How to deal with your dog’s IBS

How to deal with your dog’s IBS

Get your dog’s IBS under control

Getting your dog’s IBS under control can take some time. Symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can be like the symptoms of IBD (Inflammatory bowel disease). Both cause diarrhoea or constipation, abdominal bloating & pain and possible vomiting.

The difference is IBS tends to be intermittent and will flare up then go away and IBD is a chronic condition and will be something that you are managing daily. IBD is the next stage of IBS.


The diagnosis of IBS should be made after a series of other conditions have been tested for and ruled out. You vet is likely to check for:

  •               Worms
  •               Tumours
  •               Bacterial infections
  •               Colitis

The GI tract is a major part of your dog’s immune system so it’s important to get your dog’s IBS under control as poor digestion and GI inflammation can lead to other secondary infections. They are also going to be suffering from nutritional deficiencies as much of what they eat isn’t going to be absorbed in the normal way.

It’s very frustrating and heart wrenching to watch your dog struggling with IBS, knowing they feel wretched and under the weather. Trying to find something to feed them that isn’t going to end in a bout of stinging diarrhoea.

Bland diet

The first thing your vet may suggest is getting your dog’s IBS under control by feeding a bland diet. When Mika suffers a bout, we go with boiled, minced turkey and pumpkin. Make sure this is pure pumpkin and not the sweetened pie filler. In the UK the only place I have found tinned pumpkin all year round is Waitrose. If you can’t serve pumpkin, then try sweet potatoes instead. Not all dogs can tolerate pumpkin and, in some cases, it can have the opposite effect.

Some people suggest chicken and rice, but white chicken meat can be the cause of inflammation as it is high in Omega 6. If you are feeding a lot of chicken balance it with some white fish. Rice is indigestible for dogs and can add to leaky gut issues.

Probiotic can help your dog’s IBS

Add a good probiotic to the diet. The GI tract is lined with good bacteria that aids digestion and keeps the tract healthy. When your dog’s gut has become inflamed the good bacteria can be missing leaving the gut undernourished and unprotected from invading toxins.

According to ‘Probiotics for dogs’ 80% of your dog’s immune function relies on a healthy gut.

A probiotic will help the gut replace the flora and re-balance the micro biome. You can buy probiotics for dogs online or your vets as a past or powder.

Adding a good probiotic daily will help reduce flare-ups. Don’t feed human probiotics to your dog.

Novel Protein

A novel protein is a meat that your dog hasn’t eaten before, therefore is unlikely to cause intolerances and cause a flare up of your dog’s IBS.

We have introduced pork into Mika’s diet and tend to stay away from chicken and keep beef to minimum.

You don’t often see pork as a dog food, not because there’s any reason they can’t eat pork, it’s just more expensive then chicken or beef.

Other novel proteins could be rabbit, ostrich or you could go for fish. But if you are feeding salmon, never feed it raw to your dog.

Home cooking

Chances are if your dog has IBS or IBD then you may end up home cooking. If this is the path you choose it is essential that the diet is balanced. A balanced diet will contain a range of proteins from different meat and include muscle meat (heart), organ meat, (liver and kidney, only 10% of daily intake should be liver) fish (oily and white) and eggs, some cooked vegetables and will certainly need additional calcium, fish oil and brewer’s yeast added in daily to their food. Research it thoroughly from good source.

Never assume that if something is good for a person it will be equally good for your dog. This is not the case as dogs process foods very differently to humans. ‘It works for us so it must work for my dog’ is the error made by people who are feeding vegetarian diets to dogs. If you are feeding a vegetarian diet to your dog, then stop it and feed them a species appropriate diet. Dogs are carnivores and need to eat meat to stay healthy. Soy is not a replacement protein for meat and is not good for dogs at all.

Fibre

Introduce a fibre into is diet. We have had a lot of success with Psyllium husk powder. You can get it from the Grape Tree in the UK and anywhere online. It has the added advantage of bulking up stools as well so can help with anal glands. Dogs who have a history of soft stools and diarrhoea may well end up with anal gland issues as well.


You can also try adding ground dark leafy vegetables, but make sure they are cooked. Veggies shouldn’t be more than 20% of your dog’s daily intake. We only add 10% as more will upset Mika’s stomach. You may have to experiment with this to get it right for your chihuahua.

You can also add ACV (apple cider vinegar) daily to their food but introduce it gradually. You can read more about feeding ACV in this article.

Eliminate stress

There are lots of reasons why your chihuahua may be experiencing stress. It’s not always obvious as the signs of stress are not always obvious to us.

Stress can be caused by lack of exercise, boredom, separation anxiety, too much noise, poor training choices like pet correctors, E-collars, shouting, tin rattling and other adverses training methods. I can understand why people use them as chihuahuas can be frustratingly barky. But these training methods will most defiantly be causing your dog stress. You can find out more about how to train your chihuahua not to bark so much here.

You may also find a bout of IBS flares up during firework season, house moves and any major disruptions.

Raw diet

You must acknowledge the contribution that feeding a raw diet has made to dog health. I don’t feed it personally as mine won’t eat it. And, although I have no evidence for this next statement, I would worry about feeding raw food to a dog with a compromised immune function. Also consider shop brought raw food like any dog food you might buy and check the ingredients. A poorly balanced raw diet is just as bad as a poorly balanced tinned food.

CBD oil

There seems to be a buzz around the use of CBD oil for dogs. We have used it successfully with our dogs from time to time. Some research does suggest that CBD oil is proving useful when treating IBS and IBD. You can read more about CBD oil for dogs here.

Managing your dog’s IBS will be a matter of trial and error. Finding a meal system that works for them and keeps them healthy. Be mindful that during a flare up your dog will already not be absorbing all the nutrients from his daily food intake. Don’t compound this by feeding a badly balanced diet.

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