Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Holistic Protocol for Dogs and Cats has been developed by a certified Master Herbalist and certified Canine Nutritionist with The Pet Health and Nutrition Center. Our IBD Protocol is the finest coordination of science and research-based recommendations that include diet, supplementation and herbal remedies to help support your dog or cat with inflammatory bowel disease. Everyone here at The Pet Health and Nutrition Center truly cares and wants to help your pet get better, so give our suggestions a try because we are confident you will be pleased with the results.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs & Cats Natural Treatment

1. What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs and Cats?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a general term for a group of chronic inflammatory disorders found in dogs and cats that share many common features. IBD may be referred to as Crohn's Disease or Colitis, both of which have similar causes and symptoms. The primary difference is that Crohn's disease can occur anywhere in the digestive tract, and even affect the skin, eyes and joints, but primarily occurs in your dog or cat's ileum (the last portion of the small intestine). Colitis on the other hand is primarily limited to the lining of a dog or cat's colon (large intestine). In canines and felines with IBD, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria or other materials in the GI tract for foreign substances and responds by sending white blood cells into the lining of the bowels. The result of the immune system’s attack is chronic inflammation.

2. Causes and Symptoms of IBD in Dogs and Cats

What are the Causes of IBD in Canines and Felines?

There are a number of possible causes of your dog or cat's Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The more common causes are listed below.

  • Genetic Predisposition
    Studies have produced several factors that lead many to believe there is a genetic component to Inflammatory Bowel Disease and in a relatively high percentage of cases multiple family members can share this condition.

Dietary Factors
    The majority of processed pet foods contain highly refined and low-fiber ingredients like corn, potatoes and various flours. These often poor quality ingredients have been shown to facilitate the condition of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in our dogs and cats. Very often ingredients such as tomato pomace or beet pulp are added to pet foods as a source of fiber, however, being by-products (or waste products) of the human food industry, they generally make poor additions to pet foods. In the wild our canines and felines would consume fur, providing ample fiber, and bone, providing bulk, to create normal stools and prevent diarrhea. Ingredients such as ground bone are found in commercially available raw foods and help to create healthy stools and naturally express anal glands.


Additionally, processed pet foods contain so many often low-quality ingredients along with flavors, colors and other synthetic ingredients that it can be quite hard to tell which ingredient(s) may be contributing to your dog or cat’s Inflammatory Bowel issues. For example, chelated proteinate minerals found in most pet foods are marketed as being more easily absorbed. Unfortunately, Nature’s Logic, a natural pet food manufacturer, being able to review ingredient data from companies that produce proteinate minerals for the pet product industry discovered some interesting information. First off, all the trace mineral salts used to make metal proteinates (like copper proteinate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, calcium proteinate, etc) are synthetic substances.

    In addition, without exception, all the proteinates they reviewed used hydrolyzed soy as the protein molecule. The hydrolyzation process also converts protein to MSG. So, in virtually every commercially available canned and kibble pet food you have synthetic substances, soy and MSG. Considering soy products and MSG are often at the top of the list of substances that can cause inflammation and allergic reactions, do you think it is possible that these commercial pet foods could be contributing to your pet’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease and other health issues? Of course they could!

Incomplete Digestion

Poorly digested food is a common problem in our dogs and cats and often contributes to Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This occurs because larger food particles are not broken down properly into their smaller constituents that allow for normal absorption through the digestive tract and healthy elimination. Instead, these larger food particles can contribute to damage and disease in the digestive tract resulting in immune system disturbances and related inflammation. The body’s reaction to these undigested, inflammatory particles is to eliminate them from the body as quickly as possible resulting in diarrhea.
  • Infection

There are various species of bacteria and viruses that are suspected to be potential causes of IBD. Many of these have been identified in people, such as rotavirus and Epstein-Barr virus, but similar organisms may be responsible for IBD symptoms in our dogs and cats as well.
  • Drugs / Supplements
    Certain drugs can cause symptoms similar to Inflammatory Bowel Disease for a number of different reasons. One reason is the body’s desire to remove offending substances from your animal’s body as quickly as possible. This results in digestive waste being moving through the digestive tract more quickly with less time spent in the colon where healthy stool is formed.

