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"Simba" - Staffordshire Bull Terrier with Severe IBD



10 year old Simba came to see me because he had chronic, severe diarrhoea, and was losing weight rapidly. He was dull and lethargic, and had shown no signs of improvement despite 2 months worth of treatment for a bacterial problem affecting his bowels.

Simba's owner felt he couldn't afford to wait any longer but needed to try a new approach before Simba deteriorated further.


Bacterial overgrowth (where there is an increase in the numbers of certain "unwanted" bacteria and a decrease in the numbers of normal "friendly" bacteria in the small intestine) is rarely an entity in itself. Although it does occur, there is usually an underlying disease process that allows this upset in the bacterial balance. Thus, treating the bacterial problem alone will often not get to the root cause of the problem.

I therefore immediately ran extensive blood tests on Simba, and took biopsies from his bowel lining by means of an endoscope - a flexible fibreoptic cable that allows us to look down into the bowels.

Sure enough, Simba was diagnosed as having severe inflammatory bowel disease(IBD) - a common condition where there is inflammation in the lining layers of the gut, which prevent normal absorption of nutrients into the body, and also allows certain important proteins to leak out from the blood and be lost into the bowels.

It is believed that IBD may be triggered by a dietary allergy, so the patient is usually given a hypoallergenic diet, but often also needs high doses of corticosteroids and sometimes additional drugs to suppress this over-exuberant response that the body's immune system is having within the bowel walls.

Corticosteroids can have adverse effects such as increasing the chance of developing diabetes, increasing susceptibility to infection and causing weight gain. However, in cases such as these, they are crucial to controlling the disease.

Two months after starting treatment, Simba is full of beans and looking a picture of health. I am now trying to taper down his dose of corticosteroids to as low a dose as possible. He is back to enjoying going to work every day with his owner in his van.

Fortunately (for all concerned!) the horrendous diarrhoea he had has completely resolved. After spending around £1000 to get Simba right his owner said to me last week
"I've been in the building trade for 40 years, and I know that you get what you pay for. I don't mind spending the money if the job is done properly".
I'll try to bear that in mind as I get in quotes for my house extension!


Geraldine Young BVSc CertSAM MRCVS

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