Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs

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Immunoproliferative Enteropathy in Basenjis

Inflammatory bowel disease is one of the most common causes of vomiting and chronic diarrhea in dogs. Immunoproliferative enteropathy, a disease that is related to an abnormally reactive immune system, affects the large or small intestine, the liver, the endocrine system, the kidneys, and the skin. The lining of the stomach becomes infiltrated through inflammatory cells, thereby obstructing the normal functions of absorption and digestion. Being an immune linked inflammation, it can also be responsible for making the body more vulnerable to bacterial infection, parasites, intestinal cancer, or dietary sensitivity. Loss of protein and severe intestinal malabsorption is commonly seen.

Genetic lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis has been observed in the Basenji breed, and is commonly referred to as immunoproliferative enteropathy in Basenjis. Basenji mixes are also at an increased risk. There is no gender differentiation, but it is more commonly seen when the dog is young to middle aged.


The symptoms of immunoproliferative enteropathy disorder are generally observed in young to middle aged Basenjis. Irregular bouts of severe diarrhea over a long period (chronic) of time, usually preceded by loss of appetite, is the most common symptom. Loss of weight is also very common as there is loss of protein and other essential nutrients through the gut. The conditions would get progressively worse without treatment, and might also lead to emaciation. Immunoproliferative enteropathy can also affect the skin, with symptoms that include ulcers on the margins of the ears, and hair loss (alopecia) on both sides of the body.


An episode may be linked to stressful events like travel, boarding, vaccination, or, for a female, being in heat (estrus). Although there are no proven causes for immunoproliferative enteropathy, there are often continuous periods of diarrhea that are associated with these types of stressful events (though not limited to the type of stressful event). This type of disorder is most commonly seen in the Basenji breed, with an assumption that there is a genetic base.



You will need to give a thorough history of your pet's health and onset of symptoms. A standard complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. The blood tests may show concurrent conditions of anemia if the immunoproliferative enteropathy is severe, or your dog may be suffering from hypoalbuminemia, an abnormally low amount of albumin -- a blood protein -- in the bloodstream.

There are several disorders that can cause intermittent diarrhea in dogs. Your veterinarian will conduct fecal tests and blood tests to check for parasites and  bacterial infections, two of the most frequent causes of chronic diarrhea. An intestinal biopsy is also important for making a definitive diagnosis. This will involve surgical removal of a sample of tissue from the intestinal wall for examination. As immunosuppression is the primary treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, it is vital to rule out any possible infectious causes of several gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, like histoplasmosis, salmonella, or giardia.

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