Vet warns pet owners of human illness dogs can suffer from - symptoms and signs

Female vet examining sick and sad Rhodesian ridgeback dog
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Dog owners are being alerted to signs that their pets may be suffering from a condition typically associated with humans.

ITV's This Morning resident vet, Dr Scott Miller, is highlighting the common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in dogs. IBS is a familiar discomfort for many, with approximately 15% of the population grappling with this chronic condition. However, it's not just humans who can suffer - dogs can too.

In collaboration with Barking Heads, Dr Scott Miller has indicated that a loss of appetite could be one symptom of IBS in dogs. He further elaborates on other symptoms to watch out for and suggests remedies for dogs dealing with this commonly human ailment.

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What is IBS in dogs?

Similar to humans, IBS in dogs affects their digestive system, leading to an upset stomach. While it's not a common issue in dogs, any dog can potentially be affected, reports Wales Online.

The breed, sex, or age of your dog doesn't alter the likelihood of them developing IBS, meaning a small breed puppy has the same chances of experiencing an IBS episode as a large breed senior dog. In dogs afflicted with irritable bowel syndrome, it can result in diarrhoea, constipation, and vomiting due to irregular functioning of their intestinal muscles.

What triggers irritable bowel syndrome in dogs?

There isn't a single definitive cause for irritable bowel syndrome in dogs, as it can be triggered by genetics or environmental factors such as stress or food allergies. Therefore, ensuring your dog receives proper nutrition is crucial for their overall health.

A dog's IBS can also be set off by bacterial infections or irritation in the bowel from obstructions in the intestines. To pinpoint the cause, it's crucial to schedule an appointment with your vet.

What are the signs of IBS in dogs?

In terms of symptoms, you may observe physical and behavioural alterations that could indicate your dog is suffering. However, not all these symptoms are unique to IBS, making it more challenging for a vet to confirm if your dog has this condition.

Top 10 IBS symptoms in dogs

  • Diarrhoea

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal pain

  • Vomiting

  • Flatulence

  • Loss of appetite

  • Dehydration

  • Weight loss

  • Poor coat quality

Behavioural changes you might notice when a dog is afflicted with irritable bowel syndrome include your dog appearing more emotionally sensitive than usual, having less energy, and wanting to rest more than normal.

How is IBS diagnosed in dogs?

IBS shares many symptoms with other health conditions dogs may experience, so your vet would diagnose them through a process of elimination. This involves your vet testing for other illnesses to rule those out before diagnosing IBS.

They will likely carry out blood tests and examine faecal matter to check for bacterial infections in the intestinal tract that could be upsetting your dog's stomach.

How is IBS treated in dogs?

Similar to humans, canine IBS can remain inactive until it's triggered and flares up, meaning treatment may be a continuous process. Your vet may prescribe your dog antispasmodic medications, which can alleviate their abdominal pain and discomfort.

Anti-diarrhoea medication may be prescribed to help firm up their stool, but a change in diet and a switch to high-fibre dog food might also be recommended. This would not only solidify their stool but also provide them with the necessary nutrition they need to be a healthy, content pup.

Your vet might advise against feeding them rich foods such as leftovers from your plate - to allow the medication and dog food they're on to take effect, as these richer foods could further irritate their bowels.

What if it's not IBS?

IBS can often be confused with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in dogs as it is also a condition that affects a dog's intestines.

In dogs, IBD can be triggered by an infection in the gut or a food allergy. It shares some of the same symptoms as IBS, like vomiting and chronic diarrhoea, but it is tested for differently than IBS, as vets look for inflammatory cells through biopsies.

The key difference between IBS and IBD is that IBS is primarily caused by stress related to a dog's environment or anxiety, whereas IBD has mainly physical causes that a vet can identify. If you suspect your dog is suffering from either, ensure to take them to the vet for a diagnosis.

Just bear in mind that not all instances of doggy diarrhoea are a case of IBS as poo happens, and there can be many factors involved, but if you notice the other symptoms at home, make sure to schedule a visit to the vet and comfort your pet.