Pets with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) vs. lymphoma
Inflammatory bowel disease is one of the most common causes of chronic diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and appetite changes in adult and senior pets. And while many pets can experience occasional digestive upset, it is the chronic digestive issues that are so important to diagnose correctly so that appropriate and early treatment is achieved. As general practitioners, we are often able to resolve greater than 80 percent of acute digestive tract problems with symptomatic and/or dietary therapy without a lot of diagnostic testing.
However, when these issues become chronic, a definitive diagnosis is critical to a successful treatment outcome. In such cases full medical workups including physical exams, CBC/chemistry blood work, urine analyses, x-rays and often abdominal ultrasounds are required. Depending upon the results of these initial baseline tests, further testing is done such as thyroid or adrenal gland testing, 6-8 week strict dietary trials in case food allergies are involved and even an endoscopic exam with stomach or intestinal biopsies, as done in people. Biopsies become especially important to distinguish inflammatory bowel disease from cancer of the digestive tract such as lymphoma, if the initial workups and/or dietary trials fail to resolve the symptoms.
I’ve seen too often many chronically ill pets treated symptomatically with Prednisone for stomach or bowel disorders, often initially helping the situation tremendously, only to have the conditions later relapse with much more intense symptoms. Often these pets have had cancerous lymphoma from the outset, and animal guardians should at least be given the option of a definitive diagnosis and treatment early on with their chronically ill pet. This is even more critically important for pets with digestive symptoms, as those pets with gastrointestinal lymphoma (which can mimic symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease) that are first treated with Prednisone only are much more difficult to treat with effective chemotherapy protocols if diagnosis is delayed at a later date.