IBS in Dogs: Common Causes, Signs, and Natural Home Treatments

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The Can Dogs Eat It Team

IBS in Dogs: Common Causes, Signs, and Natural Home Treatments
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joana garridoReviewed By Joana Garrido DVM

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) in dogs is rare but can become a recurrent problem if dog owners fail to identify its catalyst.

By learning the prevalent cause of IBS and the symptoms accompanying this condition, you will understand how the natural treatments we have provided in this article can help your dog.

What Is IBS in Dogs?

A Dog Suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in dogs results from abnormal GI motility caused by asynchronous contraction of the intestinal tract muscles. It causes a group of gastrointestinal symptoms that mainly affects the large intestine.

Most cases of IBS in dogs have no physiological explanation as this intestinal issue is commonly caused by a mental issue rather than a physical problem.

What Causes IBS in Dogs?

A dog with IBS

Psychological stress or anxiety is the leading cause of IBS in dogs. There are varying reasons why canines experience stress and anxiety, such as loud noises, exposure to new environments, traveling, and meeting new people.

A poor diet can also facilitate flare-ups of IBS symptoms. Lack of fiber in your dog’s diet can make the digestive process more difficult and exacerbate his condition.

IBD vs. IBS in Dogs

Due to the similarity of their names and symptoms, IBS and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are commonly used interchangeably. However, they are two different types of ailments.

  • IBD in Dogs

IBD refers to chronic digestive tract inflammation as inflammatory cells target the intestinal lining of dogs.

It causes the affected organ to thicken, decreasing nutrient absorption in the gut.

  • IBS in Dogs

IBS is a recurrent and episodic GI tract illness. Unlike IBD, it is considered a psychosomatic disorder.

This means IBS is a psychological or mental condition that causes a manifestation of physical symptoms. There are no bacterial or viral agents involved neither in IBD.

What Are the Symptoms of IBS in Dogs?

a dog is having a checkup

Chronic and intermittent diarrhea and constipation are often present in dogs with IBS. Other symptoms they may exhibit include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Tenesmus

Clinical signs of IBS in dogs are closely similar to symptoms of IBD, food allergies, and numerous other diseases. Attempting to diagnose this condition without an expert’s help is extremely difficult.

If your dog shows the symptoms listed above, take him to your trusted animal clinic for a proper diagnosis.

The veterinarian will have to rule out other diseases before they can confidently conclude that IBS is the root cause of your dog’s GI troubles.

3 Natural Remedies for IBS in Dogs

Minimize and manage IBS symptoms in dogs by using these 3 dog-friendly home treatments:

1. Psyllium Husk

Psyllium Husk for IBS in DogsChronic diarrhea is prevalent in dogs with IBS. Psyllium husk is rich in soluble fiber, which aids in alleviating this symptom.

In a study, 22 police working dogs with chronic large-bowel diarrhea received psyllium husk supplementation for 1 month. According to the results, it was able to reduce their defecation frequency from 3.5 to 2.9 times a day.

Moreover, 90% of the participating dogs have consistent stools and showed a mean increase of 4 pounds (2 kilos) in body weight.


  1. Buy unflavored, preservative-free, 100% pure, organic psyllium husk powder for your dog. It is available to purchase online or in the supplement or bulk section in the grocery store.
  2. Give your dog ½ teaspoon of the powder for every 5 pounds of his body weight. Administer every 12 or 24 hours.
  3. Combine the psyllium husk powder with water so it can expand. Then add the mixture to your dog’s food.

Nutritional information

  • Psyllium husk is used to treat other issues in the digestive system of dogs such as constipation.
  • Psyllium husk can help bulk up the stools of dogs, which aids in preventing anal gland problems from recurring.


  • Dogs supplemented with psyllium husk powder should be provided unlimited access to water. If not, there is an increased risk of intestinal or esophageal obstruction.
  • Excessive intake of psyllium husk powder supplements can cause GI side effects, like flatulence, in dogs.
  • The supplement can interfere with the effectiveness of medications. Thus, medicated dogs must take the supplement and prescribed drugs at least 2 hours apart to avoid interactions.

