Has your dog been experiencing some digestive issues lately? If you notice your dog having inconsistent bowel movements or other canine digestive problems and it hasn’t gone away, that could mean that he is coming down with an underlying health condition that needs to be treated. This is something that has happened before, and it usually clears up within a few days. A couple of weeks have passed, and you notice your poor pup is losing weight. He is not acting like the usual pet you know, which makes you concerned. Within the following days, intermittent vomiting begins. This is when you decide to take him to the vet to see what could be the underlying cause. You anxiously wait to see what the diagnosis will be. After thorough testing, your vet returns to you with his final diagnosis. It turns out, your dog is suffering from Crohn’s Disease. If this sounds similar to your situation, just know this is not an uncommon health condition in dogs. Although it may surprise you, dogs can develop Crohn’s Disease just like their human counterparts.
The best thing you can do if you notice your dog experiencing digestive issues is to take him to the vet right away for further testing. The sooner you can diagnose the problem, the faster your dog can get treatment.
What Causes IBD in Dogs?
The actual causes of IBD are still under debate. As of right now, professionals suggest genetics, infections, diet, or abnormalities within the immune system could all have something to do with this problem. Some veterinarians even believe that IBD is not a condition at all, and is only a response to other conditions present in the body. Some cases of Crohn’s Disease are also thought to derive from specific ingredients in a dog’s diet or parasitic infection that has yet to be treated. Even though it may be difficult for your vet to undercover the underlying cause, they will run a complete examination and use their best judgment to come up with a proper treatment plan.
Crohn’s Disease in Dogs Symptoms
As with any condition, the dog’s suffering from Crohn’s Disease can show a number of different symptoms depending on the severity and cause.
The most general signs to look out for include persistent vomiting, canine diarrhea, and weight loss. Dogs with Crohn’s Disease may also have mucus or blood present in their stool as well. Some dogs may also have the urge to defecate more frequently but be unable to do so.
As already stated, if the dog is having issues with the lower part of their intestines, he will most likely experience diarrhea and loose stool. If the inflammation occurs in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, he will be more likely to vomit. Regardless of what section has problems, it is important that the animal seeks treatment right away. Both persistent vomiting and diarrhea will cause a nutrient deficiency if left untreated. In severe cases, a dog may become lethargic, show signs of depression, or develop a fever. Other less common symptoms that dogs with IBD can suffer from may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Rumbling abdominal sounds
- Change in coat health
Diagnosing Crohn’s Disease in Dogs
Since the symptoms of IBD can be broad, diagnosing this condition can be quite difficult. In order for your dog’s health problem to be diagnosed with IBD, inflammatory cells must be present, the issue must be chronic, and all other possible causes must be ruled out. To begin the diagnosis process, your vet will first start off by reviewing your dog’s overall health history. This is the perfect opportunity to inform your vet of all your dog’s prior symptoms that have led up to this point.
From there, your vet will conduct a physical examination to identify the overall health status of your dog. After that, your vet will begin running lab testing to try and find the internal issues that are causing your dog’s problems. Some laboratory tests that are usually prescribed include urinalysis, blood count, and blood profile.
If your vet assumes that your dog has a parasitic infection, they will also need to take a fecal exam as well. Once these results have come back, the gastrointestinal tract will then be tested. X-rays or ultrasounds are often used to see any abnormalities in the intestinal walls. If an allergen causes the condition, another specific testing can be run. In severe cases where the underlying problem is difficult to diagnose, your vet can also take a small sample of the tissue in the intestines to identify the issue. Taking a sample of the intestines can be done through a surgical procedure or an endoscope. The biopsy will show the presence of inflammatory cells and the type of cells involved. The ultrasound helps to identify specific changes that have occurred within the cell walls.
Before coming up with a proper diagnosis, it is critical that all other possible causes have been ruled out. As stated earlier, diarrhea is a very common symptom for all types of health conditions, such as diseases, canine cancers, and parasites, which is why a thorough examination is necessary. Your vet will not be able to start a specific treatment regimen until all test results have come back.
