Natural Ways to Manage Canine IBD: Diet, Supplements & More

on Mar 27, 2023| Modified on Mar 27, 2023

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic condition affecting dogs' gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammation and discomfort. Although the exact cause is still unknown, it is believed that IBD results from an abnormal immune response to environmental factors, such as diet, stress, and bacterial imbalances in the gut. (1)  Conventional treatment typically involves the use of medications, such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressants, which can have unwanted side effects.

This article explores various natural remedies for managing IBD in dogs, including dietary changes, supplements, and lifestyle modifications.

Dietary Changes

Identifying Food Triggers

One of the most important aspects of managing IBD in dogs is identifying and eliminating food triggers. A food trial, typically involving a hypoallergenic diet with novel proteins and carbohydrates, can help pinpoint problematic ingredients. (2) Once identified,  these triggers should be removed from the dog's diet to help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms. Working with a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist can help create a customized diet plan for your dog. (3)

High-Quality Protein Sources

Choosing high-quality protein sources, such as lean meats or fish, can help reduce the gut inflammation risk. Low-fat options, like chicken, turkey, or whitefish, are often well-tolerated by dogs with IBD. (4) It is essential to cook the protein sources thoroughly to ensure they are easily digestible.


Incorporating the right type of fiber into your dog's diet can help alleviate IBD symptoms. Both soluble and insoluble fiber can benefit dogs with IBD. Soluble fiber, such as psyllium or ground flaxseed, can help regulate bowel movements, while insoluble fiber, like oat bran or green beans, adds bulk to the stool and promotes regularity. (5)


Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil or flaxseed oil, can help reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Several studies have shown that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can improve IBD symptoms in dogs.(6) 


Glutamine is an amino acid that plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the intestinal lining. Supplementing with glutamine can help promote gut healing and reduce inflammation associated with IBD in dogs. (7) As with omega-3 fatty acids, it is crucial to consult your veterinarian for the proper dosage and ensure it does not conflict with any medications.

Herbal Remedies

Slippery Elm

Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) is a tree native to North America, and its inner bark has been used for centuries to soothe the digestive tract. Slippery elm contains mucilage, which forms a gel-like substance when mixed with water, providing a protective coating on the intestinal lining. (8) This can help alleviate IBD symptoms in dogs, but it is essential to consult with a veterinarian or a holistic practitioner for the correct dosage and preparation.

Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is another herbal remedy known for its soothing effect on the digestive system. Like slippery elm, marshmallow root contains mucilage, which can help protect and soothe the inflamed gut lining in dogs with IBD. (9) 


Balancing Gut Bacteria

An imbalance of gut bacteria has been linked to IBD in dogs. (10) Probiotics, beneficial bacteria, can help restore balance in the gut microbiome, improve digestion, and support the immune system. Studies have shown that supplementing with specific strains of probiotics can help reduce IBD symptoms in dogs. (11)

Choosing the Right Probiotic

It is crucial to choose a high-quality probiotic supplement specifically formulated for dogs. Look for a product containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and ensure it has a guaranteed potency at expiration.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate healing and alleviate pain. Studies have shown that acupuncture can help reduce inflammation and improve gastrointestinal motility in dogs with IBD. (12)

Lifestyle Modifications

Stress Management

Stress can exacerbate IBD symptoms in dogs. (13) Identifying and minimizing stressors in your dog's environment can help improve their overall well-being. Some ways to manage stress in dogs include:

  • Maintaining a consistent daily routine
  • Providing a comfortable, quiet space for rest and relaxation
  • Offering mental and physical stimulation through toys and exercise
  • Using calming aids, such as pheromone diffusers or calming supplements

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise can help promote gastrointestinal motility and improve overall health in dogs with IBD. Consult with your veterinarian to develop an appropriate exercise plan tailored to your dog's needs and abilities.


Inflammatory Bowel Disease can significantly impact a dog's quality of life. Incorporating dietary changes, supplements, herbal remedies, probiotics, acupuncture, and lifestyle modifications can help naturally manage IBD symptoms in dogs.


  1. Jergens, A. E., & Simpson, K. W. (2012). Inflammatory bowel disease in veterinary medicine. Frontiers in bioscience (Elite edition), 4, 1404–1419.
  2. Olivry, T., & Mueller, R. S. (2003). Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. BMC veterinary research, 9(1), 1-3.
  3. Allenspach, K., Culverwell, C., & Chan, D. (2016). Long-term outcome in dogs with chronic enteropathies: 203 cases. The Veterinary Record, 178(15), 368.
  4. Dandrieux, J. R. (2016). Inflammatory bowel disease versus chronic enteropathy in dogs: are they one and the same? Journal of Small Animal Practice, 57(11), 589-599.
  5. Sunvold, G. D., Hussein, H. S., Fahey Jr, G. C., Merchen, N. R., & Reinhart, G. A. (1995). In vitro fermentation of cellulose, beet pulp, citrus pulp, and citrus pectin using fecal inoculum from cats, dogs, horses, humans, and pigs and ruminal fluid from cattle. Journal of Animal Science, 73(12), 3639-3648.
  6. Hall, E. J., German, A. J., & Day, M. J. (2003). An immunohistochemical study of histiocytic ulcerative colitis in Boxer dogs. Journal of Comparative Pathology, 128(1), 38-46.
  7. Wang, B., Wu, G., Zhou, Z., Dai, Z., Sun, Y., Ji, Y., ... & Wu, Z. (2015). Glutamine and intestinal barrier function. Amino acids, 47(10), 2143-2154.
  8. Marsden, S. (2009). Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats: Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements. Crown Publishing Group.Thorne Research. (2018). Veterinary botanical medicine: Marshmallow. Thorne Veterinary. Retrieved from
  9. Thorne Research. (2018). Veterinary botanical medicine: Marshmallow. Thorne Veterinary. Retrieved from
  10. Suchodolski, J. S. (2016). Diagnosis and interpretation of intestinal dysbiosis in dogs and cats. The Veterinary Journal, 215, 30-37.
  11. Grześkowiak, Ł., Endo, A., Beasley, S., & Salminen, S. (2015). Microbiota and probiotics in canine and feline welfare. Anaerobe, 34, 14-23.
  12. Habacher, G., Pittler, M. H., & Ernst, E. (2006). Effectiveness of acupuncture in veterinary medicine: Systematic review. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 20(3), 480-488.
  13. Cerquetella, M., Spaterna, A., Laus, F., Tesei, B., Rossi, G., Antonelli, E., ... & Villanacci, V. (2010). Inflammatory bowel disease in the dog: differences and similarities with humans. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 16(9), 1050-1056.

Essiac Tea

Posted by Texas Marg (Texa) on 03/27/2023

Hello, does anyone have experience curing their dog's Inflammatory Bowel Disease with Essiac Tea?