    Another reason is the altering of the balance of digestive flora. This certainly is the case with antibiotics that destroy colonies of beneficial organisms allowing the overgrowth of invasive, opportunistic organisms like Candida albicans. These unwelcome organisms often secrete toxins and interfere with proper digestion. If your dog or cat’s elimination behavior changes soon after the addition of a new medication there is a very good possibility that the drug is contributing to the diarrhea or other symptoms. If you aren’t sure you can do an online search to check for the side effects of the medication you are using. Due to the potential for side effects related to medications, we recommend a holistic approach using natural supplements and herbal remedies as an IBD treatment approach for dogs and cats. Medications can always be resorted to later if absolutely necessary.

Another condition that could be confused with Inflammatory Bowel Disease is called osmotic diarrhea. This occurs when certain substances cause excess water to be retained or drawn into the bowels based on the principles of osmosis. Excessive sugar (as with lactose intolerance - a milk sugar) or salt intake can cause osmotic diarrhea as can the use of too much water-soluble molecules, like magnesium or vitamin C, that result in increased fluid retention in the bowel.

Dog and Cat Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of IBD in canines and felines are caused by the animal not feeling well due to inflammation in the digestive tract and include:

  • Soft stool or diarrhea
  • Pain/discomfort in the lower abdomen
  • Blood in stool due to irritation of digestive tract
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • General malaise
  • Fever

What causes IBD flare-ups in dogs and cats?

There can be many causes of an animal’s inflammatory bowel disease flare-up. In our experience the top three causes are diet, medications and stress.

  • Diet is obvious, as a dog or cat can be sensitive to an ingredient in their food that causes an inflammatory reaction in the digestive tract. This can be resolved by eliminating ingredients until you find what works for your animal. A digestive enzyme and probiotic supplement should also be considered because poor digestion of the proteins in your pet’s food can contribute to an inflammatory immune reaction in the digestive tract.
  • Medications also, ironically, cause symptoms that can be misdiagnosed as IBD. Drugs like NSAIDs and many others can irritate or damage the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and cause inflammation. Always check the side-effects of your dog or cat’s medication to see if stomach upset or diarrhea is listed.
  • Stress can cause inflammation of the digestive tract and also make your dog or cat more susceptible to infection. In addition, stress can cause your pet’s esophagus to go into spasms increase the acid in the stomach causing indigestion and even interfere with the “churning” that goes on in the stomach as part of digestion leading to a feeling of being nauseous.

Does IBD cause cancer in dogs and cats?

Inflammatory bowel disease may not “cause” cancer per se, but it certainly can increase the risk of colon cancer in your dog or cat. This is because the chronic inflammation that animals with IBD experience can eventually cause DNA damage that can lead to cancer. In addition, drugs used to control IBD, like corticosteroids, can reduce immune system function making your dog or cat more susceptible to disease.

Is there a cure for dogs and cats with IBD?

Dogs and cats with inflammatory bowel disease can certainly be cured, although we as a company are not allowed to use this term in our work with animals. Cure is defined as “to relieve (a person or animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition” and this can be accomplished with the proper knowledge and tools. There is not one “magic bullet” when it comes to IBD. Instead, we must use a protocol that takes many factors into account like diet, exposure to chemicals, medications, stress etc. Take a look at our Natural IBD Protocol below for our recommendations to help make your dog or cat with IBD healthy again.

3. Standard Veterinary Medicine Approach To IBD for Dogs and Cats

How is IBD diagnosed in dogs and cats?

Inflammatory bowel disease is commonly diagnosed simply through symptoms. If your dog or cat has chronic digestive upset accompanied by diarrhea they will usually be diagnosed with IBD. Additionally, your veterinarian will examine your dog for underlying illnesses and may assess for dehydration. He or she may take a stool sample to check for the presence of internal parasites, as well as conduct blood tests to identify a possible cause of your pet's symptoms. Other diagnostic tests might include radiographs, ultrasound, cultures, endoscopy and biopsy. The diagnostic tests performed will depend on how long the symptoms have been going on and the severity of your pet's condition. Treatment recommendations will be determined by the results of x-rays or other diagnostic tests that determine if any abnormalities are present in the GI tract.

"The inability of steroids to heal the bowel, although they effectively down regulate inflammation, may be due to their deleterious effects on tissue restitution in segments of bowel with deep ulcers. By contrast, long lasting remission maintained with immunomodulators (e.g. herbs) may be associated with thorough bowel healing."(1)

For a condition like inflammatory bowel disease, it is most common for a veterinarian to prescribe an antibiotic for your dog or cat even when the cause of the diarrhea or other symptoms is unknown. Overusing antibiotics in this way is dangerous and leads to imbalances in your dog or cat that can lead to lifelong disabilities as well as the possibility of stronger, antibiotic resistant bacteria strains in the future. Your vet may also prescribe a steroid medication in an effort to reduce inflammation within the digestive tract. This may be necessary for some very short term needs, but if the symptoms are not life-threatening then other more holistic approaches will be more suitable with less undesirable side effects. A natural treatment approach for dogs and cats with IBD can be a great option with which to begin.

