Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD or can affect cats and dogs. The primary symptom is frequent diarrhea and/or chronic vomiting (more than once every couple months or even less). IBD is not a single diagnosis and there are many variations to this disease. It usually means instituting a restricted diet, after lots of testing, which in combination with diabetes can mean a very restricted diet and perhaps and owner prepared diet. Many cats that suffer from IBD also suffer from triaditis. IBD can also cause nutritional deficiencies.

Neuropathy can affect the bowels, which can lead to constipation and possibly other bowel symptoms.

These cats and dogs are case studies in Diabetes and IBD.


If you or your veterinarian suspects your cat may be suffering from IBD there are several diagnostic tests that may be warranted. A full blood workup including CBC, blood chemistry, and full fasting GI panel (TLI, PLI, B12/cobolamine & folate) can assist in the in the diagnosis. Frequently, the CBC and Chem panel will display unspecific anomalies.

Parasites can play a role in IBD and they should be searched for and eliminated as a cause if possible. Fecal analysis is frequently used to find parasites.

Helicobacter may have some connection with IBD and lymphoma[1][2]. PCR testing is a noninvasive means to test preferably fecal or even saliva of an animal for Helicobacter. In PCR-based testing, nucleic acid - DNA or RNA - is isolated and then tested for known target sequences. There are many other applications to this emerging technology including testing for a wide variety of other microorganisms. PCR ("clonality test") can even help in the identification of certain types of cancer such as leukemia and lymphoma. A PCR test for lymphoma is conducted, perhaps by referal, at some research labs such as Michigan State, North Carolina State, UC Davis and perhaps others. Presently PCR testing for microorganisms is done at some research centers and it is available though some private labs. Zoologix offers a PCR Helicobacter panel (testing for many strains of Helicobacter at once) and, if positive, for a little more money they will identify the strain.

An ultrasound may also be warranted particularly in the identification of thickened bowels and intestines. Lastly, invasive diagnostics may also be warranted including endoscopy or exploratory surgery via laparotomy.


Treatment for this disease is dependent on the type of IBD the animal may have. IBD can involve parasites, infections, cancer and/or food allergies among others.

The elimination of grains in the diet such as but not limited to oats, wheat or rice and/or grain products like wheat gluten, among others, are thought to potentially help in the control of this disease. Also, novel protein or hypoallergenic protein diets or are frequently recommended with varying degrees and lengths of success.

If parasites are present, they should be eliminated.

If Helicobacter is present it is usually treated with antibiotics. Recent success [100% eradication] has been shown in a limited trial treating H. pylori with amoxicillin, metronidazole and clarithromycin.[3] However, this protocol might cause greater upset stomach than other protocols.

The chronic inflammation of IBD may have some relation to the development of intestinal lymphoma [4] and thus it is important to try to reduce or eliminate this inflammation. Sometimes steroids are prescribed to attempt to reduce the inflammatory effects of IBD. If steroids are used in the treatment of your non-diabetic pet's IBD, their connection to diabetes should be considered. Further, if your pet is already diabetic then steroids may increase your pets insulin resistance.

If cancer is present, it is important to know the type of cancer so it can be potentially treated with the most effective therapies. Diagnosis of cancer can be problematic in IBD: needle aspirations are limited and sometimes inaccurate, and endoscopies cannot reach the entire digestional tract. Thus, frequently laparotomy is recommended.

Further ReadingEdit





  1. Helicobacter in Dogs and Cats--What's New? - Simpson 2006
  2. Molecular methods to distinguish reactive and neoplastic lymphocyte expansions and their importance in transitional neoplastic states - Avery 2008
  3. Helicobacter in Dogs and Cats--What's New? - Simpson WASVA 2006
  4. Association of Helicobacter with Cholangiohepatitis in Cats - Simpson
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