Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects the digestive tracts of both dogs and cats. Although the causes of IBD are not well known, they are suspected to be the result of a variety of diseases that create an accumulation of inflammatory cells within the lining of the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. This may be the body’s abnormal response to certain intestinal bacterial or dietary proteins. IBD is usually classified according to the types of inflammatory cells present and location affected.

Symptoms of IBD vary with the severity of the disease and the affected location within the digestive tract. Chronic vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or a combination these problems can result from IBD involving the small intestine. Pets with large intestinal IBD (chronic colitis) often present with diarrhea often accompanied with blood and mucous, straining to defecate, increased urgency to defecate, and occasionally vomiting.

Whenever your pet is showing signs of a health issue your first step is to contact your primary care veterinarian. If it is indicated that your pet may suffer from IBD or another serious condition, a veterinary specialist is available at an ExpertVet certified hospital.


Lymphoplasmacytic enteritis, the most common type of IBD, is caused by an excessive accumulation of two types of white blood cells – lymphocytes and plasma cells – in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Very severe cases result in excessive protein loss from the blood stream into the intestines, known as a protein-losing enteropathy. If inflammation is persistent and remains untreated, scar tissue (fibrosis) can result, irreversibly damaging the intestines.

Lymphangiectasia, an obstructive disorder involving the lymphatic system of the intestinal tract, may develop secondary to severe IBD, and when present, the prognosis is a great deal poorer as compared to cases that are lymphangiectasia-free.

Primary lymphangiectasia is not an inflammatory disease, but the symptoms may be very similar to one. The underlying cause is rarely found. Secondary lymphangiectasia may develop in severe IBD. Small to medium breeds of dogs may initially respond fairly well to dietary and medical therapy. Large breeds of dogs, however, often do not respond well to dietary and medical therapy. In either case the long-term prognosis is frequently very poor.