food to move through it faster. Over time, as the intestine becomes irritated and the lining thickens and becomes inflamed, blood and tissue cells accumulate, and rather than fighting bacteria and other invaders, they cause the intestines to bleed and allow unhealthy organisms to multiply and push out healthy organisms. Consequently, your dog has trouble absorbing nutrients from his food and becomes physically sick.
A dog with IBD may vomit more frequently or lose his appetite, and you may notice him straining to defecate. The stool may be loose, watery and frequent, and/or sticky with mucus. If the lower intestine is inflamed, you may observe bright blood. Other symptoms include weight loss, or pica, which is when dogs eat or chew on unusual, non-food items. Flatulence and a dull hair coat with a heavy shed may also be observed.
Treatment With Budesonide
If your vet has diagnosed IBD in your dog, which typically requires eliminating a variety of other possible diagnoses, such as parasites or pancreatic or liver problems, she may prescribe the corticosteroid budesonide, which helps reduce inflammation. In the past, prednisone has been a common choice for IBD, but it has many serious side effects. Budesonide is a newer corticosteroid that is also used to treat Crohn's disease in people and has fewer side effects than other steroids.
Drug Side Effects, Cautions & Interactions
Because of fewer side effects, budesonide can typically be given for a longer duration. However, budesonide does have some minimal side effects that can present problems, such as an excessive production of urine, increased appetite and changes in hair coat. Dogs with liver problems, intestinal ulcerations, diabetes or cataracts, or those about to undergo surgery should use budesonide with caution. Since there are possible interactions with other drugs, always consult your veterinarian for safe usage.
Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.