Inflammatory bowel disease in pets is becoming more and more prevalent.
Both irritable or inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in pets are often associated with leaky gut syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder of intestinal function. The condition occurs in the small intestine, colon, or both. It can be characterized by abdominal discomfort, pain, bloating, mucus in the stools, and irregular bowel habits.
IBS is typically a gut motility problem, either constipation or diarrhea, or an alteration between these two extremes. It may also involve low-grade inflammation that is not detected in evaluations, but plagues the dog (or cat) – termed sub-clinical inflammation.
Both conditions share symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, loose stools or diarrhea and intestinal discomfort and weight loss. IBD (inflammatory Bowel Disease) includes physical changes to the intestinal wall or lining. When the walls of the gut become inflamed, they thicken for protection, then the gut’s defense system is compromised and harmful bacteria and other bad microorganisms can attack. IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome) does include the physical changes of thickening of the gut walls.
What causes inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome?
It is suspected it occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks tissues in the digestive tract. Preservatives in pet food, antibiotics, vaccinations, feeding grains, vegetables, GMOs* in food, as well as problems with the pancreas may all play a role in causing it as well. Stress can be a trigger as well.
Naturopathicly or holisticlly looking at IBS and IBD, even though the symptoms occur in or from the intestines (bowels), IBD and IBS are degenerative diseases that originate in the brain. Recent medical and veterinary studies cite a malfunction in the gut-associated mucosal immune system response due to possible genetic and/or epigenetic factors along with early programming of the anti-inflammatory system as a possible cause for IBD and IBS
I have personally seen many perfectly healthy puppies and/or dogs vaccinated one day and developing chronic digestive problems including IBD and IBS up to a month post vaccination if not sooner.
The Signs of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Your dog or cat has chronic diarrhea
There is mucus and/or blood in the stools
The conventional “therapy”
The conventional treatment or therapy for inflammatory bowel disease is to give medications to stop the symptoms: steroids to suppress the immune system and most often antibiotics to kill bacteria in the gut. Keep in mind that conventional/reductionistic medications simply hide and/or suppress the symptoms; they do not address and/or eliminate the cause!
There is a natural/holistic approach and therapy for inflammatory bowel disease or inflammatory bowel syndrome.
It is all about strengthening and supporting the immune system via the body’s organs, especially the digestive tract and regulatory organs like the pancreas and liver.
- Build up the friendly flora in the gut by adding high quality, naturally sourced probiotics to the diet – green tripe and soil based probiotics. An abundance of friendly bacteria will crowd out the unwanted bacteria and allow for proper digestion of all normal protein molecules a carnivore should be eating.
- In the beginning, one might need to add digestive enzymes to any change in diet. But adding digestive enzymes is only supplementing the symptoms and will leave a lazy pancreas. Ultimately, one wants to supply the pre-enzymes (from medicinal mushrooms, algae or best of all – raw meat) and co-factors the body needs to manufacture its own digestive enzymes.
- Get your dog off the nutrient-deficient dry kibble diet that is unfit for a carnivore. Transition to a premium, freeze-dried raw food and even better, a varied, prey model raw food diet (meat, bones, organs and glands – NO vegetables or carbohydrates; more suited for a carnivore. I have personally seen a complete resolution of IBD symptoms in dogs with just a change to a more appropriate diet.
- Vary the protein in your dog’s diet (poultry, beef, pork, rabbit, etc.) to create diversity in their digestive tract and a balance of nutrients.
- Increase the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis function by feeding super nutrition to the brain. Wolves and wild dogs naturally get “super nutrition in their diet from the water, soil and occassional mushrooms they ingest.
Proper Nutrition is Crucial !
You can give your pets all the natural healing modalities and supplements and even super foods you like however, you need to know that none of them will work to their full capacity to heal and re-build the immune system and gut unless they are used in conjunction with a correct diet.
Proper nutrition/diet is the foundation, the corner stone of wellness. If you are still feeding your beloved pet a processed food meal from a bag or can, then your dog (or cat) is not getting the nutrition it needs to thrive and be healthy and may even be contributing to his IBD.
Processed Pet Food
Without going into all the details of how pet food is made, (you can read more details in the above link) the first part of the process is to “render” the raw meats into a a liquid. This is accomplished by heating the carcasses – normally obtained from a rendering plant, at a minimum temperature of 280 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour.
