The 3 Golden Rules for Dogs with IBD
Caring for a dog with Inflamed Bowel Disease can be scary and overwhelming. It seems like they can relapse at any second, and that any relapse can bring them to the brink of death. Quincy and I have had a rollercoaster ride ever since his first hospital visit over a year ago. There are so many details of this disease, but it can be managed with these 3 golden rules for dogs with IBD.
Keep up on the meds
This one is the key for Quincy that holds the whole thing together. The difference in Quincy’s energy when he’s on or off meds is night and day. He can be taken off, or have his meds reduced, for short periods, but they make a big difference in his appetite and energy levels. If he’s off for too long, he goes downhill fast. The vet has helped us test out how much he should be on and for how long, so we’ve seen some ups and downs. It’s become clear that Quincy needs to stay on the meds as much as possible, and it’s made a world of difference.
Quincy is on Prednisone, which is a steroid. There are side effects, such as his hair not growing much, but overall his health is much better while he’s on it. Working with the vet, if we can take him off of it for short periods so his fur will grow, we’ll do that. But I’d rather have a bald dog that’s alive! Keeping up on meds doesn’t necessarily mean staying on them. With your vet’s supervision, you may be able to take breaks as well. But you need to be able to recognize the signs that your dog is going downhill and needs to be put back on them.
Make sure they don’t eat the wrong thing
Food is dangerous for dogs with Inflamed Bowel Disease. Things that Quincy could get away with eating before are now possibly deadly to him. At the very least, they make for very uncomfortable potty breaks. Quincy is an expert at sneaking food he shouldn’t eat, so it’s required more vigilance and puppy-proofing, but he’s so much healthier when he doesn’t get into the wrong thing.
Just last week, I was noticing how much healthier Quincy’s bowel movements were. Gross, sure, but it’s the most accurate insight to his digestive health. The very next day, he had the runs again. Then I discovered that he had gotten into the turtle food and eaten the entire container! I’m not sure how he got into it, but now I keep the turtle food in a much more secure location.
Make sure they DO eat the right thing
More than anything else, loss of appetite has done a number on Quincy. His ideal weight is 25 pounds, but he got all the way down to 16 pounds when I couldn’t convince him to eat anything. He hated the prescription diet, so I had to look for other options. With the help of a good friend who has been in the pet food business for years, we were able to find canned food that would entice him to eat, and dry food that would get him the nutrients he needs. Most dog kibble is too high in fat for Quincy, so it’s hard to find options. But Solid Gold is perfect for him, and he likes it.
You have to read the labels, but a lot of canned food is acceptable. With Quincy, I discovered that he doesn’t like pate food, so we searched for other options. He likes canned food with shredded chicken the best, but it’s hard to find. However, there are many canned foods labeled “chunky” or “stew”. These ones work great, but I still have to cut up the larger pieces for him.
Finding the right food may sound intimidating and expensive, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Many pet stores, especially the big box pet stores, allow you to return pet food if your animal doesn’t like it. So you can try out any food without worrying about wasting money on stuff they won’t eat.
Don’t let this disease overwhelm you! With these 3 golden rules for dogs with IBD, managing your dog’s health will be much easier. It all boils down to putting the right stuff in your dog’s mouth. Work with your vet to find the best plan for your dog, then stick with it! Your dog can still lead a happy and healthy life for years to come.