IBD and a Plant-Based Dog Food Diet

Updated on
IBD and a Plant-Based Dog Food Diet

Does your dog suffer from regular bouts of painful cramping followed by episodes of straining to produce mucusy and sometimes blood tinged diarrhoea, or large amounts of very soft diarrhoea with times of going off their food and weight loss?

Chronic intestinal disease in dogs can be compared to IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) in humans where there are many theories about the disease but still many unknowns. I suffer as a vet from IBD and I know how debilitating it can be for our overall health, so when it happens to your dog, it is doubly as worrying, as none of us want to see our dogs in any form of pain.

What is fairly clear is that food intolerances and allergies with a compromised immune system and combined with an imbalanced microbiome are at the heart of the cause.

In my personal experience with the large number of dogs who I have helped as a vet transition to a gentle and easily digested truly novel plant-based protein diet, they do seem to all have many similarities -

Just be Kind Your dog may have suffered from a bout of vomitting and diarrhoea in the past and your vet recommended a bland diet of chicken and rice, maybe even more than once.

This results in your dog developing an intolerance to chicken and any similar avian food such as turkey, egg or duck as they are targetted with the same protein everytime they experience an acute attack of inflammation at such a vulnerable time. The lining of the intestine is invaded by inflammatory cells and an allergic-type response occurs within the intestinal tract. This inflammation interferes with your dog’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients.

Just be Kind Your dog may have been treated in the past for an infection of Giardia or Campylobacter as a puppy and been given a course of Metronidazole that damages their fragile gut microbiome and again unbalances their immunity.

Just be Kind Your dog has had a course of antibiotics or prednisolone for an infection or skin condition. This too has a resulting and long lasting effect on the good gut bacteria which compromises your dog's immune system and makes them intolerant and sensitive to high levels of proteins in the food, and in particular animal proteins.

All of the above can seriously compromise your dog's immunity as 70% of their immunity (and our immunity) is governed by our good gut bacteria. This leads to the intolerances to animal proteins and inflammation which results in painful cramps, inappetance and weight loss.


Please read about Duke the Weimeraner's experience below -

Weimeraner Duke with animal protein intolerance and IBD saved by going onto a vegan diet

“Our 3 year old Weimaraner Duke had been having chronic digestive issues for a couple of years, with things getting particularly bad when he turned 2. He had constant diarrhoea and quickly started to lose weight.

He went from weighing almost 30kg to 21kg. He was painfully thin and you could see almost every bone in his body. We tried everything. We were desperate to get answers. After many diet changes and countless visits to the vets urging them to investigate further, he was referred to a specialist and underwent tests which confirmed he had chronic IBD.”

“We tried 9 different brands of dog food in total (he continued to lose weight and have chronic diarrhoea on all of these). These included raw diets, hydrolysed diets, novel diets, insect protein diets etc, all recommended by a well known specialist vet after being referred to them by our local vet.

For example, Purina HA was recommended by the specialist as we were told it had no allergens yet we later realised it contained soya which is a common allergen in dogs with IBD! Not knowing where or who else to turn to, we scoured the internet in the hope of a miracle and we finally came across your website – and let me tell you what a revelation that was.

We were so impressed by the level of information about IBD, the possible causes and detailed information about how Solo Vegetal can help dogs like Duke. It felt like we were finally being seen/heard and for the first time, we felt like there might actually be a light at the end of the tunnel.

We booked an online consultation with Arielle to run through his background before we committed to switching diets once again and she made us feel like we could get Duke healthy again.

Arielle’s detailed explanation and reassurance gave us the confidence we had lost in everyone else. She explained things to us about the disease that no other vet had told us before and it was abundantly clear she truly understood the mechanics of IBD.

We proceeded to place our first order of Solo Vegetal on 28/07 and we haven’t looked back since. Without wanting to sound dramatic, Solo Vegetal and Give A Dog A Bean has literally saved and brought our boy back. Had we not found you when we did (we saw many vets including specialists and not one suggested a vegan diet so we didn’t even know this was an option for dogs) I dread to think where we’d be now!”

Read more about Duke here


Clinical signs of IBD and how it’s diagnosed?

IBD can involve any part of the digestive gastrointestinal tract, but most commonly affects the stomach and/or the intestines.

If the stomach is involved, your dog will experience chronic vomiting. If the intestines are involved, chronic diarrhoea will occur.