How is Crohn’s Disease Treated in Dogs?
Since there are no known causes of Crohn’s Disease in dogs, there are no specific treatments that can be prescribed. However, with that being said, a vet can provide anti-inflammatory medication and other treatment regimens which will help significantly control a dog’s condition. Please remember that even if your dog seems 100% better, he can still become inflicted with symptoms if you stop treatment prematurely. Dogs with Crohn’s Disease may need lifelong medication in order to be alleviated of their symptoms.
When a vet is treating Crohn’s Disease, their main goal is to stabilize body weight, reduce the immune system’s responses, and reduce gastrointestinal symptoms. Antibiotics, immunosuppressive drugs, and anti-inflammatories may all be prescribed to mitigate your dog’s issue. Immunosuppressive drugs are used to reduce the number of inflammatory cells latching on to the digestive system. If the condition is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics would likely be prescribed. Another more natural approach to fixing the dog’s issue is through a change of diet. As stated before, some dogs can experience Crohn’s Disease due to dietary reactions. If this is the case for your pet, your vet will likely put him on a hypoallergenic diet. The dog can only eat this recommended food for a few weeks to see if symptoms lessen. After the two-week trial period, if his symptoms disappear, that means his issue is caused by an ingredient in his diet. If he does not get better, however, vets will then begin a different treatment approach with medication.
For dogs that respond well to a change in diet, he will most likely need a homemade meal plan for the rest of their lives. In order to make sure their food is balanced and nutritious, a specialized pet nutritionist will have to guide you through the process. You can expect multiple diets to be used before concluding with the perfect match.
If your dog’s condition is caused by a parasitic infection or canine worms, specific treatment will be required. Once your vet has run a fecal examination and the test results come back positive for parasites, they will then identify the type of parasite that is causing the inflammation, and then use that information to prescribe a specific medication. It is critical that you complete the entire treatment process when it comes to a parasitic infection. If you cut treatment short, your dog is at high risk of becoming reinfected with the same parasite. What is the Prognosis For Crohn’s Disease in Dogs?
Although this condition cannot be cured, it can be controlled in most cases. As long as your vet can find an effective treatment plan that caters to your dog’s condition, your pet should be showing improvement within the first month. The best thing you can do to ensure that your dog is alleviated of his symptoms is to follow your vet’s treatment plan as closely as possible.
The worst thing you can do in this situation is to stop using his medication because he appears to be doing better. As always, do not be alarmed if symptoms flare up once in a while. This is a standard-issue that dogs with Crohn’s Disease have to face on a regular basis. You should only begin to worry if your dog loses weight or appears to be lethargic.
Since this is a lifelong health issue, it is essential that your dog is closely monitored. If symptoms begin to worsen and are continuous, he should be checked out by his veterinarian. In some cases, a vet may need to alter medication dosages or change his diet. If your dog is experiencing continuous vomiting or diarrhea, he is at risk of becoming severely dehydrated. Take him to the vet if he appears to be weak and lethargic after his bout of vomiting. If his dehydration is serious, he may need intravenous fluids to get back to stability.
Although no dog owner wants to see their furry companion sick, it’s a common reality that all pet owners have to face. Just because your dog has been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease does not mean he will be living a life in pain. It is entirely up to you to take your dog to the veterinarian when he has a change in health or behavior. Even if symptoms are intermittent, vomiting and diarrhea are not symptoms that should be taken lightly.
Once your vet can form a proper diagnosis for your dog, they can use that information and come up with an effective treatment plan. The best thing you can do for your pet is to follow this treatment plan as closely as possible and monitor him for any alarming symptoms. How you take care of your dog after he has been diagnosed will have a direct effect on his symptoms and overall quality of life.
COVID-19 will likely be with us forever. Here’s how we’ll live with it.
As COVID-19 continues to run its course, the likeliest long-term outcome is that the virus SARS-CoV-2 becomes endemic in large swaths of the world, constantly circulating among the human population but causing fewer cases of severe disease. Eventually—years or even decades in the future—COVID-19 could transition into a mild childhood illness, like the four endemic human coronaviruses that contribute to the common cold.