How is IBD treated in dogs and cats?

Unfortunately, it is common for a veterinarian to prescribe antibiotics even when the cause of the diarrhea or other symptoms is unknown. Overusing antibiotics in this way is dangerous and leads to imbalances in your dog or cat that can lead to lifelong disabilities as well as the possibility of stronger, antibiotic resistant bacteria strains in the future. Your vet may also prescribe a steroid medication in an effort to reduce inflammation within the digestive tract. This may be necessary for some very short term needs but if the symptoms are not life threatening then other more natural approaches will be more suitable with less undesirable side effects.

How does a steroid help dogs and cats with IBD?

Steroids are medications that help pets with inflammatory bowel disease by reducing activity of the immune system. Since inflammation is a normal, healthy part of the immune response, by reducing immune activity you lower inflammation. An animal with IBD can benefit because inflammation of the digestive tract is responsible for their symptoms. However, while using a steroid might be a quick fix it does come with a wide range of possible side effects. In addition, this drug does nothing to repair damage to the mucosal lining of the GI tract. With IBD a natural approach is generally going to be more comprehensive and effective.

When to Bring Your Pet with IBD to The Vet

Bring your dog or cat to the vet if severe diarrhea continues for more than a day, or if you observe lethargy, vomiting, fever, dark-colored or bloody stools, straining to defecate, decreased appetite or unexplained weight loss. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice your puppy has diarrhea, as it can be an important indicator of serious diseases in young dogs.

4. Holistic Inflammatory Bowel Disease Protocol for Dogs and Cats

The goal of our Natural IBD Protocol is to support the health and proper functioning of your dog or cat's digestive tract by reducing inflammation, improving digestion and replenishing beneficial flora.* At the same time, in a holistic fashion, we want to address any contributing factors whether these are in your pet's diet, environment or are related to medication side-effects. Since we do not necessarily know the root cause(s) of the imbalance in your particular animal, we do know from our research and experience what are the primary culprits.

Core Recommendations Suggested products are included in the Core Inflammatory Bowel Package found below.

Our "Core Recommendations" form the backbone of our IBD Protocol. They consist of supplement recommendations that we feel are the most important to provide to your animal companion for this condition. They are displayed as a package and individually at the bottom of this page along with other helpful products for your pet's inflammatory bowel disease from which you may make additional selections.

A complimentary IBD Help Sheet is included with every core inflammatory bowel disease package purchase. If you require more direction please feel free to use our Email Consultation Form.

Diarrhea Relief to Treat IBD in Dogs & Cats Naturally

  Core Recommendation #1 - Diarrhea Relief Formula

IBD is caused by inflammation in the digestive tract that results in diarrhea and other uncomfortable symptoms. Our Diarrhea Relief is a wonderful natural approach to inflammatory bowel disease because it can contribute to healing, not just the suppression of symptoms like medications. This natural herbal remedy contains organic herbs known for their anti-inflammatory benefits as well as soluble fibers and a special bacteria that provide benefits such as:

  • Reduce inflammation in the GI tract
  • Slow the transit time through the digestive tract so there is less liquid stool
  • Act as carminatives to reduce uncomfortable symptoms related to gas and cramping
  • Create bulk for a firmer stool
  • Quickly replaces beneficial bacteria that are being flushed out by diarrhea
Digestive Enzymes & Probiotics Natural Remedy for IBD in Dogs & Cats

  Core Recommendation #2 - Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics

One of the possible causes of your dog or cat's inflammatory bowel disease relates to the poor digestion of their meals. When molecules like proteins are incompletely broken down into their smallest size (amino acids) they can often cause inflammation in the digestive tract and throughout the body. The enzymes in this formula will help to quickly and completely break down your pet's meals. The probiotics and whole food prebiotics will help to restore a healthier balance of beneficial flora to the digestive tract as well as a stronger mucosal lining.

Repair & Strengthen Natural Treatment for IBD in Dogs & Cats

  Core Recommendation #3 - Repair and Strengthen

This formula contains a cold-processed whey protein isolate supplying the important amino acid glutamine, colostrum that provides anti-inflammatory proline-rich polypeptides and healing growth factors that help to repair damaged tissue along with organic Aloe vera that provides soothing, anti-inflammatory and healing benefits. All these nutrients are important to the growth and maintenance of intestinal cells and can greatly benefit dogs and cats with inflammatory bowel issues.