Besides x-rays and tissue biopsies your vet may also analyse the following:

  • faecal tests – these tests look for infectious organisms such as Giardia
  • measurement of the level of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in the blood – this can indicate whether there is decreased ability to absorb nutrients and a need for supplementation
  • measurement of folate in the blood – this will show whether there is an imbalance in the normal bacterial populations in the gastrointestinal tract.


Can IBD be managed with a vegan diet?

YES! The best diet for a dog with IBD would be a hypoallergenic, plant-based, high fibre diet that DOES NOT contain ANY of the following primary allergens for dogs:

BEEF, dairy, wheat, lamb, egg, chicken, soya, pork, corn, rabbit and fish – in that order.

The best ingredients for dogs with IBD are sweet potato (no skin), quinoa, oats. If a dog has severe diarrhoea and sickness, it is best to feed a soothing vegetable broth made from cooked celery, carrots, green beans and parsley with a bit of added salt.

For owners choosing to homecook for their dog, supplementation of B12 (cobalamin) is important and can be found in our JUST BE KIND Supplement as well as pre and probiotics .

A natural anti-inflammatory that we highly advise you add to your dog’s diet when suffering from IBD is pure Omega 3 from Algae oil.


Why do we recommend Solo Vegetal for IBD?

Solo Vegetal is grain free, hypoallergenic and one of the most effective diets in helping dogs with IBD. It is also very palatable. Weimeraner Duke shown above transformed when fed Solo Vegetal dry food. We have so many case studies of dogs transforming when fed Solo Vegetal as it is grain free, soay free and animal protein free and very palatable.


“Olli has canine IBD and we were nearly at the end of the road then we found you.

Thank you for what you do, without the Solo Vegetal he wouldn’t be here. I’m vegan so had no qualms about trying plant based for him but I’d just gone with the standard vet advice about food at first. He is one of seven rescues and most of them eat it now.” - Cherry Olli's Mum



Why do we recommend Greta for IBD?

Greta dry food is grain free, hypoallergenic and one of the most effective diets in producing firm stools in your dog. The food uses red beetroot as its nutrient source, which gives the food a rich red colour and it is VERY palatable.



Brian the Border Terrier suffered from such severe cramping and pain with constant illness until he transitioned from a raw food to a plant-based diet – it was quite literally life-changing for him and he now loves Greta and Green Crunch!



Why do we recommend Green Crunch for IBD?

We import Green Crunch from Germany as the results that we have seen with dogs not being able to tolerate any other foods and then transitioning to Green Crunch dry biscuits with its pure soya free ingredients have really been lifechanging. All the pain disappears and they really begin to enjoy their food again.

It is one of our only dry foods made with no rice, and the founder of Green Crunch has this story to tell about her own dog Nelson -

Her words are used below translated from the VegDog.de site.

Tessa and Nelson from VegDog who had IBD

“Crossbreed Nelson who died at the good age of 15 years, was a vegan for 7 years as he suffered from an intolerance to animal protein. We had Nelson as an adult rescue and when we first had him, we made numerous trips to the vets.

The vets were baffled and we tried everything that the market had to offer – hypoallergenic dry and wet foods as well as the recommended full range of exotic meats such as kangaroo meat or ostrich meat with potatoes. Nothing seemed to help him. The itching and digestive problems did not improve. Eventually Nelson’s vet advised us to refrain from any animal protein.

Vegan for dogs? I thought it was a joke. “How is this going to work?” “Is it even suitable?” These were only a few of the many questions I had.

My vet was so supportive and gave me a comprehensive balanced homemade recipe to try on Nelson. After 4 weeks, he was symptom free and he remained so for 7 years on his vegan diet! He lived until he was 16 years old!

Together with a professional vet specialising in animal nutrition, we developed our first vegan, grain-free and 100% complete food for dogs. VEGDOG was born!”


What is an elimination diet?

This means feeding your pet a diet from your vet or carefully made at home that contains only a few ingredients that your pet has never been fed before or that are hydrolysed (where the proteins are broken down into very small pieces so that they can ‘hide’ from the immune system). These diets tend to be very processed which makes owners turn to raw meat diets as they tend to have no additives.

Sadly though, it is usually the meat/animal protein that dogs react to the most!

This elimination diet is then fed as the only food or treat to go into your pet’s mouth for at least a 4 – 6 weeks. If your pet’s signs dramatically improve during the trial, then to confirm a food allergy, your pet then has to go back to the old diet again.

A sudden relapse proves an allergy to an ingredient in your pet’s previous diet. It is difficult for owners to maintain as their vet will tell them to only feed the prescription food and offer no alternatives for treats or homemade food.