“My guess is, enough people will get it and enough people will get the vaccine to reduce person-to-person transmission,” says Paul Duplex, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research. “There will be pockets of people who won’t take [the vaccines], there will be localized outbreaks, but it will become one of the ‘regular’ coronaviruses.”
But this transition won’t happen overnight. Experts say that SARS-CoV-2’s exact post-pandemic trajectory will depend on three major factors: how long humans retain immunity to the virus, how quickly the virus evolves, and how widely older populations become immune during the pandemic itself.
Depending on how these three factors shake out, the world could be facing several years of a halting post-pandemic transition—one marked by continued viral evolution, localized outbreaks, and possibly multiple rounds of updated vaccinations.
“People have got to realize, this is not going to go away,” says Roy Anderson, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Imperial College London. “We’re going to be able to manage it because of modern medicine and vaccines, but it’s not something that will just vanish out of the window.”
The long road to another common cold
One of the essential factors governing the future of COVID-19 is our immunity to the illness. Immunity to any pathogen, including SARS-CoV-2, isn’t binary like a light switch. Instead, it’s more like a dimmer switch: The human immune system can confer varying degrees of partial protection from a pathogen, which can stave off severe illness without necessarily preventing infection or transmission.
In general, the partial protection effect is one of the reasons why the four known endemic human coronaviruses—the ones that cause a common cold—have such mild symptoms. A 2013 study in BMC Infectious Diseases shows that on average, humans are first exposed to all four of these coronaviruses between the ages of three and five-part of the first wave of infections that young children experience.
These initial infections lay the foundation for the body’s future immune response. As new variants of the endemic coronaviruses naturally evolve, the immune system has a head start in fighting them off—not enough to eradicate the virus instantly, but enough to ensure that symptoms don’t progress much beyond the sniffles.
“The virus is also its own enemy. Every time it infects you, it tops up your immunity,” says Marc Veldhoen, an immunologist at the Portugal’s University of Lisbon.
Past studies make clear that partial immunity can keep people from getting seriously ill, even as coronaviruses successfully enter their systems. Long-term, the same is likely to be true for the new coronavirus. Emory University postdoctoral fellow Jennie Lavine modeled SARS-CoV-2’s post-pandemic trajectory based on the 2013 study’s data, and her results—published in Science on January 12—suggest that if SARS-CoV-2 behaves like other coronaviruses, it will likely morph into mild nuisance years to decades from now.
This transition from pandemic to minor ailment, however, depends on how the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 holds up over time. Researchers are actively examining the body’s “immunological memory” of the virus. A study published in Science on January 6 tracked the immune response of 188 COVID-19 patients for five to eight months post-infection, and while individuals are varied, about 95 percent of patients had measurable levels of immunity.
“Immunity is waning, but certainly not gone, and I think this is key,” says Lavine, who wasn’t involved with the study.
In fact, it’s even possible that one of the cold-causing coronaviruses sparked a serious outbreak in the 1800s before fading into the litany of mild, commonplace human pathogens. Based on the spread of its family tree, researchers estimated in 2005 that the endemic coronavirus OC43 entered humans sometime in the late 19th century, likely the early 1890s. The timing has led some researchers to speculate that the original version of OC43 may have caused the “Russian flu” pandemic of 1890, which was noted for its unusually high rate of neurological symptoms—a noted effect of COVID-19.
“There’s no hard proof, but there are a lot of indications that this wasn’t an influenza pandemic but a corona-pandemic,” Veldhoen says.
The crucible of evolution
Though the carnage of past coronaviruses has faded over time, the road to a relatively painless coexistence between humans and SARS-CoV-2 will likely be bumpy. In the medium-term future, the impact of the virus will depend largely on its evolution.
SARS-CoV-2 is spreading uncontrollably around the world, and with every new replication, there’s a chance for mutations that could help the virus more effectively infect human hosts.
The human immune system, while protecting many of us from a serious illness, is also acting as an evolutionary crucible, putting pressure on the virus that selects for mutations that make it bind more effectively to human cells. The coming months and years will reveal how well our immune systems can keep up with these changes.