2. Spirulina

Spirulina for IBS in DogsIn times of stress, an imbalance may occur in the gut microbiota of dogs, allowing the increase of the harmful bacteria population, which can worsen IBS symptoms.

A 2021 research observed that spirulina’s immunomodulatory ability can potentially improve dogs’ gut microbiota stability.

This supports other studies, theorizing that the canine gut microbiota and gut immune system are critically interlinked.

Thus, giving your furry pal spirulina boosts his digestive health as well as immune response.


  1. Buy spirulina supplements specifically made for dogs to avoid toxic ingredients such as xylitol.
  2. Check the product for 3rd-party certification from reputable organizations like NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) to ensure it undergoes strict quality control and testing.
  3. If the spirulina supplement you bought comes in powdered form, mix ⅛ teaspoon of it for every 20 pounds of body weight into your dog’s daily meal.

Nutritional information

  • Spirulina is a good source of antioxidants, iron, iodine, and manganese for dogs.
  • Spirulina has natural antihistamine properties that help combat allergies in canines.


  • Spirulina is vulnerable to cyanotoxin and heavy metal contamination. Look for brands that provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which contains valuable information about the source and purity of their products.
  • Consult the veterinarian before using spirulina on dogs with autoimmune diseases as well as dogs prescribed immunomodulating drugs.

3. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha for IBS in DogsReducing the stress and anxiety levels of dogs with IBS prevents the advancement of gastric symptoms.

Ashwagandha has been traditionally used by humans to provide stress relief. A study shows that the plant can produce the same effect on canines.

Dogs that were given ashwagandha root extract for 4 weeks exhibited significant reductions in signs of fear, anxiety, and pain interference.


  1. Look for ashwagandha extract supplements for dogs that are derived from the roots of the plants, not the leaves. The roots contain bioactive properties that provide a relaxing sensation to dogs.
  2. Check the withanolide content of the supplement. Withanolide is the compound responsible for the therapeutic effects of the plant. The product should have between 3% and 5% of withanolide.
  3. Similar to other canine supplements, inspect the product for 3rd-party certification and COA.
  4. The safe dosage of ashwagandha for dogs ranges between 500 and 1500 milligrams. Consult a holistic veterinarian to know the appropriate dose for your dog’s size.
  5. Use ashwagandha root extract supplement on Fido at least twice a day.

Nutritional information

  • Ashwagandha is purported to support the balance of hormone levels in dogs.
  • The herb can strengthen the immune and cardiovascular levels of canines.


  • Accidentally administering too much ashwagandha supplements to your furry pal can cause stomach problems such as inappetence, vomiting, and diarrhea.

FAQs About IBS in Dogs

1. Can Cheese Cause IBS Flare Up in Dogs?


Cheese can cause IBS flare-ups in dogs since many canines are lactose intolerant. Moreover, several types of cheese are high in fats that can irritate the digestive tract. Feeding dairy products to dogs with IBS can worsen GI symptoms like diarrhea.

2. Can Stress Cause IBS in Dogs?

Stress is the common cause of IBS in dogs. To prevent this gastrointestinal

disorder from recurring, make sure to foster a stress-free environment for your furry pal. Any minor or major lifestyle changes should be done in a gradual transition to lessen his anxiety.

3. How Long Does IBS Last in Dogs?

IBS in dogs can last for 1 week but sometimes longer if the source of their stress cannot be easily eliminated.

Keep in mind that this GI problem will return if your dog is subjected to psychologically draining situations.

4. How Do I Know If My Dog Has IBS?

There is no definitive way to know if your dog has IBS unless you get him diagnosed by a veterinarian.

Since the condition is not caused by any harmful pathogen or physical strain, the veterinarian will need to rule out other potential ailments first before declaring that your dog has IBS.


IBS in dogs is usually a stress-related gastrointestinal disorder, but a poor diet can contribute to worsening its symptoms.

Home remedies like psyllium husk and spirulina can help reduce diarrhea and promote gut microbiome balance in pooches with IBS.

Using ashwagandha as a natural treatment focuses on easing anxiety and stress, which are both common causes of this intestinal problem.

Since persistent diarrhea is often seen in dogs with IBS, here are 4 Remedies for Dog Diarrhea that you should know.