The biggest positive with a plant-based diet, is that dogs cannot be maintained on a hydrolysed prescription diet indefinitely as they tend to be low in protein and so highly processed, but they can be maintained on a balanced vegan diet for the rest of their lives and have a very good quality of life as there are so many options and healthy treats available.


“A balanced plant-based diet is a good choice for a truly novel protein diet when food trialling dogs with potential cutaneous adverse food reactions.
They are often more palatable than hydrolysed protein diets and dogs with an intolerance can be maintained on a complete diet indefinitely.”
- Dr Sue Paterson Veterinary Dermatology Specialist
See the ingredients below of what vets will usually recommend – hydrolysed prescription diets. We have included their ingredient list and then compare with our plant-based ingredients below. Dogs cannot be maintained for long on a hydrolysed prescription diet as remember that they are so highly processed (one even has pure sugar labelled as an ingredient which is a disaster for your dog’s teeth and endocrine system if eaten long term).
Royal Canin Anallergenic™ INGREDIENTS:
Corn starch, hydrolysed poultry by-products aggregate (broken down chicken feathers), coconut oil, vegetable oil, natural flavours, powdered cellulose, dried chicory root, sodium silico aluminate, potassium chloride, monocalcium phosphate, L-tyrosine, fructooligosaccharides, fish oil, choline chloride.
Purina ® HA Hypoallergenic INGREDIENTS:

Corn starch, protein, minerals, coconut oil, sugar (!), rapeseed oil, cellulose, soya oil, fish oil

Hills Derm Complete INGREDIENTS:

Brewers’ rice, dried whole egg, digest (made of chicken intestine or fish), soybean oil, rice protein concentrate, flaxseed, minerals, dried beet pulp, fish oil, coconut oil, animal fat, dried tomato pomace, dried citrus pulp, spinach powder, vitamins, trace elements and beta-carotene.

Hills Prescription Diet Z/D 

The ingredients as stated on their Hills official website, state

INGREDIENTS: Meat and animal derivatives, cereals, derivatives of vegetable origin, oils and fats, minerals. Carbohydrate source: Corn starch. Protein source: Chicken liver hydrolysate.



Solo Vegetal

Micronised rice, potato and pea protein, white oats and hulled oats, einkorn wheat, buckwheat, spelt, vegetable oils and fats (including evening primrose oil and borage oil), potato flakes, dried beet pulp and chicory, isolated vegetable protein, hydrolysed vegetable proteins, wheatgerm, micronised dried carob flour, dry brewer’s yeast, minerals, flaxseed, dried carrots, tomatoes, apples, spinach and medicinal herbs, fructo-oligosaccharides, yeast hydrolysates.

Analytical Constituents:
Crude Protein 24.0%, Fat Content 11.25%, Crude Fibre 3.7%, Ash 5.2%

There are no GMO ingredients and although the ingredients do mention wheat (known to be an allergen in dogs); buckwheat is in fact a seed and it contains many beneficial nutrients.

Einkorn wheat is chosen for its antioxidant properties as well as being loaded with the essential nutrients zinc, iron, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and A. All very important for heart health. It also contains added Taurine, Methionine and a pure plant-based source of Vit D3.

(We highly recommend Solo Vegetal as it is very tasty and our own family dog Ruff LOVES it!)


Green Crunch from VegDog

We promote and highly recommend Vegdog’s Green Crunch as it is made up of lentils, sweet potatoes and peas that provide the essential healthy proteins. Added algae oil contains the necessary Omega-3 and-6 fatty acids that contribute to a soft coat and healthy skin; and the addition of an adapted mineral powder, provides the vital nutrients for a healthy heart, such as Vitamin B12, D3, Taurine and L-carnitine.

Vitamin-packed fruit and vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots and blueberries, provide large amounts of natural Vitamins A, C and E while also being high in fibre to support a balanced gut microbiome for immune-boosting qualities.

Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants and all contribute to a very palatable and fully hypoallergenic balanced food for your lucky plant-based dog.

NEW INGREDIENTS 35% sweet potato, 18% peas, 15% lentils, minerals, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, linseed, carob, brewer's yeast, carrot, 0.1% blueberries, pumpkin, 0.1% algae

ANALYSIS Crude protein 23%, crude fat 7.5%, crude fibre 3.3%, crude ash 6.3%, moisture 8%, calcium 0.8%, phosphorus 0.4%, Ca:P ratio 2.0:1 Purine content: 40mg/100g


Greta from Vegan4Dogs

Greta is 100% balanced and complete. It has sufficient taurine and l-carnitine for heart health, Vit D3 (cholecalciferol) added as a pure Algal plant-based source; and it has the addition of the amino acid methionine that helps to acidify your dog’s urine and prevent urine complications on a plant-based diet.