New SARS-CoV-2 variants also make widespread vaccination and other transmission-blocking measures, such as face masks and distancing, more crucial than ever. The less the virus spreads, the fewer opportunities it has to evolve.
We’re going to be able to manage it because of modern medicine and vaccines, but it’s not something that will just vanish out of the window.
ROY ANDERSONIMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON
Current vaccines should still work well enough against emerging variants, such as the B.1.1.7 lineage first found in the United Kingdom, to prevent many cases of serious illness. Vaccines and natural infections create diverse swarms of antibodies that glom onto many different parts of SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein, which means that a single mutation can’t make the virus invisible to the human immune system.
Mutations may produce future variants of SARS-CoV-2 that partially resist current vaccines, however. In a preprint posted on November 19 and updated on January 19, Duplex and his colleagues show that mutations that delete parts of the SARS-CoV-2 genome’s spike protein region prevent certain human antibodies from binding.
“What I’ve learned from our own work is how deviously beautiful evolution is,” Duplex says.
Other labs have found that mutations in 501Y.V2, the variant first found in South Africa, are especially effective at helping the virus elude antibodies. Out of 44 recovered COVID-19 patients in South Africa, blood extracts from 21 of the patients didn’t effectively neutralize the 501Y.V2 variant, according to another preprint published on January 19. Those 21 people had mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, however, so their antibody levels were lower, to begin with, perhaps explaining why their blood did not neutralize the 501Y.V2 variant.
So far, currently authorized vaccines—which spur the production of high levels of antibodies—seem to be effective against the most concerning variants. In a third preprint published on January 19, researchers showed that antibodies from 20 people who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines didn’t bind quite as well to viruses with the new mutations as they did to earlier variants—but they still bound, suggesting the vaccines will still protect against severe illness.
The new variants bring other threats as well. Some, such as B.1.1.7, appear to be more transmissible than earlier forms of SARS-CoV-2, and if left to spread uncontrollably, these variants could make many more people severely ill, which risks overwhelming healthcare systems around the world and even higher death tolls. Veldhoen adds that new variants also may pose a greater risk of reinfection to recovered COVID-19 patients.
Researchers are closely monitoring the new variants. If vaccines need to be updated in the future, Anderson says that it could be done quickly—in roughly six weeks for currently authorized mRNA vaccines, such as those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. That timetable, though, doesn’t account for the regulatory approvals that updated vaccines would need to go through.
Anderson adds that depending on how the evolution of the virus progresses, lineages of SARS-CoV-2 may arise that are distinct enough that vaccines will need to be tailored to specific regions akin to vaccines for pneumococcus. To successfully guard against SARS-CoV-2 going forward, we will need a global monitoring network similar to the worldwide reference laboratories used to collect, sequence, and study variants of influenza.
“We’re going to have to live with it, we’re going to have to have constant vaccination, and we’re constantly going to have to have a very sophisticated molecular surveillance program to keep track of how the virus is evolving,” Anderson says.
The promise and challenge of widespread vaccination
Experts agree that transitioning beyond a pandemic depends on the prevalence of immunity, especially among older and more vulnerable populations. Younger people, especially children, will build up immunity to SARS-CoV-2 over a lifetime of exposure to the virus. Today’s adults have had no such luxury, leaving their immune systems naive and exposed.
The exact threshold for achieving population-wide immunity that slows down the virus’s spread will depend on how contagious future variants become. But so far, research of early variants of SARS-CoV-2 suggests at least 60 to 70 percent of the human population will need to become immune to end the pandemic phase.
This immunity can be achieved in one of two ways: large-scale vaccination, or recovery from natural infections. But achieving widespread immunity through uncontrolled spread comes at a terrible cost: hundreds of thousands more deaths and hospitalizations around the world. “If we don’t want to push forward vaccines and champion vaccines, we have to decide collectively how many old people we want to die—and I don’t want to be the one making that decision,” Duplex says.
