IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a serious gastrointestinal disorder in dogs. It often requires a special diet. Here is some information about the best dog food for IBS.
Irritable bowel syndrome
The causes of IBS are often unclear. It can be hard to get a definite diagnosis until many other possible causes of the symptoms are ruled out. Suspected causes include food intolerances, perhaps because of allergies, though this is not always the case; lack of enough fiber in the diet; and in many cases, mental distress or nervousness.
Whatever the causes, IBS usually results in gastrointestinal discomfort for the dog, along with chronic inflammation. However, it is not associated with any other diseases of the stomach or intestines.
Symptoms generally include the following:
- Chronic diarrhea from the large bowel
- Small amounts of feces and mucus are often passed
Dogs can also experience pain in their abdomen, nausea, vomiting, and bloating.
IBS is similar to IBD, or irritable bowel disorder, but there is a difference. Irritable bowel disorder has physical causes while IBS is usually brought on by stress and anxiety. If your dog does have IBS you will need to try to identify the factors that are upsetting to your dog and work to change them. Your dog’s symptoms may clear up but reappear when something upsets him so you will need to manage his environment and keep him as stress-free as possible.
Diet for IBS
Along with treatment from your vet, you will need to feed your dog a diet tailored for his irritable bowel syndrome. The best diet for this condition is one that is easy for your dog to digest and high in fiber to try to restore your dog’s gastrointestinal system to normalcy. If your dog has any food allergies or intolerances, you will also need to be careful to avoid dog foods that contain those ingredients. Food intolerances usually show themselves in vomiting and diarrhea while food allergies can result in redness, itching, scratching, and other allergy symptoms but they both indicate a reaction to something in the dog’s food.
You should look for a premium quality, holistic or natural dog food. A high quality dog food will be less likely to contain ingredients that might irritate your dog’s stomach and bowels.
Dog foods containing fish, chicken, turkey, and potatoes are recommended for IBS, along with other bland foods that will allow the intestines to heal without irritation. Avoid foods that could cause irritation or inflame your dog’s gut such as red meats and pork, or dark chicken meat; dairy products; corn; breads; artificial coloring or flavors. You should also avoid giving your dog foods that are high in fats. Egg whites are fine but no egg yolks which are fatty.
Dog foods with limited ingredients such as one protein and one carbohydrate are sometimes helpful. Grain-free foods do not seem to be especially helpful. They are just as likely to irritate a dog’s gastrointestinal tract as other foods.
Best dog foods for IBS
There are some good dog foods for dogs with IBS, as long as your dog does not have allergies or food intolerances to any ingredients in the food: The following foods are either made for dogs with gastrointestinal conditions, including IBS, or they have been used successfully by owners with IBS dogs.
- Wellness Simple Solutions Duck & Rice
- Hills Prescription Diet w/d Canine Low Fat-Diabetic-Gastrointestinal with Chicken
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diets Gastrointestinal
- Purina Veterinary EN Gastroenteric Canine Formula
- Natural Balance LID Potato and Duck
- Pure Vita Bison
Some people also choose to cook a homemade diet for their dog, under the supervision of their veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist. If your dog does have allergies or food intolerances it may be difficult to find commercial foods to feed him. In that case, talk to your vet if you are willing to prepare your dog’s food to make sure his diet is balanced and nutritionally complete.
If you begin to notice that your dog is showing symptoms of IBS, see your veterinarian. It is important to rule out other possible causes of vomiting and diarrhea such as whipworms and giardia. If your dog does have IBS you can help your dog manage the problem by choosing the best food for IBS and keeping his stress levels low.