Intestinal Tract Problems (IBD, IBS, and Colitis)

There are various types of intestinal tract problems among pets, and often, pet owners get them confused. Each causes a pet to exhibit similar symptoms, but not all are alike. In learning the subtle differences, you can help understand which issue your pet is suffering from and get them the treatment they need.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a psychosomatic disease (mental illness that is characterized by physical symptoms) and is entirely self-inflicted by an over-abundance of anxiety.

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome:

  • Constipation 
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Mucous in stool
  • Urgency to defecate

Treatment of IBS

The treatment of IBS focuses on identifying and addressing the anxiety or stressor. Inconsistent schedules, frequent moving, or weather changes can all contribute to anxiety, as can numerous other causes. Increasing fiber in the pet’s diet tends to help IBS symptoms, as does adding an anti-diarrheal medication during flare-ups. In extreme cases, the veterinarian can prescribe anti-anxiety medication to keep a pet’s stress level under control, but this is typically used as a last resort.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders affecting cats and dogs. IBD is characterized by chronic inflammation of the small and large intestines which results in a disruption of the digestive system’s regular contractions. This disruption produces irregular contractions that cause mucus and toxins to collect in the intestines and build a partial obstruction that traps gas and feces. This obstruction results in bloating, distention, and constipation.

Most causes of IBD are unknown but could be related to food allergies, bacterial or viral infection, or parasites.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Anorexia
  • Bloating
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Mucous in stool
  • Nausea

Treatment for inflammatory bowel disease

Treatment for inflammatory bowel disease is a tough balancing act, because pets respond drastically different and causes of IBD usually cannot be determined. Prescription medication along with dietary restriction is usually the best method of treatment, though some pet owners are against medicating their pets. Dietary management comprises of eliminating allergens from the diet and adding non-fermentable fiber with the intention of normalizing a pet’s bowel movements. The veterinarian also recommends limiting tap water intake and opting for bottled water, because tap water can contain lead, copper, mercury, and aluminum, which can irritate a sensitive stomach and cause inflammation. It is important to note, that it is difficult to obtain a full recovery with diet alone.

If you opt for medication for your pet, the veterinarian will determine which is best based on your pet’s species. Some medications are better for dogs, while others work best for cats.


Colitis is a condition similar to inflammatory bowel disease and causes rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and abdominal spasms. It is more common in dogs but reported instances in cats have been increasing. Because finding the origin of the problem is difficult, treatment is typically symptomatic.

How is colitis treated? 

  • Drug therapy – implements the use of anti-inflammatories. This form of treatment can have long-term side-effects, so it is rarely used over an extended period of time. 
  • Dietary management – initiating a change in diet to control fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids with the intention of controlling colitis. 
    • Elimination diets: consists of removing all additives and supplements from diet, stripping it down to one carbohydrate and one “novel” protein (a protein that the pet has previously been unexposed to). After the symptoms dissipate, a normal diet can be reintroduced. 
    • Hypoallergenic diets: involves feeding one “novel” protein for a 4 week period then slowly introducing a second “novel” protein. This second protein can typically be used to manage symptoms long-term.

If you have any questions about intestinal tract issues or if your pet is exhibiting any of the issues described above, please contact our office, and we can help diagnose the issue and formulate a treatment plan.


Read what people are saying about us.

read more


Here's a vet that still cares.
Just wanted to say I love Dr. Petcu's staff and his compassionate , caring way of taking care of my dogs.The staff is not only friendly and professional ,they know who you are when you arrive ,and they actually love animals. Is the first Animal Hospital that my dogs are at ease and feel comfortable.The place is very clean and the reception area very elegant and inviting. Exquisite services and Dr. Petcu always take his time to explain the disease and options and still finds time to play with my dogs. He's always treated both his animal and human patients with compassion and dignity,and would never recommend procedures unless he truly feels your pet will benefit from it. One of the vets that cares for your pet. The prices are reasonable and the services exceed all expectations. I Highly recommend Dr.Petcu and his hospital.

Reba S

Western Animal Hospital AMAZING! Western Animal Hospital is the best place in the valley .The staff is professional, friendly, caring and accommodating. The hospital is very clean and upscale. The customer service and the provided services are outstanding.Dr. Petcu is one of the most professional veterinarians that i have ever met in my 25 years of pet parenting. I drive across the valley just to see him( i live in Anthem) .He really cares about his animal patients and it shows in every visits . He is very knowledgeable , compassionate, friendly and always takes the time to answer any question i have and explaining in detail any situation we are dealing with. I had my share of visits to many animal hospitals in the valley but none of them had the last technology as Western - digital X-ray ( they send you home with a cd for you x-ray records ) every room has a computer monitor where the x-ray shows and Dr. Petcu can review with me every detail of it. Also they have the laser surgery and digital dental x-ray. Dr. petcu is one of the most
courteous and pleasant Vets I have ever met. The prices are more than reasonable and also they try to accommodate everybody. I cannot recommend them enough. You can rest easy knowing your pets are in their care.I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS HOSPITAL - THEY HAVE A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE IN ME! very good !

Betty K

Western Animal Hospital this doctor is making a lot of sense and will explain everything in details..
prices are great ....

.the best vet I met !! Pam M. 5 Western Animal Hospital - we are bringing our pets to Dr Petcu for 8 years. He was always helpful, many times we did not have the funds to treat our pets but he was fine with us paying when we had the money. He saved our cats in many instances and all I have to say is that I greatly reccomend Western Animal Hospital for any responsable pet owner .

Yolanda M

View More