Dogs have a reputation for having ironclad stomachs. These animals will not hesitate to eat garbage, feces, and any other strong-smelling substance they stumble upon.
For the most part, canines can handle a lot. Their guts are highly acidic, allowing them to digest things humans could never process.
However, there are always exceptions to the rule. Like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies, intolerances, and a wide range of digestive troubles. Usually, those digestive problems are temporary and go away after a few days. But what if they don't?
Bowel problems are more common than most dog owners think. They can be debilitating, causing pain anytime your dog eats. In some cases, they impact nutrient absorption and result in other complications.
Irritable Bowl syndrome (IBS), Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), and Colitis are three conditions you can't ignore.
Symptoms can vary, and the exact cause of these issues isn't precisely known. But one thing is for sure: You must take action to ensure your dog is comfortable and healthy. Fortunately, these digestive conditions are manageable with the proper diet.
What Are IBD, IBS, and Colitis?
These digestive complications are unique but have similar symptoms and often connect in some way.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common functional disorder that humans can experience. Biologically, the digestive system looks relatively normal. However, IBS causes diarrhea, constipation, and intense abdominal pain.
The symptoms arise from psychological factors rather than physical changes to the digestive tract. Typically, it occurs when dogs experience mental distress. Many canines will suffer when dealing with anxiety or extreme stress.
Irritable Bowel Disease has many of the same symptoms as IBS. But they're more severe and can cause irreparable harm to your dog's system. In addition to stomach pain and diarrhea, IBD can cause a bloody discharge, excruciating cramps, fever, and more.
With IBD, there are physical abnormalities in the digestive tract. Swelling and mucus buildup are common. Because those abnormalities exist, veterinarians usually take biopsies, collect stool samples, and perform many tests to diagnose the condition.
The potential causes of IBD can vary. There's no exact underlying factor, but veterinary experts believe that parasites, allergies, bacteria, and a weak immune system are to blame.
Finally, there's Colitis.
Colitis occurs when the large intestines become inflamed. Inflammatory cells will line the intestine, impacting nutrient absorption and changing how food flows through the digestive system.
It can cause a wide range of issues, but the most common symptom is persistent diarrhea. Colitis can accompany IBD; both can be chronic or affect a dog intermittently.
If you suspect your dog has any of these conditions, see a vet as soon as possible. Proper diagnosis is the first step in addressing the issue and taking steps to avoid problems in the future.
Related: Dog Has Diarrhea But Acts Fine
Why Your Dog's Diet Matters
There are many ways to treat IBD, IBS, and Colitis. Veterinarians may recommend a cycle of antibiotics. However, those medications only tackle current issues.
The intermittent nature of symptoms requires you to make long-term changes. Vets often work with dog owners to develop a healthy diet that keeps flare-ups at bay.
IBD, IBS, and Colitis all relate to food sensitivities and allergies.
Certain dog food ingredients can exacerbate the problem, causing symptoms far more often than they should. Adjusting your dog's diet can help you manage these conditions and provide the much-needed relief your pup needs.
Many owners of dogs with digestive complications go the homemade route. It's a fantastic alternative to processed commercial foods that gives you more control over what your dog puts into their system.
Sticking with homemade recipes that utilize whole ingredients can be a life-saver that mitigates painful symptoms and puts your dog in good health.
As always, consult your vet before making drastic changes. Their knowledge of your dog's unique case allows them to make recommendations that suit your dog's needs.
What Foods Should You Include in a Homemade Diet for IBD, IBS, and Colitis?
There are a few goals when making your dog's meals. You want to focus on whole ingredients and avoid any food known to cause adverse reactions in your pup's digestive tract. That's where working with your vet comes in handy.
They can help you narrow down those triggers and determine what foods to avoid.
Beyond that, you also need to ensure that you're fulfilling your dog's nutritional needs while providing them with healthy vitamins and minerals that combat the effects of IBD, IBS, and Colitis.
Here are some staples you'll use when creating homemade meals.
