A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology investigated the commonalities and differences in IBD in humans and dogs.  In both humans and dogs, IBD has been linked to genetic and environmental factors, but many elements remain unknown.

Specific genes have been identified and found to be linked with IBD in humans, particularly Crohn’s disease.  Lymphocyte subtypes are different in humans and dogs, demonstrating that the mechanisms behind IBD are not yet fully understood.

In the study, researchers discovered a commonality between dogs and humans, a finding that has already been proven in human medicine: the bacteria in the small intestines in dogs with IBD differ from bacteria in healthy dogs, leading to the theory that like humans, there is a correlation between microflora and IBD in dogs.


The study demonstrates that diagnosis of IBD must be thorough, including a comprehensive clinical exam, biopsy samples for histological assessment, and lab work.  Vets must identify the cause of the inflammation: if the cause of the chronic enteritis is misdiagnosed, and the dog is wrongly treated for IBD, the disease will fail to resolve.  Biopsy samples harvested through endoscopy are paramount to identify the various subtypes of mucosal infiltration. Researchers have shown that ultrasound and X-ray are better tools for excluding other causes, and in dogs with IBD, the significance of intestinal wall thickening has been revaluated.

For vets, a challenge in managing IBD patients is that it is difficult to predict the outcome for the patient. However, the good news is that researchers have recently studied many important markers that may be “prognostic indicators, such as canine pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (cPLI), cobalamin and albumin concentration.” Treatment is determined by the severity of the disease and by resistance to drugs. For some dogs, including those with food responsive diarrhea, IBD may improve or even resolve after diet therapy, such as a diet including hydrolysed protein.

Dr. Matteo Cerquetella’s team at the School of Medical Veterinary Sciences, University of Camerino, Italy, concluded that since the relationship between human and canine IBD is not fully understood, few aspects of human medicine can be applied to dogs with the disease.  In humans, IBD presents in a more standardized way clinically, and with respect to endoscopy and pathology. Future research might result in better therapeutic measures for both humans and canines.

Source: Cerquetella, M. (2010), Inflammatory bowel disease in the dog: Differences and similarities with humans, World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2010 March 7; 16(9): 1050–1056.


Newsletter VICSD on Yelp


humane logo
aavr logo

aavr logo