Jeffrey Shaman, an infectious diseases expert at Columbia University, points out that the global push for vaccines also exposes existing inequities in global health. In a widely shared map from December, The Economist Intelligence Unit estimated that rich countries such as the U.S. will have widely accessible vaccines by early 2022, which may not happen for poorer countries in Africa and Asia until as late as 2023.
Efforts to vaccinate the developing world hinge, in part, on vaccines that can be stored with standard refrigeration, such as the vaccines under development by Oxford/AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. (See the latest on COVID-19 vaccine development around the world.)
As of the week of January 18, according to a World Health Organization estimate, some 40 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered around the world, mostly in high-income countries. In Africa, only two countries, Seychelles and Guinea, have started providing vaccines. And in Guinea, a low-income country, only 25 people have received doses.
Patients with IBD should receive COVID-19 vaccine, despite concerns
“For patients with IBD we would advocate, based on [International Organization for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IOIBD)], that patients get vaccinated, acknowledging that there is a lack of data specifically in IBD patients,” Ryan C. Ungaro, MD, MS, gastroenterologist with Mount Sinai Hospital’s Feinstein IBD Center, told Healio Gastroenterology. “But we think the benefits outweigh the risks and based on prior experience with vaccinations in IBD patients.”
CDC and IOIBD recommend patients with IBD should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Ungaro, the CDC recommended immunocompromised patients should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Patients should be counseled that it is not yet known whether the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in immunocompromised patients are the same compared with the general population.
“The major concern would be certain medications could lead to decreased response to the vaccine,” he said. “That is something that is going to need to be studied but right now the expert consensus is that IBD patients should get vaccinated against COVID-19.”
According to IOIBD recommendations, patients with IBD should receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Messenger RNA vaccines, replication vector vaccines, inactivated vaccines, and recombinant vaccines are safe to be administered in IBD patients, Ungaro said.
Additionally, the IOIBD said vaccines should not be deferred if an IBD patient is receiving immune-modifying therapies.
According to Ungaro, patients with IBD who take corticosteroids and get the vaccine should receive counseling that there may be a decreased systemic response. He said this needs to be studied further.
“Prospective studies are being planned to look at the real-world effectiveness and side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine in IBD patients,” Ungaro said. “This would require cohorts that are vaccinated and followed. Some studies are ongoing for that both in the United States and internationally. [Surveillance Epidemiology of Coronavirus Under Research Exclusion-IBD (SECURE-IBD)] is going to help support some of these efforts as well.”
Ungaro and his team at Mount Sinai in collaboration with the University of North Carolina developed the SECURE-IBD registry early in 2020 to monitor and report outcomes of COVID-19 in patients with IBD.
He said, “Physicians can encourage IBD patients to enroll in the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s IBD Partners, they will be one of the sources for the prospective COVID-19 vaccine studies.”
Udo’s Choice® Super 8 Microbiotic
People liveing with crohns sisease can have a altered “microbiome” which means that the digestive bacteria thats in ther gut can be unbalanced ,that were takeing
Some experts maintain that using probiotics to restore the microbiome can allow a person with Crohn’s disease to reduce irregular immune responses and experience fewer symptoms.
They believe that adding healthful bacteria to the digestive tract, potentially by incorporating natural probiotic food sources to the diet, can reduce both intestinal inflammation and anomalies of the immune system. This could minimize symptoms of Crohn’s disease, such as gastrointestinal irritation, diarrhea, and stomach upset.
To see whether or not probiotics work for them, people with Crohn’s disease can keep a food diary and slowly incorporate some of these foods into their diet, noting any changes in their symptoms.
Probiotic foods include:
A person may also incorporate prebiotic foods into their diet. These are food sources that feed bacteria in the digestive tract and can promote their growth. These foods include onions, leeks, and asparagus.
Research has not proven that the probiotics in food can help reduce Crohn’s disease symptoms, so some people may wish to try taking a supplement first.
However, as long as someone does not have an allergy to foods that contain probiotics, incorporating them into the diet is a relatively risk-free method to try to improve overall health and help manage the disease.
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