How to Choose the Best Dog Food for IBD
Inflammatory bowel disease, a condition commonly referred to by the acronym IBD, is an ongoing health issue that causes swelling of the delicate tissues of the gastrointestinal tract and stomach. As a result of this condition, dogs with IBD experience poor digestion and an inability to properly utilize and absorb the nutrition contained in their food.
To date, it is not known what factors must combine for a dog to succumb to IBD. Many veterinary professionals believe it is not one root cause but likely the result of multiple different issues which lead to the development of the condition. Some of the issues veterinarians believe may be to blame for the development of IBD in dogs include:
- Food sensitivities
- Poor reactions to medications and/or drugs
Dogs suffering from IBD exhibit several different symptoms. Among the most commonly seen problems are vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, poor appetite, and weight loss. Unfortunately, since these symptoms can be indicative of many different health conditions that plague dogs, it is extremely difficult to diagnose IBD. The recommended course to determine the reason behind the symptoms is a blood test accompanied with a biopsy of the inflamed tissue from the stomach or intestines.
Diet plays a critical role in helping to alleviate the discomfort from the symptoms associated with IBD. However, some dogs do not experience the relief they need from a dietary change alone and require antibiotic treatment or anti-inflammatory medications for improvement to occur.
For dogs that only experience the symptoms of IBD occasionally, feeding bland meals such as boiled chicken combined with white rice is an excellent course of action to solve the problem. However, for dogs with recurring bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, a permanent nutritional change coupled with veterinary treatment may be required.
The best dog foods for IBD remain free from the allergens which have been commonly identified with gastrointestinal distress in dogs including corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Dog Foods that Help Relieve IBD
Correct portion sizes are important to helping dogs achieve and maintain a healthy weight. To help determine the proper meal size for a dog, it is an excellent idea to use the suggested serving size listed on the bag as a starting point. Since each dog’s nutritional requirements will vary according to its breed, age, weight, and activity level, this basic amount can be adjusted until the right portion has been determined.
The dog’s weight and appetite will serve as helpful guides in determining the correct amount.
As a general rule of thumb, the best dog foods for IBD for mature dogs should contain a minimum of 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat. Puppy foods to address this condition must be comprised of 22 percent protein and 8 percent fat with slightly higher amounts also acceptable.
Dietary Requirements for Dog Foods that Help Relieve IBD
There are certain criteria owners should look for in the best dog foods for IBD. One of the key components is a diet that contains the least amount of additives and preservatives. Artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives are common allergens known to cause stomach distress in many dogs. For this reason, foods containing them are best avoided.
Since dogs suffering from IBD often have poor digestion, ingredients that are easy to process and utilize effectively are key to helping combat the effects of the disease. Foods that possess high moisture content but that contain only moderate amounts of fiber are best to help calm an irritated digestive system.
Any high quality diet should list a meat-based protein as its first ingredient. Since some dogs with symptoms of IBD are sensitive to certain types of proteins, novel meats such as kangaroo, venison, whitefish, salmon, and rabbit are highly desirable. Beef, dairy products, and wheat have been known to cause adverse immune responses, meaning they are best avoided for dogs with IBD.
Though meat meals are perfectly acceptable, by-products and plant-based proteins such as soy, corn, and wheat should be avoided as they have been associated with triggering a poor immune response.
Carbohydrates in a diet to address IBD must be limited to whole grains, fruits, or vegetables that are easy to digest. Moderate amounts of fiber are recommended, and antioxidant-rich ingredients are preferred to help boost the dog’s immune system.
Healthy oils play an important part in coat and skin health as well as keeping the body functioning optimally. These are best derived from animal sources such as chicken fat or oily fish.
Supplements can make a large difference in alleviating the symptoms of IBD in dogs. Prebiotics and probiotics help dogs to establish the healthy gut flora they need to ease stomach discomfort and promote fluid digestive processes. Digestive enzymes are also an excellent idea to help dogs break down their food for ease of absorption.
Things to Look for in the Best Dog Food for IBD
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in a dog food for IBD:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list
- Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
- Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
- Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
- Contains healthy amounts of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support coat and skin health