Rice (from certified organic cultivation 24%), Potatoes (23%), Pea Protein (9,5%), Canola Oil, Potato Protein, Lentils, Sunflower Seeds, Flax Seeds, Carrots, Brewer’s Yeast, Banana Meal, Beetroot, Monocalcium Phosphate, Seaweed Calcium, Cranberries, Sea Salt, Marjoram, Savory, Tomato Powder, Lovage, Seaweed Meal, Horse Chestnut, Papaya Leaves, Fructooligosaccharides, Schizochytrium Limacinum (rich in Omega 3)

Greta is imported by Just be Kind for its high palatability as well as being so nutrient rich.


What else do we advise for dogs with IBD?

So often, dogs with with IBD suffer from such chronic inflammation that they lack the ability to manufacture and absorb enough Vit B from their intestines. This will need to be added to their diet in the form of a supplement. Most vets will recommend and dispense Protexin Cobalaplex for dogs with IBD needing Vit B.....BUT PLEASE BE AWARE THAT IT CONTAINS ANIMAL PROTEINS!

Protexin Cobalaplex

Yes, Protexin Cobalaplex comes in gelatine capsules that contain the same DNA as beef and can result in painful inflammation recurring in your sensitive dog if fed whole and not emptied onto their food. Some vets are unaware of this and do not advice this recommendation to sprinkle the contents only.

Much better to choose a vegan option of Vitamin B such as Cytoplan Vit B Multivitamin.

Most dogs with IBD will respond best to Give A Dog A Bean that contains all the natural fibres to feed their gut microbiome kindly and naturally without causing any inflammation. We highly recommend feeding Give A Dog A Bean which is the only dog food that contains psyllium husks that naturally swell and protect the gut lining.

Give A Dog A Bean


6% Faba Bean Protein, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin Seeds, 3% Green Beans, Papaya, Safflower Oil, Blueberries, 2% Kidney Beans, Sunflower Seeds, Quinoa, Kale, Minerals, Hemp Seeds, Psyllium Husks, Algae, Inulin, Chamomile


Moisture 79%, Crude Protein 6.3%*, Fat Content 3.7%, Crude Fibre 1%, Ash 1.5% *30% protein on a dry matter basis


Vitamin D3 200IU, Vitamin E all-rac-alpha-tocopheryl acetate 20mg, L-Carnitine 500mg, Taurine 1000mg, Vitamin B1 10mg, Vitamin B12 75μg, Niacinamide 15mg, Biotin 300μg, Zinc as Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate 25mg, Copper as Copper (II) Sulphate Pentahydrate 1mg, Iodine as Calcium Iodate Anhydrous 0.75mg, Selenium as Sodium Selenite 0.08g, DL-Methionine 2200mg, Tryptophan 600mg

As well as making up a complete diet, Give A Dog A Bean’s ingredients also have a number of health benefits for the body, in particular the skin, heart and gut:

  • Bean and Quinoa protein is chosen as a valuable protein source as both have an optimal amino acid profile for your dog.
  • Added Hemp Seeds and Algae provides the essential Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. They lead to a soft and healthy coat and fully support a healthy skin barrier for all dogs with sensitive skins.
  • Blueberries are chosen for their antioxidant properties. They are characterised by a high fibre content, which has a beneficial effect on digestion. Minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium are abundant in blueberries as well as high levels of Vitamins B and E.
  • Papaya is another superfood that is added as it contains one of the highest levels of natural digestive enzymes of all the fruit.
  • Sweet Potato is rich in nutrients and fibre and contains large amounts of Vitamins A, C and E, as well as essential fibre. Due to a low sodium content, sweet potato has a diuretic effect, so that detoxification processes are stimulated in the body and harmful waste products are more easily removed.
  • The addition of Carrots, Kale, Green Beans, Pumpkin Seeds and Psyllium Husks ensures that your dog gets their ‘5 a day’ to naturally feed their gut microbiome which in turn will look after your dog’s health naturally.
  • Give a Dog A Bean is a healthy, nutritionally complete, very tasty plant-based food for your dog.
Published on Updated on

You May Also Like