Canine inflammatory bowel disease: The 8 components of therapy (Proceedings)

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Canine inflammatory bowel disease: The 8 components of therapy (Proceedings)

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Apr 01, 2010

IBD has been defined clinically as a spectrum of gastrointestinal disorders associated with chronic inflammation of the stomach, intestine and/or colon of unknown etiology. A clinical diagnosis of IBD is considered only if affected animals have: (1) persistent (>3 weeks in duration) gastrointestinal signs (anorexia, vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea, hematochezia, mucousy feces), (2) failure to respond to symptomatic therapies (parasiticides, antibiotics, gastrointestinal protectants) alone, (3) failure to document other causes of gastroenterocolitis by thorough diagnostic evaluation, and (4) histologic diagnosis of benign intestinal inflammation. Small bowel and large bowel forms of IBD have been reported in both dogs and cats, although large bowel IBD appears to be more prevalent in the dog.

Treatment – Management of IBD consists of 1) dietary therapy, 2) exercise, 3) antibiotics, 4) probiotics, 5) anti-diarrheal agents, 6) restoration of normal motility, 7) anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive therapy, and 8) behavioral modification.

1. Dietary Therapy

The precise immunologic mechanisms of canine and feline IBD have not yet been determined, but a prevailing hypothesis for the development of IBD is the loss of immunologic tolerance to the normal bacterial flora or food antigens. Accordingly, dietary modification may prove useful in the management of canine and feline IBD. Several nutritional strategies have been proposed including novel proteins, hydrolyzed diets, anti-oxidant diets, medium chain triglyceride supplementation, low fat diets, modifications in the omega-6/omega-3 (ω-6/ω-3) fatty acid ratio, and fiber supplementation. Of these strategies, some evidence-based medicine has emerged for the use of novel protein, hydrolyzed, and fiber-supplemented diets.

Food sensitivity reactions were suspected or documented in 49% of cats presented because of gastroenterologic problems (with or without concurrent dermatologic problems) in a prospective study of adverse food reactions in cats. Beef, wheat, and corn gluten were the primary ingredients responsible for food sensitivity reactions in that study, and most of the cats responded to the feeding of a chicken- or venison-based selected-protein diet for a minimum of 4 weeks. The authors concluded that adverse reactions to dietary staples are common in cats with chronic gastrointestinal problems and that they can be successfully managed by feeded selected-protein diets. Further support for this concept comes from studies in which gastroenterologic or dermatologic clinical signs were significantly improved by the feeding of novel proteins.

Evidence is accruing that hydrolyzed diets may be useful in the nutritional management of canine IBD. The conceptual basis of the hydrolyzed diet is that oligopeptides are of insufficient size and structure to induce antigen recognition or presentation. In one preliminary study, dogs with inflammatory bowel disease showed significant improvement following the feeding of a hydrolyzed diet although they had failed to respond to the feeding of a novel protein. Clinical improvement could not be solely attributed to the hydrolyzed nature of the protein source because the test diet had other modified features, i.e., high digestibility, cornstarch rather than intact grains, medium chain triglycerides, and an altered ratio of ω-6 to ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Additional studies will be required to ascertain the efficacy of this nutritional strategy in the management of IBD.

Fiber-supplemented diets may be useful in the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the dog. IBS is a poorly defined syndrome in the dog that may or may not bear resemblance to IBS in humans. Canine IBS has been defined as a chronic large-bowel type diarrhea without known cause and without evidence of colonic inflammation on colonoscopy or biopsy. Dogs fulfilling these criteria were successfully managed with soluble fiber (psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid) supplementation of a highly digestible diet.