Inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats

01 October 2011
15 mins read
Volume 2 · Issue 8
Figure 1. Cat with a nasogastric tube and Elizabethan collar.
Figure 1. Cat with a nasogastric tube and Elizabethan collar.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been defined clinically as a spectrum of intestinal disorders associated with chronic inflammation and thickening of the small and/or large intestinal tract. The condition can affect both dogs and cats and there is a notable breed disposition with some forms of the disease. The cause of IBD is largely unknown but dietary allergy, parasite sensitivity, bacterial imbalance and breed predisposition may be important factors contributing to the condition. Definitive diagnosis usually involves intestinal biopsy and treatment is typically centred around management of the clinical signs. Complete remission of the disease is not always possible. Dietary support is a very important part of long-term management of this condition and veterinary nurses can play an important role in client education.

Chronic diarrhoea, vomiting, and weight loss are common conditions seen in general practice. There are a number of underlying causes, including poorly understood conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is a collective term that describes a number of different inflammatory conditions of the mucosa in the large and/or small intestine. It is a condition diagnosed histologically when no other etiology can be found. There are a number of different forms of IBD that can be diagnosed but the most common is lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis, and is often idiopathic in origin. The condition is common in dogs and cats of any age and is associated with chronic intermittent episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhoea as well as anorexia, decreased intestinal functioning, intestinal mal absorption, and weight loss. The exact cause of the inflammation is poorly understood and treatment can prove challenging. Controlling clinical signs is the primary concern throughout treatment and it is important that clients are supported and educated to ensure the best success in managing the disease (Hall and German, 2010).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting The Veterinary Nurse and reading some of our peer-reviewed content for veterinary professionals. To continue reading this article, please register today.