This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

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Inflammatory bowel diseases (or IBD as they are often known) are a group of conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract in which examination of tissue biopsies shows evidence of inflammation of the lamina propria layer of the intestine. They result in persistent clinical signs such as vomiting,
diarrhoea and weight loss and, despite intense research, the cause is not known.

These disorders can affect the small intestine (commonest in cats) or the large intestine (commonest in dogs).

Unknown, however hypersensitivity to antigens in the lumen of the intestine is thought to play an important role in the development of the disease.

Proposed causes are :

Immune disorders - Several possibilities have been suggested. The low concentrations of IgA reported in the intestine of German Shepherd Dogs may be a factor leading to reduced local immunity allowing antigens to cross the mucosal barrier of the intestine , and there setting up an inflammatory response in the lamina priopria.

Drugs - prostaglandin synthetase inhibitors (cincophen and indomethacin) , non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and cholinergic agents have all be implicated as possibly causing inflammatory bowel disease.

Diet - some of the suggested possibilities for dietary influence are:

  1. food additives e.g. carrageenan, sulfated amylopectins and lignosulfonates can cause colitis in studies.
  2. dietary antigens - based on response to changes in diet. Likely but not proven.
  3. dietary deficiencies - vitamin A, folic acid, pantothenic acid - cause colitis in studies.

Infectious agents - infectious agents have been found in affected animals, but no direct link has yet been proven.

Other suggested causes: parasites, increased bowel permeability, ischaemia, biochemical and psychological causes.

Breed Occurrence
Some breeds develop specific form of inflammatory bowel disease (the
Basenji and Ludenhound whereas others are predisposed to more than one type of inflammatory bowel disease - notably Boxers and German Shepherd Dogs. Boxers and the French Bulldog are the only breeds in which histiocytic colitis have been reported.

It is a common occurrence in cats.and forms part of the Triad syndrome (IBD with pancreatitis and cholangiohepatitis)

In cats and dogs the signs that are seen in IBD are those typically associated with gastrointestinal diseases ie vomiting, diarrhoea, inappetance, weight loss, excessive gas production, increased gut noises (borborygmus), abdominal pain, fresh blood in stools, increased frequency of defaecation and mucous covered stools.

Fatty liver is a fairly common complication of IBD resulting in increased concentrations of serum liver enzymes (ALT and SAP).