Now here is where it gets informative! It is not until after the ingredients have been cooked down into a liquid that they can then cook what is left again to dry out the now liquid ingredients and then extrude them (also done at very high temperatures) into the chunks or kibbles called “food”.
Little Known Facts about Cooked or Processed Food
When food is heated at just 110 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 43 degrees Centigrade), two of the 8 essential amino acids, tryptophan and lysine, are destroyed. When cooked at temperatures above 117 degrees F for only three minutes or longer,
*proteins denature and coagulate
*fats generate numerous carcinogens including acrolein, nitrosamines, hydrocarbons, and benzopyrene (one of the most potent cancer-causing agents known)
*natural fibers break down, cellulose is completely changed from its natural condition: it loses its ability to sweep the alimentary canal clean
*50% and more of vitamins and minerals are destroyed
*100% of enzymes are damaged
Remember, the rendering process, alone takes place at a minimum of 280 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes!
The Naturopathic or Holistic Approach
By addresssing the underlying CAUSE of the IBD/IBS, instead of treating the symptoms, if not too much damage has been done, the entire endocrine and immune systems can return to functioning at 100%. This means that all other processes (e.g., digestion, absorption, elimination) can all return to normal and the symptoms should not never return.
Supplements & Natural Remedies
I believe that inflammatory bowel disease also tends to occur in pets when the pancreas has been working harder than it should have to in order to produce enzymes obviously lacking in the processed diet. Giving your dog or cat digestive enzymes made from natural, species specific whole foods, allows the pancreas to not have to work as hard and in turn strengthens it to work far more efficiently as it does. Dr. Jeannie recommends these species appropriately sourced enzymes to her clients
Balance Bacteria with Probiotics
The normal acid balance in the intestines can change when the pancreas is overactive, allowing harmful bacteria to flourish. This, in turn, can cause painful inflammation. Giving your pet a good soil based probiotic will help replenish the supply of beneficial bacteria and aid in getting the intestines back into a natural microbial balance.
Switch to Purified or Spring Water
Municipal water supplies often contain chlorine and fluoride, which can kill helpful/friendly bacteria in the intestines. Giving your pet filtered water, which doesn’t contain chlorine or other chemicals, will help these friendly bacteria in the intestines to thrive.
NOTE: Do not use distilled water on a regular basis at it leaches essential minerals from the body. It is best not give it to your pet at all unless you are doing a supervised detox with your pet.
Strengthen and Protect the Liver
The liver produces large amounts of metabolic enzymes. You can help it work more efficiently by feeding a raw meat, bones and organ diet.
Turmeric, milk thistle and dandelion are all known to be helpful at generating new cells, cleansing and protecting the liver.
Essential oils that support the liver and raise the frequencies in the body to boost the immune system are celery seed, helichrysum, sedum, rosemary and lemon.
Absorb Toxins with Clay
Harmful bacteria in the intestines, including bacteria that come from eating rotten food or undigested processed foods, give off toxins that irritate the gut. You may be able to absorb these toxins and ease the vomiting and diarrhea by giving your pets bentonite or montmorillonite clays. The clays can absorb up to 2,000 times their weight in toxins and contain minerals that enhance the production of enzymes.
Fish oil,(specifically wild salmon oil) which contains the vital omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid EPA, can help break the inflammatory cycle in colitis as it does in rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Some studies have been done that indicate supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can help with intestinal inflammation. Wild salmon oil is the best source of these and has been found beneficial in animals with IBD.
Avoiding stress, and early traumatic experiences in a puppy’s life and feeding a species specific raw diet, thus supplying proper nutrition to developing young bodies is key to avoiding IBD later on in life.
Complete healing of IBS and IBD is possible when using a natural “whole dog” approach.
*Short term studies show GMO food can potentially cause pre-cancerous cell growth in the digestive tract , smaller growth of brains, liver and testicles, partial atrophy of the liver and a damaged immune system. In the only first and only raw feeding study, rats would not eat the Flavor-Saver tomato. When they were force fed GMO tomatoes, 7/20 developed stomach lesions, 7/40 died within two weeks and were replaced in the study. Based on this short term results, from our holistic perspective, we think it would be wise to avoid all GMO food if one (or one’s pet) had any type of digestive disorder.