Protein is the most critical thing in a dog's diet. That doesn't change with a digestive condition. Real animal meat should make up most of the meals you create.
The problem with commercial foods is that they often use fillers that cause allergic reactions. By going homemade, you can avoid those and stick to high-quality proteins like chicken, beef, fish, and more.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables serve as valuable sources of vitamins and minerals. They help to boost your dog's immune system, helping their bodies fight the effects of IBD, IBD, and Colitis. Antioxidant-rich fruits can also provide antioxidants that support the body in other ways.
Vets often guide dog owners to add a source of fiber. Fortunately, you can do that with fruits and vegetables. Ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, and more do double duty.
In addition to providing nutrients, the cellulose in those fruits absorbs liquids and helps promote stool regularity.
Related: 5 Best High-Fiber Dog Foods
Probiotics can maintain the delicate microbiome in your dog's gut. Healthy bacteria help fight the effects of dangerous pathogens and strengthen their system's ability to process foods effectively.
Probiotic supplements can also improve immunity and minimize allergic reactions.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids from ingredients like fish oil do wonders. They improve cardiovascular health, keep the coat smooth, and more. However, for dogs with IBD, IBS, and Colitis, the fatty acids are anti-inflammatory agents to keep swelling under control.
2 Homemade Food Recipes for Dogs with IBD, IBS, and Colitis
Every dog responds to foods differently, so it's wise to work with your vet when developing recipes. But we have two easy-to-adjust recipes to get you started.
Recipe #1 - Chicken, Brocolli, and Sweet Potato Bowl
Here's a simple recipe that uses whole ingredients and no unnecessary additives. It's easy to make, and you can easily prepare a few days of meals in advance.
- 1 pound of boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- 1 pounds of sweet potatoes
- 3 ounces of chicken liver
- Half a pound of broccoli stalks
- Half a can of unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt
- 2 empty eggshells
In addition to those ingredients, your vet might request that you add drops of vitamin oil or probiotics. Adjust accordingly to meet your dog's needs.
Preparing this meal is a breeze. Start by cooking the chicken in a skillet over medium heat. Leave out any extra oil or butter you would typically use.
As the chicken cooks, boil or microwave the sweet potatoes and allow them to cool. To cook the broccoli stalks, steam or boil them until they are soft to the touch.
After your sweet potatoes and chicken cool down, cut them into bite-sized chunks. You can leave the skin on the potatoes as an added source of fiber.
Now, mix all the ingredients. Crush the eggshells and ensure that all components are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Recipe #2 - Chicken, Rice, and Bean Mash
This recipe is also very adaptable. It's easy to make, and you can fine-tune the formula with any supplements your vet recommends. You can also adjust the amount of rice and beans to create portions that work for your dog.
This is a great recipe to make in advance. It holds well in the fridge, allowing you to make big weekly batches.
- 4 ounces of boneless and skinless chicken breasts
- 1 and a half cups of rice
- 2 cups of drained red kidney beans
- 1 teaspoon of iodized salt
- 2 and a half teaspoons of bone meal powder
- 2 tablespoons of fish, flaxseed, or canola oil
Start by cooking your chicken. You can cook it in a skillet or boil it in a large pot. Either way, don't use seasoning or oil. As your chicken cooks, prepare your rice in a standalone cooker or on your stove.
Both white and brown rice works well. Drain your kidney beans and give them a good wash to remove any salty broth. When everything cools down, you're ready to assemble.
Shred the chicken breasts before adding everything to a bowl. Mix the larger ingredients before adding salt, bone meal, and oil. Once everything is mixed well, it's ready to eat.
IBD, IBS, and Colitis don't have to control your dog's life. These recipes can help you manage these digestive conditions and restore your dog's health.
You'll notice improvements quickly, and your dog should have fewer stomach upsets.
While creating homemade meals is a significant time investment, giving your dog nutritional and delicious meals that cater to its unique health needs is worth it.