Inflammatory Bowel Disease

You may have heard these words before. If your pet has come to see us for the odd vomit that isn’t so infrequent anymore, or session of diarrhea that just won’t quit – you may have heard your doctor mention, “I think that Fluffy may have something called inflammatory bowel disease.” But what does that mean, exactly?

Unfortunately, the exact cause of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, isn’t completely known. The current train of thought concerning the cause of IBD is in line with certain food allergies or sensitivities, and defective tissue within the intestinal tract to regulate sensitivity to different proteins. This can cause vomiting, weight loss, and decreased appetite, and is usually seen as a chronic condition before actually being diagnosed.

“But, doctor, my cat has been vomiting for years. Isn’t that just what cats do?”

The occasional, once-a-year vomit or hairball is generally not too concerning for either dogs or cats; what points towards suspicion of IBD is a chronic, every-day type of vomiting. IBD does not discriminate in age, though certain breeds of cat or dog do seem to be more prone to it. All of a sudden, Fluffy isn’t feeling great; maybe they didn’t want breakfast for a few days, and they seem off, but you can’t pinpoint what’s changed.

“So how do we find out it is IBD and not just a stomach bug?”

When you bring your pet in to see us with these concerns, we can work to rule out an upset stomach or the possibility that they have eaten something they shouldn’t have. We generally move to bloodwork to figure out what is going on inside of Fluffy. This blood work checks a full blood count, chemistry profile, and usually, a test for pancreas protein levels as well, as sometimes, there is a degree of inflammation in the pancreas as well as the rest of the intestinal tract. In cases of IBD, it is not unusual to see normal blood work except for a low intestinal protein value – which means Fluffy’s intestines are having a hard time holding onto the protein their ingesting.

“So, what’s next?”

Advanced imaging is, of course, an option. IBD on ultrasound can be seen as a thickening of the intestinal wall; while on x-ray, it may be accompanied by gas. However, neither of these findings are confirmative of IBD. While we wish it were possible for everyone, the best way to confirm IBD is by taking a sample of the intestine and sending it away for testing. This means surgery for Fluffy, akin to exploratory surgery, and many factors are contributing to whether we would discuss this as a part of Fluffy’s treatment plan.

“Alright. So if surgery isn’t on the table, what does treatment look like?”

Our main goal is to control Fluffy’s nausea and discomfort; this may include injections of the b12 vitamin to help support any loss from vomiting, or a course of steroids to help with inflammation. These are usually accompanied by a diet change, similar to that of a food allergy, where we discuss using different protein sources, or even going to hypoallergenic (non-meat protein) diets. If your pet is experiencing diarrhea, we support that as well. It may seem like an overload to start, but the goal is to get Fluffy feeling better, gaining any weight back that was lost, and finding a diet that makes their intestines happy.

Inflammatory bowel disease is by no means a poor prognosis, it can be entirely manageable, and we are here as your veterinary team to make that as possible for you as we can.

Sources used to gather information are as follows:

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Small Animals

Written by Sarah Boundy, RVT


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Last updated: December 14, 2021

Dear Clients,

With the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in our region, we are temporarily moving back to curbside service. Effective Tuesday, December 14th we are not allowing clients in exam rooms with their pets. Here is what you can expect:

  • Come in to let us know that you're here for your appointment. 2 clients will be allowed at a time in our reception area for food and med pick up and to inform us that they are here for their appointment.
  • Please wait in your car after letting us know you've arrived. Once you have notified us that you are here for your appointment we ask that you wait in your car and we will come out and collect your furry family member for their appointment.
  • The doctor will call once the appointment is done and you can then come back to the reception desk to take care of the invoice and collect your furry family member.
  • Face masks are required when interacting with our team and entering the building. Please sanitze your hands if you come inside.
  • Food and medication pick-ups inside. If there are more than 2 people in our waiting area, we ask that you wait outside until there is sufficient space.
  • Washrooms will be closed to the public until further notice.
  • These measures are temporary and we will reassess as time goes on. Please keep a lookout for any further updates from our team. Together, we can all help in stopping the spread of COVID-19. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call us at (613) 542-7337.


    If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.


    We are OPEN with the following hours:

    Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Tuesday, Friday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Saturday: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
    Sunday: CLOSED


    Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Kingston Veterinary Clinic