Other Recommendations

Best Dog & Cat Food for Irritable Bowel Disease  Whole Food Nutrition

With a condition like Inflammatory Bowel Disease your dog or cat needs the highest value nutrition possible to provide the body with what it needs for maintenance and repair. Because of this we highly recommend a whole food diet, which just means real food not processed. We normally recommend raw food because this is how carnivores, like canines and felines, have evolved to eat and they do best on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. However, some animal's with conditions like IBD may have an initial problem properly digesting raw food so you will have to see what works best for your particular dog or cat. Fortunately there are now many quality premixes to choose from to which you can add your own raw or cooked meat.

Be aware that kibble diets are harder for an animal to digest and most contain many highly processed ingredients that can contribute to inflammatory conditions in the digestive tract and this is the last thing your dog or cat needs at this point. Poor digestion can contribute to the symptoms we generally see in animals with IBD like like diarrhea and even arthritis and allergy issues. In addition, because commercial pet foods contain so many different ingredients that are often poor quality, it can be difficult to determine which ingredient may be contributing to your pet's condition.

If you decide to make a homemade diet please research the proper way to do this and make sure to add a calcium source. For more information and some product recommendations read our article How to Feed Your Dog or How to Feed Your Cat that can be found in our Education section.

Stomach Soother to Treat IBD in Dogs & Cats Naturally

  Stomach Soother

This is a great remedy to have on hand for those times your dog or cat gets an upset tummy. The organic herbs in this formula work wonderfully to relieve gas, indigestion and nausea that can make your pet feel awful. This can be given daily before or after meals or kept in the fridge to use as needed.

Daily Vitamin Natural Remedy for Irritable Bowel Disease in Dogs & Cats

  Daily Multi Plus

We highly recommend you transition to this product to replace our Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics when your animal's condition has improved. Our Daily Multi Plus is formulated with organic, whole foods that are extremely important to an animal's nutritional needs but are often missing from the majority of canine and feline diets. This special formula provides the enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, glandulars, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that are so beneficial to the body's daily maintenance and repair needs for healthy aging. In this formula you will find the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants recommended by the veterinarian community for this condition - only in an organic, whole food form!

Herbal Digestive Tonic IBD in Dogs & Cats Natural Treatment

  Herbal Digestive Tonic

Many animals we work with are having problems with insufficient stomach acid (hypochloridia). Feeding a kibble diet raises the alkalinity of your pet's stomach resulting in incomplete digestion, but dogs and cats can have problems properly digesting other foods as well. This contributes to many inflammatory issues in the body such as diarrhea, arthritis and allergies. Our Herbal Digestive Tonic contains organic herbal bitters tinctured in organic apple cider vinegar that helps to acidify the gut and stimulate gastric, intestinal and gall bladder (bile) secretions to supercharge digestion. *Wait until any ulcerations in digestive tract are healed before using this formula. *Liquids like this are usually more difficult to get into cats.

Biopreparation Natural Remedy for IBD in Dogs & Cats

  BioPreparation Microalgae Supplement

When your dog or cat is suffering with an imbalance there will be an increase in free radical production that can further damage tissue and cause premature aging and possibly other disease. We want to provide your animal with high quality antioxidants to neutralize these free radicals along with other nutrients to aid the body's healing and rebuilding processes. This specialized blend of microalgae is able to travel directly into the cells lining the digestive tract providing nutrients on a cellular level. In addition, nutrients from the microalgae are able to cross the blood brain barrier and the retinal barrier for amazing effects on the brain and eyes as well as the entire body. This is truly an amazing and beneficial supplement we recommend to all of our clients as part of a natural approach for inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats.. Select either F2 Core (basic daily support) or F3 Forte (more concentrated) depending on which you feel is best for your dog or cat - contact us with any questions.

Antimicrobial Natural Remedy for Irritable Bowel Disease in Dogs & Cats

  Antimicrobial Formula

If you feel that your dog or cat has come into contact with a microorganism that is causing diarrhea, either because you recently went for a hike or to the dog park, then providing this herbal antimicrobial formula could be of benefit. This remedy contains organic herbs that help to strengthen the immune system while providing antimicrobial activity effective against bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi. When your animal's condition is not considered to be life-threatening, this natural formula can make a great alternative to broad spectrum antibiotics that can eliminate beneficial organisms throughout the entire body possibly leading to, or aggravating, imbalances like inflammatory bowel disease or urinary tract infections that can last the lifetime of your dog or cat.


Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Retrieved from

Chronic Inflammation. Retrieved from

Are the chelated proteinate minerals added to my pet food I use better than a non-chelated form of a mineral? Retrieved from

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Kidd, R. (2000). Dr. Kidd’s guide to herbal dog care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Messonnier, S. (2001). Natural health bible for dogs & cats: You’re a-z guide to over 200 conditions, herbs, vitamins and supplements. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Murray, M. T., & Pizzorno, J. E. (1998). Encyclopedia of natural medicine (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
Pitcairn R. H., & Hubble-Pitcairn S. (1995). Dr. Pitcairn’s complete guide to natural health for dogs & cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc.

Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Puotinen, CJ. (2000). The encyclopedia of natural pet care (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Keats Publishing.

Tilford, G. L., & Wulff, M. L. (2009). Herbs for pets: The natural way to enhance your pet’s life. (2nd ed.). Irvine, CA: BowTie Press.

Thibodeau, G.A., & Patton, K.T. (2008). Structure & function of the body. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

5. Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats with IBD

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Supplements for Dogs and Cats
Our Inflammatory Bowel Disease Package for Dogs and Cats consists of the three supplements we consider to form the foundation of our Natural Inflammatory Bowel Disease Protocol. This supplement package for dogs with IBD is a research-based protocol developed by a certified...
Diarrhea Relief Remedy for Dogs and Cats
Diarrhea Relief for dogs and cats contains the perfect blend of organic herbs, soluble fibers and probiotic organisms to help relieve symptoms of diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and other similar conditions. Diarrhea can be caused by a number of different factors,...
Repair and Strengthen for Dogs and Cats
Repair and Strengthen for dogs and cats has been formulated to help heal the digestive tract and will also support lean muscle growth and maintenance. This formula was created for the many clients we have worked with that have a history...
Daily Multi Plus for Dogs and Cats
Our Daily Multi Plus is a premier supplement for dogs and cats featuring organic, whole food nutrition. This 3-supplements-in-1 formula was created in response to our clients’ requests to simplify their animal’s supplement regimen and is sure to exceed even...
from $26.95
Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics for Dogs and Cats
Our Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics is a high-potency formula created specifically for dogs and cats. Formulated with higher amounts of plant enzymes and probiotics needed to help your animals properly digest raw food, kibble, canned and home-prepared diets. Most other...
from $19.95
Stomach Soother Upset Stomach Remedy for Dogs and Cats
Stomach Soother for dogs and cats is a natural remedy for upset stomach or belly ache due to nausea, gas or indigestion. Made with USDA organic herbs and formulated by a certified Master Herbalist, Stomach Soother will help to reduce...
from $24.95
Collagen for Dogs and Cats
Collagen for dogs and cats is comprised of hydrolyzed collagen peptides that provide both types I and III collagen which are major components of skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, gums, teeth, eyes and blood vessels. This is the...
Colostrum Powder for Dogs and Cats
Our Colostrum Powder for dogs and cats is the finest 100% human-grade colostrum available for your animal. Certified true colostrum by Cornell University, it is 6-hour, first-milking colostrum. This is far superior to many other similar products that are often...
from $24.95
Microbiome Harmony for Dogs and Cats
Microbiome Harmony is a synbiotic blend for dogs and cats that features a room-temperature stable probiotic organism that is resistant to the higher temperatures and acidic conditions found in the digestive tract. A synbiotic combines probiotics with prebiotics to form...
Licorice Root for Dogs and Cats
Licorice Root for dogs and cats is a natural, herbal remedy beneficial for numerous health challenges your pet may experience. Licorice contains a constituent called glycyrrhizin that has similar properties to the adrenal cortex hormones such as cortisol. Because of...
Sunflower Lecithin
Organic Sunflower Lecithin for dogs and cats provides the important nutrients choline and phospholipids. We provide the finest lecithin available that is cold-processed to preserve vital nutrients. This supplement can be used to support your pet in several different ways....
Antimicrobial Formula for Dogs and Cats
Antimicrobial Formula is the ultimate herbal blend for supporting your dog or cat's immune system and assisting their body with eliminating pathogenic organisms*. Formulated by a certified Master Herbalist using USDA organic herbs, this blend will help to support healthy...
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