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Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

You don’t need to be a doctor or a veterinarian to know that if someone is telling you that either you or your dog is suffering from a “small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)” it’s probably not a good thing!

And guess what?

It’s not!  Plus, its usually caused by something going on with your pancreas and not with your small intestine!  And since it can cause your dog to lose weight and have other uncomfortable and perhaps dangerous symptoms we figured we’d include it on our list of common medical issues that affect pets and take a moment and discuss exactly what it is, and what it might be like to have a dog suffering from this condition.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

What is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth?

As the name suggests, this is when a lot of bacteria grows in the small intestine. Yes, it’s true that each and every one of us including dogs and cats, have a natural amount of bacteria running through our gut. That’s perfectly normal. But, too much of it is a bad thing. This is a type of intestinal dysbiosis.

How does it happen?

Our food passes through the whole digestive tract. However, if it stays in the small intestine and somehow starts to become a breeding ground for excessive bacterial growth, then it becomes known as SIBO.

Who gets it?

This isn’t a breed-specific disease; however German Shepherd dogs are more likely to get it than other dogs why that is, we’re not sure but trust us on this one.


Dogs that have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) are the ones at most risk. SIBO is usually a secondary condition that happens after a dog gets EPI.

What happens when a dog is suffering from SIBO?

When there is an overgrowth in the gut then there are all kinds of problems in the intestinal tract (also sometimes referred to as the GI tract or gastrointestinal tract) including the small intestine and large intestine. Clinical signs and symptoms include:

  • Food intolerance and at the same time a huge appetite,
  • Chronic diarrhea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Weight loss,
  • Vitamin deficiency (especially vitamin A, D, E and K) due to malabsorption,
  • Inflammatory bowel disease due to lack of digestive enzymes,
  • Increased intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut),
  • Anemia or serum folate (caused by b12 deficiency).

SIBO can also…

Result in or be caused by another intestinal disease. It’s important to know that an overgrowth of bacteria can cause a disruption or imbalance of the bile acids which can impact the absorption of fatty acids.

Diagnosis & Treatment of SIBO in dogs

If you think that your dog has SIBO, then you should take him or her to the vet. He or she may simply take a medical history and do a breath test to diagnose SIBO.


If your vet thinks your dog has SIBO, then he/she will prescribe something like an antibiotic to get rid of excess intestinal bacteria, and to bring them back to healthy levels.

If this seems to work…

Then you won’t need further investigation. If it doesn’t help your dog’s symptoms, then it’s possible your dog has another medical condition.

Prevention of SIBO in dogs

One way that people prevent small intestinal bacterial overgrowth from happening or recurring is by giving their dog’s probiotics. Yes, you’ve probably heard about people taking them. Well, they work for dogs and cats too. Before you start giving your pet probiotics, speak to your vet.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Cost of Treatment

Lucky for you SIBO isn’t a major big deal if you catch it in time. Usually, your dog will need one or max two visits to the vet. This could cost a total of $300. However, like we mentioned, if it’s not SIBO, then you’ll have to go for more tests and vet visits to find out the real cause of your dog’s sickness. What started out as a $100 trip to the vet could quickly turn into $300, $400, and more.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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